Electric projection screens: $400 to $4,000 ... Help!

Discussion in 'Displays' started by david-WI, May 8, 2006.

  1. david-WI

    david-WI Auditioning

    May 8, 2006
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    I am finishing my basement and plan to install a retractible projection screen inside one of the soffits. I will have a plasma on the wall for regular watching and then, potentially down the road, would like the ability to drop a big screen and turn on the projector. I want to buy and install the screen now before the drywall goes up.

    Have been investigating projection screens and can find electric versions ranging from under $400 to over $4,000. I don't need (or want to pay for) the best, but also don't want to make a bad purchase and have to replace it.

    Please advise a projection newbie on how to make such a decision and hopefully save some money in the process. Thank you.
  2. MikeHerbst

    MikeHerbst Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 15, 2001
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    There are quite a few variables when it comes to selecting screens, and even though I've been a Front PJ user for years, I'm only aware of some of them.

    (1) Screen Material - Various levels of reflective gain, brightness, black levels, and even viewing angle are directly affected by the screen material. You get what you pay for here. Depending on ceiling mount vs. floor mount PJ, screen height, etc. there are some materials that work better than others in some circumstances. (Do some research on reflective gain and "reflective" vs. "retroreflective", etc.)

    (2) Tensioned Screen or Not - The least expensive power screens simply roll the screens down, there is no provision for holding the sides of the screen in tension. The result is that on some of these the edges of the screen can curl around, or otherwise cause uneven screen geometry. Better screens are "tensioned" with cables to keep everything more flat.

    (3) Amount of drop? - If you have a fairly standard usage scenario, you might be able to utilize an "off the shelf" screen with a standard amount of "drop" (the black material above the screen that determines the final viewing height). If you need an unusually long or short drop, you might be into custom screen territory, which isn't neccesarily a LOT more expensive, but definitely isn't going to be as cheap as a low-end off the shelf type screen.

    (4) Drop Controls? Do you want the screen up/down to be triggered by the projector coming online? This is how many do it, but if you're willing to mount a wall switch with a cable to the motor, you can sometimes get a cheaper screen mechanism. In particular I found a brand a while back that was sort of a "temporary" power-screen that had everything mounted onto a control/power cable that plugged into the wall. Not as slick as a completely integrated setup, but cheaper. And you could probably figure a way to hide the cables in a dedicated space.

    Hope that helps.

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