Looking for the best projector screen to buy that suits both your needs and your budget? Read through. With projector screens, home theaters are able to match the commercial movie theater visual experience in the comfort of your home.

    Indeed, projector screens are a revelation for home theater. Unlike TVs, where viewing distances diminish the impact of 4K resolution, projection allows for screen sizes that show the extra detail versus HD video. Plus, since many projector screens now come in 4K which includes HDR, you get smoother gradations, richer colors, and enhanced highlight detail when watching your favorite movies and streaming shows.

    But what should you look for when buying a projector screen, how can you tell which projector screen is best for your room? Because as you might have already noticed there are many options and alternatives for example you can just blast the image onto a white wall or how about getting a big white sheet, a clean one, and stretching that on your wall and there is also the part of trying to decide the color, should you get white, gray or black the hurdles are so much but have no fear.

    We understand how difficult making this decision can be and that is why in this post we’re going to dive into exactly what you need to know about buying the best projector screen for your awesome new home theater room.

    Choosing the right projection screen for you involves several considerations; here are some of the most important:


    What are projector screen materials? Projector Screen materials are categorized using several parameters, including gain, viewing angle, color accuracy, baseline color (white or gray), and ambient light rejection.

    Gain is an indication of how much of the projector's light is reflected back into the viewing area. Gain values typically range from 0.8 to 3.0 or even higher. A gain of 1.0 is called "unity gain."

    The viewing angle is more technically called "half-gain angle"; it is the angle from an imaginary line perpendicular to the screen surface at which the reflected light is half as bright as it is when measured on that line (which is said to be "on-axis"). Viewers at that angle or greater will see a much dimmer picture than on-axis viewers.

    In general, the higher the gain, the brighter the image when viewed on the axis, but the narrower the viewing angle.

    A high-gain screen is helpful if the projector's light output is low.

    A high-gain screen is prone to "hot spotting," in which one area of the image is brighter than other areas.

    For a home theater with total control of ambient light and dark, neutral-colored walls, floor, and ceiling, a white screen with a gain of around 1.0 to 1.3 is ideal.

    For projectors with low native contrast, a gray screen can help increase the perceived contrast.

    Some companies make screen materials designed specifically for ultra-short-throw (UST) projectors and one such screen material is:

    Ambient Light Rejection Screen Material (ALR)

    Ambient light-rejecting (ALR) materials reflect light from the projector back into the viewing area while reflecting light from other directions away from the viewing area; as a result, they have a narrower viewing angle than non-ALR screens.

    For a room in which ambient light can't be completely controlled and/or the walls, floor, and ceiling are white or a light color, an ALR screen can provide a much better-looking image than a non-ALR screen.

    An ALR screen is also great for sports parties with a large group of people in a well-lit room watching a big game, though people who are off-axis will see a dimmer picture with lower contrast because of the narrow half-gain angle.

    If you do not want the speakers in your home theater to be visible like a commercial movie theater then this other screen material option is for you;

     Acoustic Transparency Projector Screen Material (AT)

    Commercial cinemas place the front speakers behind the screen, which is perforated with tiny holes to let the sound pass through it; this is called an acoustically transparent (AT) screen.

    Placing the front left, center, and right (LCR) speakers behind the screen allows sounds to appear as if they are coming from the objects making them, enhancing the suspension of disbelief.

    This is especially important with 2.39:1 screens; placing the left and right speakers outside the screen can "disconnect" the sounds from the visuals.

    There are two types of AT screens available for home theaters: perforated and woven, in which the fibers of the material are loose enough to create "holes" for the sound to pass through.

    Up to 10% of an AT screen's area is occupied by these holes, which means the screen reflects a bit less light than a solid screen; a brighter projector works best in this case.

    With a perforated material, the speakers should be placed around 12" back from the material, and they usually require some EQ to boost the mid and high frequencies that are attenuated behind such a screen.

    With a woven material, the speakers can be placed much closer to the material, and no EQ is generally required.

    An AT screen is semi-transparent, so everything behind the screen—including the speakers—should be flat black with no shiny parts, such as logos or drivers, which can be seen through the screen.

    Woven AT screens can include a separate, black-backing fabric to minimize light from getting through.

    In some cases, the pattern of holes in an AT screen might interact with the pixel structure of a projector, causing more effects.


    Fixed Frame Screen OR Retractable Screen?

    In a fixed screen, the material is attached to a rigid frame that can be mounted on a wall or freestanding legs.

