Front projectors, offering top-shelf video once considered appropriate only for the super-elite, are gaining wider acceptance in media dens and living rooms, thanks to better value and improved projector brightness. But with most of the attention focused on the projector side of the equation, it's easy to forget that front projection is a two-piece system. The screen—the projector's oft-neglected partner—plays a crucial role.
A superior screen can brighten the image, improve contrast, and allow people watching off-center to see a brighter picture. The screen also becomes part of a client's home décor, with its frame providing a crucial role both in screen performance and aesthetics—except of course, when clients choose to hide the screen by motorizing it.
What one might think at first a mundane decision—which screen to sell—can get fairly complex, and is as much art as science. Ask four leading screen manufacturers which products they would recommend, and you get four very different answers.
CustomRetailer recently spoke to executives from four leading screen makers—Draper, Stewart, Da-Lite and Vutec—to get their takes on the screen scene, and see what's new in this growing category:
"Select the screen first, and then the projector!" says Howard Sinkoff, president of Vutec. "Then, put in a projector based on the ambient light." Vutec recently received a patent for its innovative Silver Star screen, which it claims is the first new patent for screen material in 25 years.
Sinkoff suggests installers use Silver Star even where a white screen would be bright enough in combination with the selected projector, because projectors set to maximum brightness don't perform as well as with a more moderate brightness setting. "Turning the brightness all the way up ruins the picture—the picture blooms, the resolution gets lost and you lose detail," he says.
Silver Star has a gain of 6.0, Sinkoff explains, because it is made from coated aluminum. Uncoated, the gain would be even higher, but the coating, which consists of some seven layers, improves color accuracy and the consistency of brightness.