I'm sure my experience with my new SMX screen is similar to many of you out there. I've owned a number of screens over the last nine years. Several from the secondary market (Da-lite and Stewart) and a couple of new screens (Carada and Prismasonic), but SMX certainly has the best attributes of all the screens I've used...in some areas certainly topping them all.
As others have stated, the screen arrives in as secure of packaging as any screen I've ever seen (comparable to any electronics hardware). Can damage still occur...yes. But, they've taken as many precautions as possible. What the packaging conveys is a sense that SMX respects the product and wants the product to perform at it's max level (no crushed velvet framing etc).
Once I unboxed the frame and read through the directions, I noticed a very detailed level of knowledge and experience was coming through with the step by step instructions. There isn't a need to interpret or find a work around to accomplish the final task.
But, (there are always at least one "but")...installing the screen material does take patience, sweat (I sweat easily
) and steady hand. As I stated earlier, I've worked with a number of screens. From the easiest to assemble and hang, like Carada, to the most difficult like Prismasonic.
As I've stated in my other review of the Prismasonic, the biggest plus (being able to switch out the screen material to any raw material at any time)...the flip side minus is the difficulty in attaching the material to the frame without the proper tension. My long worded "set-up" is to explain that SMX's material installation is not the snap in place, everything is tight and hang. The material takes time, effort and a steady hand to get the proper tension without wrinkles or waves. It took some time to get it right.
One of the issues was the pre-channel clips slipping out and having to go back and re-do several points on the frame. Once the material was in place...it looked good. The plus side to this system vs a snap in place... like the Prismasonic, you can use any raw material in the SMX screen's frame....HUGE benefit in my opinion, as one changes projectors, one can change material without buying a new screen frame too.
Once I put the screen together, I entered the point at which my wife fears......HANGING THE SCREEN. If she was a horror writer like Steven King, she'd have written an entire series of scary novels based just her distaste and fear of helping me hang our screens. Since my son is not old enough and I don't have any of those (good guy neighbors), she is recruited to help me each and every time.
As others have stated, SMX provides two bars with "hooks/ledges" at the top and bottom that fit into the frame's channels. The bars are mounted on the wall. Studs are needed to handle the weight of the frame and peace of mind. The wall mounting of the bars allows some flexibility since they can be mounted wide range of distances apart. The closer together the frame will stick out from the wall. The farther apart the bars are the closer to the wall the frame will be. I found it really easy to mount the bars.
Now we get to the dreaded hanging of the frame (my wife's fears, not mine). It was 10:15 pm and she was sound a sleep. She agreed to help me...so wakey, wakey. Half asleep and somewhat grumpy (understandable), she picked up one end and I hoisted the frame up with the removable support bar that is located in the middle of the frame (used for this purpose and to keep the velvet frame from crushing during the build process). The great thing about the center bar is it allows one to mount the frame to the wall mounts much easier. When mounting from the sides, you are jockying back and forth to make sure you hit the mark. With a center support bar to hoist the screen onto the mounts, you can put a step ladder in the middle and easily guide the frame in place. It's definitely a two person job. Luckily, it took seconds to mount to the wall. My wife went back to bed and I admired my new screen.
The pluses of SMX screens:
1) The black hole velvet surrounds the frame. This is the BEST absorption material I have ever seen. What stood out to me was the sharp lines that were created by not seeing the image spilling onto the frame. Zero noticeable light spill, which creates completely clean lines. The second benefit to no noticeable light spill is the floating effect the image has on the wall.
2) The screen material is outstanding. I've purchased the solid matte white. I assume that it has some gain? 1.1ish?? Two things I noticed right away was the details that were lost to some degree in the shadows and the extra "pop" the image had on the SMX. I know that Stewart sells the concept of HD1080P type material....meaning the higher level of resolution of the projectors will benefit from their G3 versions of their material. I don't know how true that is, but I respect Stewart and their products. What I am seeing on the SMX material is what I would expect when using the new G3 Stewart material...a more revealing image/detail.
3) The allure of the curved frame stood out to me. The difference between the Prismasonic mounting and the SMX is the ability to have the screen mounted farther from the wall. The Prismasonic mounts close to the wall. As stated, the SMX can be mounted farther from the wall. I think the mounting farther from the wall accentuates the curvature, which to me is a plus. Some feel the curvature is more immersive, I would agree.
All in all, I couldn't be happier with the SMX screen. The level of love, pride and thought put into the SMX products comes through when dealing with the company and specifically Ruben. Well done!
PS: We had a parents church group over for drinks Sunday night and one consistent comment was the screen. I thought the pastor's wife was going to rip it off the wall and take it home with her.