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When designing a projection environment for your home, office or conference room, choosing the correct projection screen can sometimes be more important than the projector you decide to purchase. Budgetary constraints, size of the room, and type of presentation will dictate whether your screen is a fixed screen, motorized screen or a pull-down screen.  

The actual type of material that the screen is made from (of which there are many different types), can be more challenging.  The type of screen surface materials will yield better results depending on the type of screen surface material used.  The following article should help you answer the question "what kind of screen surface is best for me?"

1.    Grey high contrast projection screens

High grey contrast screen is a fairly common front-end projection screen material (where the audience is sitting on the same side that the projected image is displayed) .  High contrast grey projection screens offer a high-resolution image and enhance the depth of blacks while maintaining the quality of lighter colours.  An 0.8 low gain rating provides this type of projection screen with a wide 180° viewing degree, but requires an environment of low ambient light.  An excellent choice for any home theatre systems.

2.    Matt white projection screens

Matt white screens are used in over 80% of all projector and projection screen set-ups due to  it being the  most versatile and cheapest projection screen available.  Matt white screens project colours vividly while maintaining strong image clarity with no hotspots. 

Matt white screens and the way they distribute light evenly across a large area, boast very wide viewing angles. However, much like high contrast grey screens, the lighting of the room must be controlled to ensure that the best possible image is projected.  Matt white screens can be used in most situations to deliver a strong, quality image, and so it is unsurprising that this is the most popular projector screen on the market.

3.    Optical projection screens

What sets optical projection screens apart from other types of projection screens is their ability to display projected images effectively in environments of extremely high ambient light. Optical projection screens can be used in both front projection and rear projection applications, with the first being more commonly used. Optical projection screens differ from other projection screens because as the image passes through the screen, an optical lens system works to focus and further concentrate the image before it is reflected back towards the audience.  Non optical projection screens disperse light in all directions. Optical screen systems also absorb light from other sources and can therefore boost the contrast of the projected image to a staggering 20:1 ratio, almost ten times greater than the majority of other projector screens!

This superb image quality comes at a cost. Prices for high quality optical screens can range in the thousands of dollars. As a result, these rear projection screens are rarely used for personal home theatre or other presentation applications and are mainly used in large events that require a sharp looking, impressive screen such as sports stadiums, advertising displays, or television studio screens.

4.    High gain projection screens

The gain of a projector screen indicates the screen''s reflectivity, meaning the higher the gain ratio the more light that will be reflected back from the image source to the audience.  While this provides a brighter, more impressive image, a consequence known as "hotspotting" can occur in which the centre of the screen appears brighter than the sides, which can potentially cause a distraction for the people viewing your presentation.

A disadvantage to a high gain ratio is the lower viewing angle, meaning only those positioned directly in front on the screen will be able to view the optimal image. The main use for high gain projection screens is in situations where only a limited number of people are viewing the screen, for example in schools or shareholder meetings.

However, it can also be useful for road warriors using portable projectors who are presenting in conditions in which the light conditions can be variable or unknown. The brightness of high gain screens allows for the presentation to be visible regardless of the amount of light in the room.

5.    Acrylic projection screens

Acrylic projection paint allows any paintable surface to be transformed into a projection screen. This is perfect for portable projector users as they can create a screen almost anywhere they go and are not weighed down having to carry a large screen. It is primarily used in situations requiring rear projection in which the user does not want to have the projector on show.

This type of screen is not recommended for home theatre enthusiasts because there are no optical lenses on the surface of the screen. While the cost of these screens are substantially lower, it also means that the clarity and brightness of the projected image is of a far lower standard than most other projection screens.

6.    Acoustically Transparent projection screens

What makes acoustically transparent projection screens unique is that they are made from a diffusion surface or a woven fabric screen that consists of hundreds of minute holes. This allows the front speakers in a 5.1 system to be hidden directly behind the screen without a loss in sound quality.
The sound appears to emanate exactly from the source of the picture.

In terms of the picture quality, acoustically transparent screens combine the optical properties of both matt white and high contrast grey screens with an extremely wide 180° viewing angle, as well as particularly bright colours.

Obviously, the strong audiovisual performance of acoustically transparent projection screens makes them extremely desirable for those setting up home theatres and seeking the optimum movie experience.

We hope you enjoyed this article by Projector Source Canada.  For more information or to purchase a display and projector for your business or home, visit us online at

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