I have pretty well settled on the size of the screen I will be using. It will be a 100 x 54, 1.85:1 screen. I will probably looking at a 1.3 to 1.5 gain. I am looking for comparison opinions of the most popular brands: Da-Lite, Stewart, Draper, and Vutech. I know that prices vary. I am looking for the best balance of quality and price. In other words value. If the Stewart are more than twice as good as the others, while costing a bit less than double, I would still consider that a good value. If the Vutech gives you 85% of what the Stewart offers, at half the price, that is a value. Let the opinions begin.
It may help to know what type of projector your using and how it will be mounted, as well as your requirements for fixed screen, motorized or manual, perforated or non.
It is also a very subjective thing comparing quality to price. It matters how important this is to you.
My projector will be an Electrohome 8501, (a fairly bright, 8 inch CRT projector in a light controlled room). It will be a fixed screen mounted on a wall in a dedicated theater room with no ambient light. The level of gain I am considering is to compensate for the size of the picture versus the light output of the projector. What I am mostly soliciting opinions on is brand vs brand vs brand. I know this is subjective, particularly when you ask a question of value, but that is why they are called opinions.
I hope some people wish to share theirs. Thanks.
A DIY screen sure throws off the whole price vs. performance curve. I made a really nice one for $20 by just stapling the blackout mat'l to the wall and surrounding it with black felt. It had no screen structure artifacts and no wrinkles (was careful to roll up properly when purchased). It was a very theatre-like experience with the lights off. I thought this was better than my motorized tab-tensioned Draper 2.5 gain $2700 screen (since I realy didn't need that gain any more and started noticing the screen structure and hot-spotting more at a brightness of 10000 lumens).
I was actually happy with the DIY until the GrayHawk came along. Now I'm spoiled. I took the DIY down and I'll be selling the Draper.
I would stick to something high gain in your case, at least 1.3. Probably either the Draper M1300 barring any mis-aligned screen snaps, or the Stewart Studiotech 1300 if you want the utmost in quality. Then there's DaLite, which I'm not too familiar with. There is another consideration as to whether it is ceiling mounted or floor mounted as to which hi-gain screen to get (retro-reflection vs. specular reflection - you can search the archives for this). -Carey
My projector will be ceiling mounted and the screen a fixed frame. I am reluctant to go the DIY route. Not because I doubt what others have done, but doubt what I can or will be willing to do. Please keep coming with those opinions.
I've had a 120" 4:3 DaLite CinemaVision 1.3 gain screen, which was a nice screen. It had kind of a faint parchment/yellow tint to it, but it was not noticable until I bought another screen to compare it to.
My next screen was a 144" 16:9 Draper M2500 2.3 gain fixed screen which I initially used with my Electrohome ECP Graphics FPTV (like the ECP4100), then I upgraded my projector to a Sony 1292Q, which is comparable to your 8501, and it was a good match providing enough brightness to support the larger screen.
I had an earlier mix of the 2500 material, so I didn't have the streaking problems that later owners had, but there was some visible hotspotting and colorshifting compared to my earlier lower-light output FPTV, but it provided more "punchy colors and better contrst" that the earlier screen.
The M1300 material would be the one suited to your projector size combo.
Then I wanted to go with a 180" perforated screen, and got a JVC G1000 D-ILA FPTV, and later a G15. For cost reasons with such a large screen I went with a DaLite Audiovision 1.0 gain screen, which seemed to provide a bit more detailed image than the higher gain screens.
And now I have a Stewart Grayhawk Microperf 180" 16:9 screen, which does provide the best image that I've seen yet. For your 8501 you would instead choose the regular StudioTek 130 screen which is more suited for CRT FPTVs. I used to think that the Stewart screens were overpriced, but now having lived with one, there is a notable level of both build and design quality which is better than the other screens that I've owned.
With your projector (a very nice one) and your screen size (not too big), you will get the best picture with a 1.3 gain screen.
A DIY screen (search this forum) would be your best value for performance.
You need to decide if you want a fixed frame or a tab tensioned roll down. I have a Draper cineperm screen that I like, but there are minor defects (it is not perfectly flat, since the buttons are not 100% precisely placed -- so I get some minor tension triangles, most people can't see them).
I've seen a tab tensioned roll down draper and it is perfectly flat. The M1300 material would be enough gain for your projector.
You can order (free) samples from the various companies. You should do this before buying a screen. Draper and DaLite were both generous with sending samples my way.
If I were to do it again I'd probably make the same choice (Draper), as its cost/benefit were about right for me. If my theater room was different and I had a flat (windowless) wall behind the screen I would go the DIY route, or splurge for a Stewart.
Cobb Pkwy shouldn't be too far since you are in Marietta.
I bought some curtain blackout material from Joann's on Cobb Pkwy (Aker's Mill Square next to Toy R Us).
My Dad has a Dalite Model B high power pull down.
We looked at them both and he really couldn't tell a difference.
He did say that his picture was brighter but for $9 who cares.
The fabric was on sale at 50% off at Joann's - $2.99 per yard, regular $5.99 per yard.
I purchased 3 yards.
If you have a projector with high lumens, then it won't matter.
The gain is 1.0 from what I understand.
I dont' have the screen mounted yet but I plan on getting my friend or my Dad or make me a permant mount screen.
I purchased some light weight wood from Home Depot for the frame.
There are several Joann's around Atlanta.
[This message has been edited by pcdoctor (edited 01-13-2001).]
In poking around some old posts on the screen forum this morning looking for more opinions, I noticed something interesting. The only company and screen that seemed to escape any criticism at all was the Vutec. That needs to be qualified. The only criticism of the Stewart screens are price. I still thought this quiet but universal approval of the Vutec was interesting and surprising. If anybody has criticism of the Vutec screens please share.
What about a VIDIKRON tab tensioned screen with 1.3 gain, what is the quality of that like?
That new projector is going to your head, there Gord....
Did you manage to get one with low hours? Has it arrived yet. I was talking to the guy when yours was going out the door... It should be getting there right about now.
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