It seems to me that Stewart are the king of screens. They certainly seem to be the most expensive brand, and all the reviewers have Stewart screens. Are they worth the extra $? By this I'm not asking about cost/benefit so much as - are they any better at all than cheaper screens?
Yes, they do perform better than lesser screens. If one is within budget, a Stewert Studiotek 1.3 provides not only an excellent image, but piece of mind knowing that your screen is reference quality. You can select a lower cost screen, but be prepared for screen texture and sparkling artifacts which are absent on the Stewarts. It IS possible to be happy with another manufacturer, but if you can chose do it.
I've had my new Stewart Studiotek 130, 96x54" screen for just over a week now, and I couldn't be more pleased. The difference between this screen and my Da-Lite 1.3 gain screen is not subtle. It's night and day. The Stewart just disappears and lets the movie shine through. Its main attributes are that it is just perfectly neutral with no distractions.
No hot spot
No color shift
No streaks or screen grain
No awful "sparklies" like on the Da-Lite
Easily one of the most satisfying purchases I've ever made.
Manual as in manual pull-down? I'm sure they do. Mine is a permanently-mounted fixed screen. Luckily it's a basement room, and there are no windows or anything else on that wall. Check Stewart's web site for more info.