There are pro and cons with every projector, but in this price range I don't see the blacks as an issue. The backs are better than most emerying out there in this price range and this projector is significantly better in other areas. I think?
Even on my Firehawk, at 128" diagonal, I find the blacks coming out a bit to bright a gray for my taste. Remember, I'm spoiled, my JVC RS1 - at about twice the price of the HC4900, does the best job on black levels of any fixed pixel (LCD, DLP, LCOS) projector I have tested.
I would think Stewart's Grayhawk would be a great matchup, and for less money, alternates would include Da-Lite's HC Da-Mat, and Carada's affordable HC gray surface. Carada's is one I've never worked with, but from my understanding it is a dark gray, that should match very well. If you want to go larger screen sizes, the Firehawk, and Elite's HC gray surface, would be reasonable options. I'd avoid, in general, white surfaces, unless your primary purpose is non-movie content, such as sports viewing.
Mind you, the blacks, while not extremely dark, are at least comparable to most DLP projectors using the Darkchip 2, and it does a better job, than, say almost any 720p LCD projector. That said, of the LCD 1080p projectors, the HC4900's black levels are lighter than the Panasonic PT-AE1000U, the Epson Home and Pro Cinema 1080, and, of course the Mitsubishi HC5000.
the HC5000 (now discontinued) was rated at 10,000:1 contrast, whereas the HC4900 is rated at 7500:1. However, we don't see a significant difference between the two in actual contrast performance. Moreover, the HC4900 does not fall too far short of the Sanyo Z2000 where contrast is concerned, and the Z2000 is rated at 15,000:1. It strikes us that Mitsubishi was exceptionally conservative in the rating of this particular model.
Still Projector acknowledges the Z2000 has better blacks and each has areas they excel over the other. Isn't the Z2000 about a thousand dollars more even after the rebate? Thanks, but I think I'll get a gray or silver screen as suggested by Projectorreviews above.
I am comparing this model to my old AE900, which has about the same (I think less) usable movie watching ANSI relative to picture quality compared to the HC4900. AND higher contrast/blacks. MHO and disclaimer, I am a newbie and have a lot to learn and am appreciative of this forum. With that I would like to offer an opinion the more I read this thread I am not sure all the concerns about contrast and blacks are warranted? Isn't the selection of a projector all relative to the other options you are actually considering and how they meet your needs? Can you use a gray screen or would I even notice the difference unless they were side-by-side? I went through this same process and someone on this forum said that he bet I when get this projector I will just love it (AE900). He was right and ignorance can be bliss. Just make sure you are in the right ballpark and use Projectorcentral's screen calculator and I think you'll do just fine. There are a lot of good choices I just don't see any others within $1,000 right now, do you?
In a week I'll let you know my impressions.
Right now I am back to reading about screens. I am going through the same mind numbing process as I did with my projector decision until the price drop hit this projector. Now when the Firehawk makes a similar drop I'll just by the Firehawk. The Firehawk looks like and excellent screen and I am considering (darn you Tryg) a DIY. I am about four hours into this now and there are some exciting choices.. To build or not to build. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=240074
Tryg recommended reading this link for screens very interesting!
I may even use two screens. I bought the cheapest pull down white I could find to start with and I will likely build a DIY Firehawk gray/silver one for movies (70% of our viewing). I will have the option of keeping both, the white one for the sports and the DIY Firehawk for movies any comments?
I have some reading to do, but I am leaning toward the DIY Firehawk as the permanent screen with an inexpensive white pull down over it. I need to do a search for people that have used two screens. Then again if the Firehawk performs like the reviews I'll just sell my cheap white one.