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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

When a bedsheet won't do: Selecting a Projection Screen

Posted on June 24, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Some things are just meant to go together. Haggis and neeps. Starsky and Hutch. Chuck Norris and beards. Vodka and a glass. The same is also true for video projectors and screens. In fact, front projectors are often referred to as “two piece projection systems” amongst the A/V cool kids; the ones that used to wear nerd glasses and push around carts in high-school but now drive Italian sports cars and date super models. (The two pieces being the projector and the screen in case you rode in on the short bus today.)

But how do you go about selecting a projection screen? Can you just blast it onto a white wall? How about getting a big, ole white sheet – a clean one, cause, you know… -- and stretching that on your wall? Should you go with something white, grey or black? What exactly do you need to know about choosing a projection screen for your awesome new home theater system?

Basically it comes down to the four S’s: Style, Size, Shape, Screen Material. And by “basically” I mean, here are 5,000-plus words explaining nearly everything you would want to know about projection screens. So take the red pill and follow me down the rabbit hole as I walk you through selecting a screen that will deliver every juicy pixel of high-def goodness from your new projector…


For all of the different models and glossy, oh-so-sexy product shots that you might see on websites, there are basically only two different styles of screens: fixed and retractable. A fixed screen stays on the wall all the time in a solid frame that has the screen material attached to it. It stretches to the frame, usually attaching by snaps, though sometimes it uses a hook-and-loop system. (It could also be a giant piece of glass material, but more on that later.) A retractable screen raises and lowers into a case on a roller. There are some manual screens – like what your science teacher used to pull down right before showing you some edutainment like, DNA and You! What you need to know about the mysterious chain of life! — but typically home theater projectors are motorized. There are certainly quality differences amongst both categories, but when it comes down to selecting a screen for your theater, this is the first decision that you’ll need to make.

Please click here to continue reading my projection screen magnum opus at Digital Trends.  We're talking 5000+ words of projection screen advice awesomeness, possibly the definitive resource for choosing a screen!

Categories: June 2013, Movies, Electronics

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