The Right Projector Screen Can Save You Money!

By: Nick Summers

At LCDProjectorCenter.com we concentrate very much on lcdprojectors, so why am I writing about projector screens? Quitesimple really. Buying your lcd projector in isolation from thescreen without considering how they work together is likely tocost you more and give you less than perfect results.

How can picking the right projector screen save youmoney?

One of the biggest challenges when is getting the right brightness for the room youare going to be using it in. For home use you can usually darkenthe room. This means you can buy a cheap lcd projector, oftensaving many hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

But often darkening the room significantly is neither possiblenor desirable. Buying a higher specification projector will giveyou a brighter image, but it's probably cheaper to buy a highgain projector screen. The quality lcd projector may cost you athousand dollars more than a dimmer model, whilst qualityprojector screens that enhance the image brightness and clarityare only a few hundred dollars more.

Projector Brightness and Screen Gain

The brightness of an lcd projector is given in ansi lumens.Typical values for home theater and business presentation useare 500 to 3000. The higher the number, the brighter the picturewill be. At the low end a darkened room is essential, whilst atthe very top end acceptable results are possible with higherlight levels. The current generation of home use projectors aretypically in the 1000-1500 range.

The gain of a projector screen is the increase in brightness ofthe image produced compared to a flat matt white screen. This isgiven as a simple number, eg 1, 1.5, 2 etc. A gain of 1 meansthe image is the same brightness as on a flat matt whitesurface, whereas 2 means the image is twice as bright.

As an example, if you decide you need about 1500 lumen to get anacceptable quality picture, you could buy a projector with thatrating and worry about the screen later. Or you could buy acheaper 1000 lumen model and match it to a projector screen witha gain of 1.5. This would give you an effective image brightnessof 1500 lumen at a reduced cost.

Very High Gain Projector Screens

Typical cheap projector screens have gains of between 1 and 1.2.Gains of 1.5 to 1.8 are achieved with high quality perlescentfinishes at about double the cost. If money is no object and youneed the maximum gain possible then you need a chromaticallymatched projector screen.

Gains of up to 4 can now be achieved with matched projectors andscreens. An lcd projector only transmits 3 narrow wavelengths oflight in Red, Green and Blue. A matched projector screen iscovered with material that reflects only these wavelengths.Almost all of the ambient light is absorbed or scattered, so theprojected image appears very much brighter.

The Downside of High Projector Screen Gain

Whilst projector screen gain might help you use a cheap lcdprojector in brighter rooms than it could cope with on its own,there are 3 trade-offs. These are the viewing angle, colorshifting and uneven brightness.

High gain projector screens limit the viewing angle. For ascreen with a gain of 1 the picture appears high quality out toabout 50 degrees from the projector. But at a gain of 1.5 thatviewing angle is reduced to about 35 degrees. Over 2 and theviewing angle is down to around 25 degrees, making it much moredifficult to layout your room.

Color shifting happens due to the surface properties of thehigher gain screens. A true white screen will render colorsaccurately. By trying to manipulate the way light reflects, ahigh gain screen can cause a shift in some of the colors. Thisis rarely a reason not to buy, unless you really do need thecolors to be spot on.

The biggest impact a high gain projector screen has on imagequality is the change is brightness from the center of thescreen to the edge. There can be up to 30% difference at gainsover 2. This is usually not too much of a problem, but it doesbecome far more noticable the higher the viewing angle.

Conclusion

A little research and a bit of leg work could help you makegreat savings. Treat the projector screen as an integral part ofyour system and buy it together with your projector. Visitstores and insist on demonstrations with a variety of lcdprojector and screen combinations.

Choosing a good quality, moderate gain (1.4-1.6) projectorscreen can decrease the cost and increase the performance ofyour system. A cheap lcd projector can produce a bright, clearimage at higher than expected light levels. So whilst yourprojector screen may cost more, overall you save.

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