What To Look For When Buying a Projector Screen

Last Updated December 12,2018

Projectors have become the popular choice for home cinema setups. While the experience of the viewers primarily depends on the projector used, pairing it with the right projector screen is equally important. A projector with lower specifications may project imagery that is at par or even better than the imagery of a higher model if the former is paired with the right projector screen. 

There is a wide range of projector screens that you can choose from. They come in different sizes and are made of various materials. You can compare the specifications of different screens in order to choose the right one for your needs. Here are a few things to look for when buying a projector screen for a home projector.

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Type of Projector Screen

The primary thing to regard while choosing a projector screen for your home is the type of screen you want. There are different types of projector screens available on the market. Some of them are permanently installed while others allow you to port them from one room to another. There are a few screens also available that can be retracted to hide them from plain sight when they are not being used. Home projector screens can be broadly classified into permanent and portable ones.

Permanent Screens

Permanent screens are the most popular among all types of projector screens. A significant number of homeowners prefer a permanently installed projector screen as they don’t need portability. Permanent screens come in different sizes and have varying mounting styles.

Portable Screens 

If you are someone who prefers the freedom of moving a projector from one room to another when required, then a portable projector screen may be the ideal choice for you. They come with a tripod stand or a pair of stabilizing feet. The screen can be folded or retracted for easy portability. A few vendors also manufacture portable floor rising projector screens. The screen is retracted in a heavy base that also acts as the feet for stabilizing the screen. You can choose one of these portable projector screens as per your preferences.


Vamvo Portable Projection Screen

Features To Consider In Projector Screen 

There are a couple of features that must be considered when choosing a projector screen. These include the mounting style of the screen and the retraction mechanism employed.

Mounting Style: Wall Mounted vs Ceiling Mounted vs Floor Mounted

Projector screens can be mounted in primarily three ways – on a wall, on a ceiling, and on a floor. Wall mounted projector screens are popular as their mounting mechanism doesn’t stand out allowing them to blend into the surroundings. If the area where you want to mount the projector screen doesn’t have a wall with adequate size, then a ceiling mounted projector screen may be the better option. Some people also prefer floor mounted projector screens due to their ease of access. The right mounting style for your projector screen will depend on the area you are going to install the screen in.

Retraction Mechanism: Manual vs Electric 

Retractable screens allow you the freedom of hiding the screen away from plain sight. The screen is rolled into a housing either manually or using an electric mechanism. Manual screens function similar to window shades wherein you have to pull down the screen using a tug or handle. They are simple to operate and cheaper compared to electric retractable screens. 


Elite Tab-Tensioned Electric Drop Down Projection Screen

An electric projector screen has a motor that automatically extends or retracts the screen at the push of a button. These screens need to be powered via an AC adapter or using batteries. They are expensive but may give you the freedom of remotely controlling your projector screen. If you are going to install a large screen at your home, then consider one with an electrical retraction mechanism. Both permanent and portable screens are available with retraction capability. 

When choosing a retractable screen, it is best to opt for tensioned projector screens. These screens have a cable or tabs to support the screen for ensuring that the screen stays rigid and free of any imperfections when in use.

Choosing The Right Material For A Projector Screen

Projector screens are constructed from different materials. They determine the specifications and quality of the projector screen. Materials used in projector screens are classified based on their properties. The properties that you must pay attention to in a projector screen material include:

-  Gain Rating
-  Viewing Angle
-  Color

Gain Rating 

Gain rating is a primary factor to consider when buying a screen for home projectors. Projector screens are made from different materials. Some of them have high gain rating while others have a low gain rating. A gain rating of 1.0 is considered standard and implies that the projector screen efficiently reflects the light rays from the projector without impacting their brightness. A gain rating higher than 1.0 implies the projector improves the brightness of the imagery while a gain rating of less than 1.0 means that the projector degrades the brightness of the imagery.

* Most users should aim for a projector screen with a gain rating of 1.0. 

* Consider a gain rating greater than 1.0 if you have a projector that has a low lumens rating for your room or will be used in areas with high amounts of ambient lighting. 

* Projector screens that have a gain rating lower than 1.0 are relatively cheaper but will require a projector with decent lumens rating. 

Viewing Angle

While viewing angle is more important in projector screens installed publicly, homeowners still need to pay attention to the same. The viewing angle of a screen determines how well the imagery is visible to the viewer when they are not sitting directly in front of the screen’s center. The farther away you move from the center of the screen, the higher will be the impact on the image quality. Most homeowners will find screens with a viewing angle of up to 70° more than adequate for their needs. If you need wider viewing angles, consider an appropriate screen. However, you must remember that you will sacrifice the gain rating by opting for wider viewing angles which will reduce image brightness.

The Color of Projector Screen

Projector screens are available in white or gray colors though the shades may be different from one manufacturer to another. White screens have a high gain rating which causes the imagery to appear brighter. Imagery on gray screens has better black levels and contrast along with rich colors. Unless you are going to use the projector in a room or area with high ambient lighting, a gray screen will be the best fit for you.

Other Factors To Consider 

There are a few more factors that you can look for when buying a projector screen for a home projector.

Projector Screen Aspect Ratio 

Projector screens are available in different aspect ratios just like projectors. The ratio of length to width of the screen is based on its aspect ratio. The aspect ratio of your projector screen should ideally be the same as the aspect ratio of your projector. Choosing the right aspect ratio will allow the imagery to fit the screen precisely without any black bars on the sides of imagery. 16:9 aspect ratio is standard and same as 1080p resolution. It will be ideal for most home projectors. Some projectors also allow you to change aspect ratio based on the input signal. If you like watching movies in cinematic format and your projector supports it, consider a projector screen with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1.


Popular Aspect Ratio

Projector Screen Size

Projector screens are available in different sizes which are measured diagonally. The space available in your home for installing a screen will be a major factor in determining the right projector screen size for you. Another factor will be how far you will sit from the screen. 

You should consider a screen whose diagonal length will be same or less than the distance you are going to sit from the screen. If you will sit seven feet away from the screen, then consider a projector screen that has a diagonal length of seven feet at maximum. Although, if you have less space available, you might be limited by the same and have to opt for a smaller projector screen.


Elite Projection Screens Aeon CLR Series

Projecting on Walls 

Some homeowners may consider using a wall in place of a projector screen. The wall has to be painted with a special material coating designed for image projection purposes. These materials are expensive than regular paint. They ensure a smooth finish for ensuring quality imagery. Normal walls are not as great for projecting images as they have a rough texture. Using walls as projection screens may only be beneficial if you need a very large screen size and have a projector capable of the same. Otherwise, it is better to buy a projector screen.

Some homeowners may consider using a wall in place of a projector screen. The wall has to be painted with a special material coating designed for image projection purposes. These materials are expensive than regular paint. They ensure a smooth finish for ensuring quality imagery. Normal walls are not as great for projecting images as they have a rough texture. Using walls as projection screens may only be beneficial if you need a very large screen size and have a projector capable of the same. Otherwise, it is better to buy a projector screen. 


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