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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My Grayhawk ultimate 4-way has arrived and is installed for the most part.


This post includes my report card on how I see the Stewart fairing in my environment. I took a few screen shots prior to the installation. I will probably get a chance to take the after screen shots tomorrow and will post them on photopoint for y'all to see.


My previous installation was a 90" 4:3 DIY screen based on blackout material from Joann's Fabric. My projector is an Infocus LP350 with about 600 hours on the lamp. The Stewart screen is a 110" 16:9 Ultimate 4-Way Masking with Grayhawk material.


I have a very bizarre installation in that the screen is installed over a fireplace that extends from the wall about 5", is about 5' wide, and makes it impossible for me to mount the screen flat against the wall. I ended up leaning the screen against the fireplace and using 2 vecro'ed 2x4s to the firewall place in order to level the screen. I also attached four 220lb rated chains to the studs in the wall and hooked them through the brackets of the frame to prevent a tragedy of the screen falling forward. The chains are not visible as they are hidden behind the screen. The screen sits on its bottom frame on the step of the fireplace which raises it about 2' off the ground. Only time will tell if this installation will cause me trouble with the electrimasking system.


Packaging of Materials: B


The screen arrived in a coffin. Yes, you read that correctly. It came in a 300lb 10'x 2' wooden box. I half expected a scene out of Fright Night. The box top is sealed with about 18 screws. Inside the box, all components are attached by some mechanism (more screws) so they do not shift during shipment. All in all very high quality packaging. The only markdowns they get is for ease of use. It took about an hour for me to get the whole package apart. I would have preferred a package with more snaps and less metal.


Installation of Frame/Screen Material: A+


The frame comes in four pieces and snaps together into place with the need to tighten only 8 screws. The screen material snaps right onto the frame with ease and pulls it taut. Kudos to Stewart Engineering for coming up with such a slick install.


User Manual: D


I was able to complete the installation in spite of the 6 page user manual. Pictures should have been included in the frame assembly section. Also, instead of just warning the installer that Stewart is not liable for faulty installation, how about some pictures with suggestions for some non-faulty installations? The suggestion about placing the screen fabric on the ground and laying the frame on top to snap the screen bewilders me. If the installer does that, how does one get underneath to do the snaps? Finally, between the manual for the screen, the manual for the low voltage switch (for the automatic masking) and the specification I originally got for the screen, I am confused about how to hook up the electrical. I'm hoping my electrician will have better luck.


Updated 4-27-01: Modified the grade to a D. I had an electrician come to install the switches. Turned out the documentation was correct and so was my installation, but the switch itself was bad. Also found out today that I did not properly connect the bottom electrimask and I'm going to have to take the thing apart again. Lack of solid documentation materials have really hurt my installation experience.


Improved Picture Quality: B


The black levels are better without dimishing the whites. Color saturation looked about the same to me as my DIY. Tautness was always a pain on my DIY, and that's no longer the case with the Stewart and I am benefitting from that. I was surprised that when I went to calibrate my projector for black, contrast, and color that all the settings stayed the same. I figured I'd have to adjust black level and contrast at the very least. The bigger size is a huge benefit. 110" at about 13' away is just perfect. Masking the 16:9 image makes widescreen anamorphic more enjoyable than watching with black bars.


Automatic Masking System: C


Stewart gets a C for just providing the option. But come on guys, bare wires and low voltage kits? For the premium, and it is a heck of a premium between screenwall, horizonal electrimask, and ultimate 4-way, you should do better than that. The IR and electrimasking functionality should have been as easy to get installed as the frame and screen so even a dolt like me could get it working. I also shouldn't have to take a ride to home depot in order to get all the parts required. More on masking in a future post. I want to complete the electrical work before I comment on the masks themselves.


Price/Value: C


The price is high. The value is good. I can neither justify a higher or lower grade. I'm neither unhappy nor do I believe that at the price point the product exceeded my expectations.



Updated 4-27-01: Tech Support: A

Stewart employee Scott Amber helped my electrician complete the wiring. He also is sending me a new switch overnight. He was available with no waiting both times I called and I received no hassle.


Comparison snap shots coming soon...


--Les


[This message has been edited by arrow (edited 04-27-2001).]
 

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Arrow,


Not a particularly glowing report for the Grayhawk. Could you elaborate more about improved picture quality ie. black levels, contrast, colours etc.? The tautness and bigger screen size is obtainable from just about any other manufacturer and you seemed more impressed by these things than the improvements the Grayhawk is noted for - improved contrast, blacks and so on.


