Projection Screens Evaluated Using 8 Features

Projection Screens – What Are They?

There’s a lot more to projection screens than meets the eye. Of course, when you boil it down to the bare essentials, projection screens are flat, blank and usually white surfaces on which you can project still or moving images. But one screen doesn’t fit all! Depending on what you’re projecting, how you’re projecting it, and where you’re projecting it, there are multiple screens in as many shapes, sizes and fabrics as you can imagine.

Why Do You Need A Projection Screen?

You may think that a blank wall or a whiteboard or a tacked-up bedsheet serves the same purpose as a projection screen, right? Wrong! Without the proper screen, your projections can end up distorted, fuzzy, and indistinct. The better your projector, the more you need a good screen to go with it.

Projection Screens – What Options Exist?

Here are some important factors to consider when shopping for a projection screen:

1. Projection Screen Size

Of course you want a screen that fits in the room where you’ll be projecting. But beyond that, you should base your screen’s size on the distance the projector will be from the screen and how far away your audience will be sitting. Ideally, the screen’s height should be half the distance to the front row of seats and 1/6 the distance to the back row.

2. Self-Standing Projection Screens

If you’re looking for portability and easy storage, self-standing screens are your best bet. The most common of the lot is the tripod mounted screen; the screen is mounted on a tripod which can be set up and taken down quickly and easily, and doesn’t take up much storage space. Many tripod screens also have case adjustment, which lets you adjust the height and width of the screen. Other self-standing screens have different types of bases, some of which can be placed almost flush against walls (for smaller rooms or venues) and some which are larger but sturdier.

3. Projection Screens with Keystone Eliminators

Many tripod mounted screens are adjustable to compensate for distorted images caused by projectors that are placed at an angle to the screen. The keystone eliminator tilts the screen slightly forward and corrects the image. Tripod screens with keystone eliminators are great for classrooms and conference rooms that may not have the room to properly set up a projection.

4. Projection Screen Fabrics

Your optimal screen fabric depends on what you’re projecting and where you’re projecting it. The most commonly used fabric in classrooms and conference rooms is matte white. It’s a versatile fabric which can be used with many different types of projectors, distributing light evenly over a wide viewing area. It’s also low-maintenance; mild soap and water is all you need to clean it, and treated properly it can last for many years. If you plan to project in venues where the light can’t be controlled, you might want to try screens with reflective material that minimizes the effect of ambient light. For high contrast LCD projectors, a light gray screen (as opposed to a white screen) will soften the harsher blacks and whites, making the video images look more like film.

5. Wall or Ceiling Mountable Projection Screens

If you don’t want the hassle of having to set up a self-standing screen for every video presentation, a screen that mounts to your wall or ceiling may be the answer. What you sacrifice in portability, you gain in convenience. Mounted screens don’t take up a lot of room and take seconds to unroll and pull back up. These screens generally come in metal cases with mounting brackets. Some ceiling mounted screens can even be placed inside recessed ceilings to take up less room.

6. Manual vs. Electric Projection Screens

The smooth and consistent unrolling of the screen, and an equally smooth return to the screen case, will help keep your screen in great shape for years. Electric screens virtually guarantee a smooth, controlled return. Their professional look is also great for boardrooms and upscale home theaters. However, if you’re on a budget, a manual screen can last just as long, provided you treat it with the proper care and avoid the dreaded “snap and burn” that can damage your screen and hurt your fingers. There are also many manual screens available with controlled return.

7. Front Projection vs. Rear Projection Screens

The large majority of projection screens are front projection, which means that the projector is in front of the screen, and the screen’s purpose is to reflect the light from the projector. Rear projection systems are more costly and more difficult to set up, but many home theater owners and businesses prefer it aesthetically because the projector is behind the screen and out of view. Rear projection screens are designed to allow light to pass through them. Needless to say, make sure you’re getting the right screen for your projector!

8. Projection Screen Formats

Projected images vary in size and shape, from the square images of a TV show to the elongated rectangular shape of a widescreen movie. There are projection screens to match several different formats. The video format (4:3, or 4 inches of width for every 3 inches of height) is the most widely used; other formats include square and HDTV, which is wider than video. For added versatility, locking projection screens lock at intervals to accommodate different formats without leaving too much blank screen space.

Ready to start your own screening process? Have a look at our wide selection of projection screens.