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How to Choose the Right Projector Screen

by | Alec Olson

When it comes to a big AV purchase like a projector, most technology buyers invest a lot of thought, time, and research into the decision.

But other critical pieces of your projector puzzle, like the screen, sometimes become an afterthought. However, choosing the right projector screen is equally important to users’ presentation success.

What to Consider When Choosing a Projector Screen

Why is choosing the right projector screen so important? Simply put, it doesn’t matter how clear an image your projector can produce if your screen can’t display the image properly.

But knowing you need a quality screen isn’t enough. You also need to know which of the dozens of types of high-quality screens is right for your use case. Here are some factors to keep in mind to help you choose the right projector screen.

  • Screen size. Viewing distance — how far viewers will be sitting from the screen — plays the biggest role here. Generally, viewing distance should be one-and-a-half times the diagonal of the screen. So, if the viewing distance is 12 feet, the screen diagonal should be 8 feet or 96”. For a 4K UHD projector, the distance to screen size ratio shrinks to 1:1.

  • Frame type. There are two basic frame types for projector screens: fixed frame and retractable. A fixed frame screen is stretched over a rigid metal frame and is best suited if you have a large, dedicated wall space to house it. If you need your wall space for other uses, a retractable screen that can come down when you need it and be stored out of sight when you don’t is a better option.

  • Screen color. Projector screens come in either white or shades of gray. Gray screens provide greater contrast in images, especially deeper blacks, and can also improve image quality in spaces with a lot of ambient light.

  • Gain. Your projector screen gain affects the brightness of your image. The higher the gain, the brighter the image. This means higher gain screens also perform better in spaces with a large amount of ambient light. It is important to note, however, that as your gain increases, the optimum viewing angle decreases, so high gain screens are not a good choice for large venues where participants might be sitting to the side of the screen rather than directly in front of it.

  • Texture. The finer a screen’s texture is, the more detailed images it can show. The texture is especially important to maximize the impact of HD and 4K projectors.

Personalizing Your Projector Screen

In addition to the standard screen elements above, your particular use case might dictate a more specialized screen design. If your organization has multiple locations and conference rooms, you may prefer a portable projector screen that can be easily moved and stored.

If sound quality is just as important to you as image quality, consider an acoustically transparent screen with tiny holes or perforations that let sound from speakers behind the screen travel undistorted. If the ambient light in your space is too overpowering for a conventional screen, an ambient light rejecting screen is worth the investment.

An AV design expert can help you sift through the options and choose the projector screen that’s right for your audience, your application, and your space.

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