    In a retractable screen, the material is attached to a motorized roller that retracts the screen into a housing mounted on the ceiling or wall. This is generally more expensive than a fixed screen.

    Some home theater owners have a flat-panel TV behind a retractable screen, allowing them to watch the TV for more casual viewing and drop the screen for more serious movie watching with a projector.

    Motorized masking systems are more difficult to implement in retractable screens; in most cases, only the sides can be masked with black material that retracts independently from the screen itself.

    Some ambient light-rejecting materials cannot be used in a retractable mechanism because the material includes metal that does not roll up smoothly.

    Flat Screen OR Curved Screen?

    Large commercial cinemas have curved 2.39:1 screens; this corrects possible optical distortion and reflects more light back to the audience from the sides, improving uniformity.

    Most home theaters are much smaller than commercial cinemas, so a curved screen is less important.

    One possible exception is a 2.39:1 screen and a projector equipped with an anamorphic lens; in this case, a curved screen can correct a type of optical distortion called pincushioning.

    There is no need for a curved 16:9 screen in a home theater.

    Curved screens are generally more expensive due to the increased cost of a curved frame.

    Curved screens can only be installed in a fixed frame; they cannot be made retractable.


    The optimum screen size depends on your seating distance. One important criterion is visual acuity—how close to the screen can you sit without being able to see the individual pixels? If you sit farther than that from the screen, you won't necessarily be able to see all the detail in the image.

    There are various formulas to calculate the optimum seating distance and screen size based on visual acuity; for the purpose of this list, I will use the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) recommendation of a seating distance 3 times the screen height for HD and 1.5 times the screen height for UHD/4K, regardless of the screen's aspect ratio. In other words, for HD images:

    (seating distance) = 3 x (screen height)


    (screen height) = (seating distance)/3

    The size of most display screens is specified by their diagonal measurement. For 16:9 screens, the height is about half the diagonal measurement; for 2.39:1 screens, the height is about 0.4 times the diagonal measurement. (The difference between the width and diagonal of a 2.39:1 screen is very small, so you can say the height is about 0.4 times the width as well. Of course, that's not precisely true, but it's close enough.)

    For example, if your seating distance is 10 feet (120 inches), the screen height for HD should be 40 inches, which translates to a diagonal measurement of 80 inches for 16:9 or 100 inches for 2.39:1. For UHD/4K, the screen height should be 80 inches, which translates to a diagonal measurement of 160 inches for 16:9 or 200 inches for 2.39:1.

    Another criterion is how much of your field of view you want to be filled with the image. At the sizes and distances mentioned above, a 4K/UHD image could require you to turn your head to see it all, which argues for a somewhat smaller screen than visual acuity alone would dictate.

    Aspect Ratio

    The aspect ratio of a screen or image is the ratio of its width to its height. Almost all home-theater projectors and television content have a native aspect ratio of 16:9, aka 1.78:1, while most movies are wider with a native aspect ratio of 1.85:1 or 2.39:1.

    If you watch both movies and TV shows, the aspect ratio of the image and screen won't always match; when they don't, you will see black bars above and below or to the sides of the image.

    Many projector owners get a 2.39:1 screen so that widescreen movies fill the screen without black letterbox bars. In this case, there will be "window box" bars on either side of a 16:9 image.

    A 16:9 projector can fill a 2.39:1 screen in one of two ways: adjust the lens zoom, shift, and focus or use a separate anamorphic lens.

    Projector Screen Masking

    To increase apparent contrast in images of different aspect ratios, you can use black masking material to cover the letterbox or window box bars.

    The masking material must be moved into and out of place as needed for different aspect ratios.

     Many projector users believe that maintaining a constant image height (CIH) while moving side masks in and out for different aspect ratios is the best approach; this requires only two masking panels on the sides.

    Some projector users advocate for a constant image area (CIA), which normally requires four masking panels. For 2.39:1 movies, the side masks retract while the top and bottom masks close in; for 16:9 TV shows, the side masks close in while the top and bottom masks retract. This provides the largest possible image in any aspect ratio.

    The native aspect ratio of the screen in a CIA setup is typically around 2.0:1, which roughly splits the difference between 16:9 (1.78:1) and 2.39:1.

    The best way to move masking material is with a motorized system, especially one that can be programmed to automatically form different aspect ratios, but this type of system can be very expensive.

    Many projector owners build their own masking systems as a DIY project; these can be motorized or manual.

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