The improvements others are talking about seem, to some extent at least, restricted to LCD projectors. It would be interesting to see more comments from DLP owners about their projectors and the Grayhawk.


Cheers,


Grant Smyth
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Grant Smyth:
Not a particularly glowing report for the Grayhawk. Could you elaborate more about improved picture quality ie. black levels, contrast, colours etc.? The tautness and bigger screen size is obtainable from just about any other manufacturer and you seemed more impressed by these things than the improvements the Grayhawk is noted for - improved contrast, blacks and so on.
Grant,


I'll post photos this weekend. Those might answer your questions a little more objectively.


Subjectively, I think the largest visual improvements in the picture over my DIY are due to the tautness and larger screen size. The improvements in black levels and contrast are noticeable. But in my opinion, it's not as significant in my environment (fully controlled ambient light 12' x 18' room) as some are touting in their own environments. Color saturation appears to be about the same to my eye. I am hesitant to claim there is any color "correction" going on. I never saw the screens side by side and am doing this from memory. So maybe even I'll be shocked when I see the comparison photos.


So to summarize, the best I can explain it is that it looked good before. And I believe it looks slightly better now. But the difference in contrast, black, and color saturation from my DIY aren't enough for me to recommend that others trash their screens and replace them with grayhawks.

However, I can attest to the Grayhawk being a quality product and definitely worth a look for those who are in the market for a new screen.


Photos coming soon...


--Les
 

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Arrow,


Thanks for posting the pictures and the report.


TO be honest, I had a *really* hard time seeing any differences in the pictures before and after the GrayHawk. I know that it must be more dramatic in person.


You can see the difference in the color of absolute black (for instance, Joey's hair in the Friend's pictures), but the rest of the image appears almost unchanged.


Is the effect more dramatic in person?
 

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You can see a little improvement in the shadow detail on the Star Trek photos if you look at the background. But frankly, the photos do very little to show the difference. I compared the two by literally overlaying the Grayhawk over my Draper 1.0 gain screen - effectively splitting the screen. The difference is not small in person using this approach, mostly in the are of shadow detail. Blacks are marginally improved and whites suffer very very slightly...almost imperceptible even when splitting the screens. Colors appeared to be slightly more saturated too.


As for customer service, I'm really shocked at your experience. The service was exemplary from start to finish. Hopefully you experience was an isolated one as I know Don takes customer service VERY seriously.


Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences thus far.


Tom
 

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OK, here is my present report card:

16:9 96x54 fixed frame Microperfed Grayhawk. Ve-Lux deluxe border.


Packaging of Materials: A+

Best packaging I have seen in my life. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


Installation of Frame/Screen Material: A+

Although it was a simple process, the quality is good and well engineered.


User Manual: C-

Yeah there wasn't much to it, and I have to agree, that it could use a major revision.


Customer Support: A+

Every question I have had has been answered promptly and well by tech support there at Stewart or by Don himself. A major reason why I purchased a Stewart in the first place.



That is as far as I can go. I am not putting the screen up in my construction environment yet so it doesn't get dusty and damaged.


So I will update in the next month as I get to actually see the picture improvement.



Cheers,


Cameron


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-- Well I have really blown my budget now. --
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Mark...In defense of the Grayhawk, the Olympus 3040Z has a very hard time in properly producing light level using the automatic setting with no flash. A better analysis could have been done if I would have manually set the aperture and shutter speeds until I got a picture that would have better reflected the black level. Since I didn't do manual settings in the before pictures, I decided also not to do it in the after in order not to taint the results. Maybe I'll go back and take manual pictures now for a third comparison.


In person, the effect on black level and contrast is evident. But, in my environment, it wasn't nearly as dramatic as you might expect considering what has been posted about gray screens. Color saturation is about the same and I think adequately reflected in the pictures. If I was forced to slap a number on it, I'd say about a 5-10% improvement in overall picture quality.


Tom...Customer service has been very good. Scott Amber has been very helpful. The MCIR circuit boards have been awful. Now two have exploded. Scott is sending me two replacements. The documentation is also awful.


David...the Ultimate 4-way with IR remote capability cost me about $6400 from AVS and included the 10% promotion. Moderator, if this information is against the rules of the forum, please either inform me and/or edit this out.


