Buying a projector is only half of the equation. It must ideally be paired with the right projector screen for obtaining optimum image quality. There are many types of screens available for projectors. They come in various sizes and have different characteristics. You can choose the right projector screen by considering a few essential things.
1. Where Are You Going to Install The Projector Screen?
When choosing the right projector screen, the first thing to consider is the room where it will be installed. Buyers must pay attention to the uncontrollable ambient light in the room. The imagery may appear dull and washed-out in areas with high ambient light. You may need to either cover windows and openings with dark curtains or opt for an ambient light rejecting screen. These projector screens are rated to reject anywhere from 30% to 85% ambient light. They work well provided the light is coming from the sides and not directly opposite the screen. It can be useful for rooms with uncontrollable ambient light, especially in offices or outdoors. On the flip side, the viewing angle of such screens is low. If you are using the projector in a dark room like a cave, then a standard projector screen will be fine.
2. What Are You Going to Watch on The Projector Screen?
The second thing to consider is what you are going to watch on the projector screen. Content like sports and HDTV is brighter as compared to movies. You can watch them in rooms with some ambient light. However, the projector must be sufficiently bright for watching movies. Either you use the projector in a dark room or watch movies after dark. Alternatively, for projectors with a low brightness rating (below 1,000 lumens), consider screens with a gain rating of around 1.1 to 1.4. They have a narrower viewing angle, but the imagery appears brighter as they disperse light over a smaller area. High-contrast grey projector screens have a gain rating ranging from 0.5 to 1.0. A gain rating below 1.0 implies that the screen has a wider viewing angle but lower image brightness. They are great for extremely bright projectors and will reduce the effect of ambient light as well.
3. Screen Size
Buyers should consider the size of the projector screen. It will depend on the space available for installing the screen, the throw ratio of your projector, and how far away you will sit from the screen. For most users, projector screens between 80” to 120” will be a great choice. If you have limited space in the room and sit closer, then you may want a smaller projector screen or a portable one. Also, projectors produce images of a specific size when placed at a certain distance from the screen. It depends on their throw ratio. Make sure that the imagery will fit the screen when the projector and screen are installed. The size of the screen should lie within the projector’s recommended image size range. If you have an ultra-short throw ratio projector, then you might want a screen that can be placed a few inches away from the projector.
4. Fabric Color
Buyers must consider the fabric color of projector screens. They are mostly available in two colors – white and grey. White screens ensure superior image brightness as they reflect more light. They are suitable for projectors with low to medium brightness ratings. Grey screens improve the contrast ratio of the imagery, leading to darker colors and better black levels. They reduce the effect of ambient light as they reflect less light. However, they must be paired with a projector that has a powerful light source. You may choose a fabric color as per your projector’s brightness rating.
5. Fixed Frame vs. Retractable Screens
Another choice you may have to make when choosing a projector screen is between fixed frame and retractable offerings. Fixed frame screens provide slightly better picture quality and last longer as compared to retractable screens. However, they may be an eyesore when they are not in use. You can design your home theater around the screen to counter the same. Fixed frame projector screens are the best for dedicated home theater rooms.
A retractable screen can be hidden from plain sight once you have finished watching a movie or sports match. They are suitable for living rooms or other areas that are used for multiple purposes. The cheaper ones have to be retracted manually while the expensive ones come with a motor. If you are going to install the projector in a temporary location, you might consider portable screens. They are easy to carry and can be folded after use.
6. Aspect Ratio
You may also want to consider the aspect ratio of the content you watch. Most of the content is published in 16:9 format, and a screen with this aspect ratio will be ideal for a majority of users. However, if your projector supports the cinematic aspect ratio (2.35:1 or 2.39:1), you may want a screen that can accommodate the picture. If you are buying a screen for office presentations, then you may need one that has either a 1:1 aspect ratio or 16:10 aspect ratio. It will be better suited for projecting text and graphics. Match the aspect ratio of the screen and your projector for the best viewing experience.
Buyers must decide the amount of money they wish to spend on a projector screen beforehand. It can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred bucks to thousands of dollars. Basic projector screens are cheap, but as their quality increases, so does the price. Standard screens having a fixed frame are the most affordable. Screens with light rejection and brightness gain properties will be more expensive. Retractable motorized screens will cost significantly more than manual ones. Larger screens will have a higher price tag than smaller ones. Choose a screen that suits your needs and budget. If you are a casual viewer who rarely uses their projector, consider a reasonably-priced projector screen. However, if you are a movie fanatic and have the money to spare, investing in a high-quality option may be the right choice.
Projector screens are available from different manufacturers. Focus on pairing the right screen with your projector for achieving the best image quality. Don’t get a cheap screen for an expensive projector or a costly screen for an entry-level projector. Strive to maintain a balance between the two.