When you’re looking to build your ultimate home entertainment system, getting the best and biggest TVs are probably on your “To Buy” list. An 85” TV comes with an incredibly big price tag and when you also want to buy audio gear, gaming consoles, Android TV boxes, and more, it makes sense that you’d want to spread your budget around instead of putting all your money into one device.
A mini projector costs a fraction of the price of a TV, and you’re able to get a picture bigger than any TV on the market can manage, and with the same resolution. If you decide to go the projector route, you’ll need to consider investing in a great projection screen too.
With a projection screen, you can install it directly in front of your existing home entertainment gear to get a bigger, more cinematic experience without having to worry about room configuration, or needing a white wall somewhere in your house to use.
There are many different designs of projection screens though, so for your consideration, we’ve come up with a list of five screens that cover four different designs. There’s the ceiling mounted/pull-down variety, a sheet design that you can tether where you need it, then there’s the more portable tripod kind of projection screen, and finally, the motorized projection screen.
Some are better suited for different people’s needs, so keep reading after our list and we’ll go over some tips and advice for you to keep in mind when you’re looking to buy.
|Retractable?:||Yes — manual pull down|
|Viewing Area:||220.98 x 124.46 cm|
The first on our list is this affordable ceiling mounted projection screen from VIVO, which will be perfect if you’re looking to bring your living room or basement to a more cinematic level. It has a modest viewing area of 120°, which will allow you to watch from most places in your room, and with a gain or 1.1 and a matte white surface, the image will look beautifully crisp. The multilayer black matte border helps you keep your image looking sharp with little to not light bleeding.
|Retractable?:||Fixed — not framed|
|Viewing Area:||124.46 x 221.488 cm|
If you’re not looking to mount anything super heavy on your wall or ceiling, this style should be right up your alley. This is an ultra-portable Projection Screen from NIERBO that has a matte white front and solid black backing to ensure the picture hitting the screen stays on the screen. With a 1.5 gain, you’ll be able to get incredible colour definition and excellent contrast (especially with darker shades) that will ensure any 4K content thrown at it looks the way it should, and from anywhere within 160° of the screen.
|Retractable?:||Fixed — not framed|
|Viewing Area:||264.16 x 147.32 cm|
The biggest screen on our list comes from Powerextra, and rings it at a whopping 120”. This projection screen comes with everything you need to mount it indoors or outdoors (ropes, nails, etc.) but they even suggest that if you want to skip it, you can even use adhesives like tape to secure it indoors.
|Retractable?:||Yes — tripod|
|Viewing Area:||199.9 x 149.86 cm|
This next design comes in this model from PERLESMITH, which is both very portable and offers sturdier support to the screen (as compared to the two previous styles); this is, of course, the tripod Projection Screen. This screen is not only 100” with a 1.0 gain, but setting up this screen is so easy — just slide the tracks until they click into place, and adjust the image ratio by increasing or decreasing the bottom height.
|Retractable?:||Yes — motorized|
|Viewing Area:||132.08 x 234.7 cm|
This final model is one that gets a lot more high-tech: a motorized projection screen. The perks of having a motor is that when your screen is mounted up on your ceiling, you won’t need a step ladder in order to drop it! But there’s more! The screen has 1.1 gain and is what Elitescreens calls MaxWhite to ensure the best picture. To add to that, the fully black backing is made of fiberglass to best reflect the image back to you. Further, it ensures great viewing for 180° around the screen.
Depending on how big your room is, it can be tricky to figure out what will work best for your projectors needs and your projection.
First and foremost, you’ll need to know what the throw distance of your projector is. Most projectors are capable of exceeding 150” in screen size, but typically a throw distance of 6’ is optimal, so make sure you know how big that will be for your projector. It would be a shame to have a projection screen that’s 120” but the biggest picture your projector can offer is 80”... That white border won’t look great!
Further, if you’re installing it in front of your existing TV and home entertainment stand, remember that that means you’ll have an even bigger picture, even closer to your seating area. This can be overwhelming for some, even going so far as to cause vertigo.
So what does this mean? It means you may have to do some focusing both on your projection screen's placement as well as the fine tuning of your projectors output.
But don’t worry, once you’ve done all that, your new home cinema will be fantastic!
Projection screens work by reflecting the light from the projector back out to your eyes, this is why the best screens will be black backed, so that instead of light travelling through the screen (like with a bedsheet) it’s instead bounced back to you. This ensures that you see the colours as vibrant, contrasted, and nuanced and you would at a movie theatre or similar to a TV.
In short, the higher the gain (1.4+) the brighter the screen, with a standard brightness being 1.0. When you want to watch content that is 4K HDR, you’ll probably want a high gain, because that means more colour is being cast and reflected back — nothing bleeds away. However it can also mean that because it’s brighter, the darker shades get a little more washed out, but projectors in general just aren’t as rich as a TV, so take that how you will!
When we say that the viewing field is 120° through 180°, we mean that at 0° — dead centre, a few feet back from the screen — you’re seeing the absolute brightest image. The further out around the sides you move, the more light you begin to miss. This is in part because the projector itself is brightest in the centre of the cone of light as it has the least amount of distance to cover, compared to the outer edges of the screen.
We do recommend you take a look at what different screen gains look like before you buy, but if you’re working with a budget, get what you can afford!
Buying a projection is a great way to get the large display you want for your movies, TV, sports and more, without having to worry about buying the newest, biggest TV. With a few different designs on the market, we hope that any of the three from our list will be the best for your space and needs — from basement cinemas to outdoor movie nights under the stars.
Have you tried one of these screens or have a favourite one you use? Let us know in the comments!