--Les
 

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I would agree with Les about the amount of improvement the Greyhawk gives. I took some pictures of before and after with an Olympus 2020Z in manual mode and discovered that what the camera saw and what I saw varied. The original screen was a Vutec 1.3 gain 103" fixed wall mount, which I replaced with a 100" Greyhawk fixed mount. I shot at a distance of 8 feet with settings of ISO 100, F4.0 and 1/8 sec. What I discovered was if I used the exact same settings with the Greyhawk, the picture was darker, and I had to lengthen the exposure to 1/4 sec. Comparing the properly exposed pictures side by side didn't reveal much difference; however, in person, the low light shadow detail seemed better in the Greyhawk. Perhaps this is due to the iris in the eye opening up a little more to compensate for the lower light level? I would post pictures, but they don't seem to reveal anything more than what Les has already shown.


On another topic, if anyone is interested, I found a place that sells LP350 ceiling mounts for $135 + $10 shipping. You add a few pieces of plumbing pipe from Home Depot for < $10 and you've got a pretty good setup. The unit is called an RPA350 and it's sold by C & G Marketing in Spanish Fort, Alabama (334-621-1971).


Al
 

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I noticed two significant variations between the before and after pictures. One was on the highway bridge and helicopter scene (True Lies?). I liked the before picture better, the one after seemed to me to be too dark and not realistic of what the Caribbean sun reflection on the ocean looks like. The other photo that I noticed some change, was the one of a space craft approaching some sort or docking station. The after picture showed more detail in the gray areas.


I wonder if someone has posted before and after Greyhawk pictures, where the before pictures were with a known quantity. That is a commercial screen with a set gain value vs. the Greyhawk which I believe has a gain of 0.9.


Frankly, I think you did an excellent job on your DYI screen, so much so that I do not see a $6400 improvement. However, as someone else posted in this thread, the cameras do not capture the complete story. By the way I do appreciate you posting the price. I am dreaming of a motorized screen and had no idea how much one would cost.


Thank you for the report.


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cai
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
One quick update:


Over the past couple weeks, I have noticed that NTSC viewing material is much improved when projected on the Grayhawk. Colors are more saturated and contrast seems significantly better. I'm actually enjoying NTSC more.


With that said, I have no idea why I'm seeing such a major difference in NTSC material and a relatively small difference in DVD and HD material. Maybe it has to do with the quality of the image one starts with.


--Les
 

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The Grayhawk (and most likely Dalite) gray screens show off best with ambient when compared to white screens.


In an A/B comparison, white screens get washed out significantly with even minor ambient light.


In controlled light, the differences are far less apparent.


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Ken Elliott
 

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That seems so fantastically expensive for the results.

Do you really think a $6000 projector with a $6000 screen looks as good as a $12000 projector and a DIY screen?

That being said, your home theatre blows mine away. Netamashii!
 

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Much of the expense of a screen goes into making it flat when its retractable. For a framed screen the cost is generally much less, certainly not $6000 and even then much of the cost is in the frame.


Dalite material runs from $3 to $12/sq. ft. Although Stewart runs more, most of the cost is still in the frame as far as I know.



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Ken Elliott
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Defiler:
That seems so fantastically expensive for the results.

Do you really think a $6000 projector with a $6000 screen looks as good as a $12000 projector and a DIY screen?
Defiler,


Great question.


My thinking was that a screen would last me 10 years or more(hopefully) while projector technologies are moving mcuh faster, so I couldn't see owning a projector for more than 12-18 months. So in other words, I felt the screen was an investment that would hold its value. Only time will tell if I was right.


Curiously enough, the price of the screen was affected most by the addition of electric masking and IR capability. Without these features, the screen costs about 1/3. So why did I foot the bill for the electric masking? I figured if I was going to buy a screen, I was going to do it right.


--Les

 

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Going from a Stewart 16:9 perf to a Greyhawk Perf with my G11 & HTPC I noticed a difference in black levels.

My "non-HT" wife & next door neighbors who have seen several movies in my theater even noticed a difference. To Them it looked better than before.

The average person who watches movies at my house is not an enthusiast, so to me having them notice a difference makes me think that the upgrade was worth it.

Also: Packaging A+, Installation A+ (easy, just snapped in [place of my old screen), Customer Support A+ (quick response to all emails), Manual N/A as I never looked at it due to simply snapping the new screen where the old screen was. The replacement screen was a perfect fit.
 
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