Widescreen Review has had a very long history of advocating projection as the ultimate display technology. Along with the projector is the necessity of accurate screen material to mate with the projector. We have been an advocate for low gain screens, neutral color screens where all colors of light would be reflected equally, and screens whose surface structure would not interfere or in any way reduce the detail found in high-definition content.
Picking the right screen is a critical factor in the optimum performance result delivered by your video source components and projection system.
Of course, a limiting factor in any home theatre projection system is the room itself. Screen manufacturers have developed materials to counter some of the problems associated with the appearance of the room––the actual
environment of the display system.
Our long association with video guru Joe Kane of Joe Kane Productions has taught us to specify
screen materials that will be neutral in reflecting the capabilities of the projector in the system. Different
screen materials can have either a positive or an adverse impact on performance. That is why the decision on what screen material to employ in a home theatre display system is absolutely critical to the end result. On a recent visit to Stewart Filmscreen in Torrance, California, the role that screen material plays on image quality was thoroughly investigated. Stewart Filmscreen develops each screen material based on its intended use. There
is no good, better, best product categorization of a Stewart screen material. Rather, Stewart determines which screen material to recommend, based on several criteria, including the amount of ambient light present, type of projector, and room environment. Stewart is introducing, for the first time, a seamless flexible front-projection
matte-white screen material that has been previously available only to professionals. This is a reference quality screen that exhibits better contrast, more detail, and far better uniformity over the entire image area than any other screen material the company has to offer. The new screen product is the StudioTek 100. The professional version, used in post-production facilities and optical labs, is the SnoMatte 100. This screen material does not exhibit the fine grain characteristics that other screens possess, and as a result the screen material does not cause interference with the tiny pixels associated with 1080p projectors. When properly installed in a completely black room, as in a studio telecine bay or a dedicated performance home theatre environment, this screen has no equal in terms of reference picturequality projection. The StudioTek 100 is an optical Lambertian diffusion surface screen, and disperses light in a near perfect hemispherical distribution allowing for smooth, even light reflection. This results in an extremely wide angle of view so that there is very little or unperceivable light loss when the viewer moves off-center. I recently directly compared the StudioTek 100 to a similar material developed by the Da-Lite Screen Company and marketed as a signature JKP Affinity Screen in the company’s HD Professional line. While the .09 gain JKP Affinity Screen exhibited excellent reference picture quality, the slightly tinted gray screen revealed less-than-ideal corner-tocorner white-field uniformity and white light brightness that wasn’t apparent when viewed on the 1.0
Widescreen Review September 2009 (PDF)