How to Choose a Projector Screen

How to Choose a Projector Screen
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Great! You’ve decided you want a projector screen in your home. Why wouldn’t you? The large screen and high picture quality make for a perfect viewing experience.

The decision comes easy to many consumers yet finding the perfect projector screen isn’t that simple. Everything you need to know about picking a projector screen is presented below. This makes it easier for you to compare different options in the market.

Features to Look for in a Projector Screen

There are six important features to look for in a projector screen. When you have the best of these features you increase your chance of purchasing a projector screen that will give the best quality images.

The Size and Aspect Ratio

These two go hand in hand. The size must fit the aspect ratio and vice versa. The size is determined by width, length and the diagonal distance.

The length and width give an indication of how well the projector screen will fit in the room. But the diagonal size is the most important. With the diagonal size you determine the:

  • true viewing display
  • best seating arrangement

If the projector screen measures 87’’×60’’ that is the total size of the screen. It doesn’t measure the full display. The reason is that there is generally an edging around the white sheet. The edging affects the size of the display screen.

If the screen is diagonally measured 80’’ from the top corner to the opposite bottom corner you will have 80’’ of viewing pleasure.

With the seating arrangement the general rule of thumb is that the viewing distance should be 1.5 times the diagonal screen. For example, if the diagonal dimension is 96’’ which is 8ft, then the viewing distance is 12ft from the screen.

Now the aspect ratio needs to be in accordance with the diagonal dimension. If it is the image won’t be cut off, helping you have a full viewing experience.

The aspect ratio represents the width to height ratio of the viewing frame (not the screen in total). The higher the number the better the images displayed as they’re done so largely without any distortion.

The most popular aspect ratio is 16:9. This size is presented in screens with a 4K and HD quality. 16:10 lets you have a wider screen whereas 2.35:1 is the cinemas’ screen format ratio.

Higher aspect ratios also lead to excellent image quality.

The Screen Gain

You will definitely see the screen gain when comparing the different projector screens’ descriptions. So what exactly does “screen gain” mean?

Gain is the measurement which describes the light reflectivity of the fabric.

The standard gain is 1.0. This means that the light directed to the screen reflects back at the exact same brightness. The gain isn’t always 1.0. It can be higher or lower any gain:

  • higher than 1.0 means that the screen’s fabric will increase the brightness of the projected image. This guarantees the light projected doesn’t obstruct the viewing quality.
  • below 1.0 means the image produced on the screen won’t be as bright.

The ambient lighting also affects the quality of the images reflected. If your screen is in a brightly lit room, there is a chance the images will look washed out. In these environments it’s best to have a high gain fabric to make up for the increased brightness.

The Viewing Angle

This is another feature you must compare because it’s the measurement which describes the maximum angle from the center of the screen, that you’ll still see a quality image.

The light reflection is often perpendicular to the center of the screen. This causes the sides to be darker for viewers sitting by the edges of the screen rather than directly in front.

You need to find the perfect balance between the screen gain and viewing angle. This way you can sit at any angle and not experience any dark spots.

The Fabric Color

The color of the screen also affects the image contrast. In most cases white and grey are the only two-color screen options:

White screens are perfect for light reflection. The basic color also ensures colors are not contoured.

Gray screens are referred to as high contrast screens and are better at handling darker tones. These screens also control the effects of ambient lighting better. They’ll reflect less light. Grey screens need a powerful projector to make up for the light colors and darker whites.

Currently a new product has appeared: black screens. They are even better than grey screens but are still being improved as they can result in hot spots. They also don’t allow sound to go through them.

The Texture

Some screens are smooth, or they feel gritty. The screen’s texture is an important aspect to consider when you want the finest detailed images.

If you want high definition of 1080p images, then opt for the smoother surface.

If you prefer to have a 4K or enhanced 4K (which is the highest quality) opt for the finer grit surface. The grit shows detail and depth better.

Projector Screen Type

You need to also consider the different types of projector screens.

Electrically powered projector screens can be mounted on the wall or ceiling. They make use of a motor to raise and lower the screen by using a remote. These have plug and play designs but there are manual versions too.

These manual versions can also be mounted on the wall or ceiling. They may also have tripod designs or floor risings. These styles are classified as portable projector screens.

Other portable projector screens which are easier to move include a tabletop and a folding frame design.These options are best suited for schools.

Fixed frame projector screens are mounted on the wall. They can’t be rolled up. There are curved options to expand the viewing angle without affecting the screen gain.

If you want to take the viewing experience outside you can. Use outdoor folding frame and inflatable outdoor screens.


We hope that you found this primer useful. With this new information you’ll know which type of projector screen you want, but more importantly, need. What is at the top of your list? You’ll love your final selection when you shop wisely.

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