Alright, here are all my thoughts and comparisons -- surely it’ll cover everything anyone deciding between them wants to know. This turned out to be a novel, but… haha, it’s ok, I was actually imagining writing something like this as I put the Monoprice screen together. Glad to see there’s already an audience for it.
There are definitely pros and cons of each, from the shipping to assembly to hanging. The reason I switched was to go from 16:9 to 2.35:1, not for any reason of quality or disappointment in the Elite. The Elite was 120” fixed white 1.1 gain. It is a great screen and I was very happy with the quality. The fabric was perfect with no shiny spots or anything. The only flaw was a couple spots in the velvet “spray” on the frame, but I never paid it any attention after it was assembled and hanging on the wall since it wasn’t part of the picture. They were only bothersome as I was examining the parts when pulling stuff out of the box.
The top and bottom frames are split in two, and while this sounds like a concession for cheaper shipping, once it’s assembled you can’t tell at all that it’s connected in the middle. They look like one piece. After the frame is together, tensioning the screen material is a tedious process. There are a million tabs you have to put in place while pulling the material. You have to stretch it quite a bit, but once it’s done there are absolutely no wrinkles, the material is perfectly flat. Your thumbs will be sore from putting in all the tabs. Side note: while perfectly adequate, the rods you slide into the material edge to hook under the tabs, are plastic.
After the fabric is tensioned, you put an aluminum vertical spreader bar in the middle to make the middle height the same as the edges. This allows the screen to be hung only from the top, which is a good thing. The hanging brackets are great, and very simple. Two short brackets screwed into the wall and you’re done. They both support the top edge of the screen, French-cleat style. The sides of the black frame end up being tight to the wall all around. Looks very clean.
The box was 5ft long, weighed 35-40 lbs, and Fedex or UPS dropped it on my front doorstep no problem.
Cost was $315 on Amazon with free shipping. A bargain for how nice the screen is.
On to the Monoprice screen. I got the 150” 2.35:1 fixed white 1.0 gain. This maintained the same height that I had with the 120” 16:9 screen. First off, Monoprice charges for shipping, which ran me $165. Worse still, is that the top and bottom rails are one piece, so the box was 12 ft long. Sure, this is nicer in the end when installed (although arguable since the Elite really looked seamless) but the long pieces make shipping a nightmare. In addition to the $165, I had to deal with the drama of the driver not wanting to come down my street because he was in an 18-wheeler. The person on the phone setting up the delivery 2 days before didn’t offer me anything but a big rig, but then the driver really complained and all but lectured me on not requesting a smaller truck. They should give you all the options when setting up the delivery, not just offer a big rig. It sounded like “big rig or nothing.” If you want your stuff, that’s how it’s gonna come. Another example of UPS making life difficult…
Anyway, so the assembly of the Monoprice is actually easier, because you slide in little plastic “chess pawns” into a channel in the back of the frame rails, and then slide in metal (vs plastic) rods into the edges of the screen material. You then simply hook the metal rods over the pawns and that gives the material its tension. There have been previous posts about there not being enough tension with the Monoprice screens, but I found it plenty adequate. There are no wrinkles in my screen at all. I stretched it horizontally first and it was all I could do with the strength in my fingers. I was really afraid it would tear.
The hanging brackets are more complicated. There is a long one for both the top *and* bottom. The weight of the screen rests about 1” away from the wall rather than right tight to the wall like the Elite bracket, so make sure it’s screwed on tight. Also, because there is no vertical stretcher bar, the bottom bracket is supposed to space out the middle of the screen to the proper height. This puts even more strain on the top bracket. After it’s hung, the black frame isn’t tight to the wall like the Elite, but I’m just mentioning that for comparison, it’s not a big deal in the end. You can slide your fingers behind the frame with the Monoprice. Also, forgot to mention… the Monoprice frame pieces are noticeably heavier than the Elite, due to I believe material thickness and width.
I find the velvet coating on the Monoprice frame of better quality, and there are no flaws whatsoever. The frame itself is about 3/4--1” wider than the Elite, but both look proportionate. The screen material is pretty comparable, as it looks like the same texture on close inspection. The Elite material was better protected in the packaging however, carefully rolled good side “in” with a piece of paper rolled in with it. The Monoprice material was rolled good side “out” with no paper and plastic slid over it. It may be unrelated to the packing method, but my *only* complaint about the Monoprice material is that there’s a slight shiny vertical line just to the right of center, about a foot high. It’s rarely noticeable, and only visible in really bright scenes, but once you know it’s there…. (Not worth trying to exchange anything though).
So all in all, both are great screens, and anyone considering them would be happy with either. Your choice can depend on the size and aspect ratio you’re looking for. The 120” 16:9 was cheaper with the Elite than Monoprice, and the big 2.35:1 was cheaper with Monoprice than Elite. Also, Monoprice offered a 150" 235, the exact size I needed. Elite only comes in 138 and 158 within that area.
Summing up the pros and cons:
Small box, free shipping from Amazon
Well packaged screen material rolled with paper
Easy, simple hanging brackets
Cheaper in 16:9 format
Tedious to assemble
Two-piece top and bottom rail
Narrower frame looks less proportionate the bigger size you get
Velvet frame coating lower quality
More expensive in 2.35 format
Cheaper for 2.35 format
One-piece top and bottom frames – heavier gauge aluminum
Easier to assemble
Expensive, UPS Freight shipping
Screen material not packaged as carefully
More complicated hanging brackets
More expensive for 16:9 format