Measuring Projector Screens

Measuring Projector Screens
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The size of your wall is important in determining your screen size but is not the only thing to consider. A common trap that people fall into is that they buy a screen that fits the width of the viewing room but do not consider the room depth. The depth of the room affects the viewing distance. If the screen is too small versus the room depth then you will not get the optimal viewing experience. If the screen is too large you could end up with neck, eye strain and headaches.

The challenge most people face is determining how to measure the size of their projector screens. Do you measure it diagonally, horizontally, or vertically? What kind of equipment do I use to measure it? It is quite simple to determine the dimensions of your screen. Knowing the dimensions of your projector screen is vital in helping you get the right screen size.

It also is important to find out the aspect ratio of your screen and that of your projector and ensure that they match.

Measuring Projector Screens Sizes

You may already be in possession of a projector screen and have plans to replace it. It is possible that you do not remember the screen size. Ensure you get the right dimensions with a tape measure. You can easily measure the projector screen size in two ways.

  1. Measure the diagonal length of your screen from the top-left to the bottom-right. The diagonal length of the projector screen is one of the most common measurements used when purchasing a screen.
  2. Another way to find out the diagonal length is to use the screen aspect ratio (if known) Convert your aspect ratio into a fraction, for instance, 16:9 becomes 16/9. Measure the width of your screen and multiply it by this fraction giving you the height of the screen. You can obtain the diagonal length of the projector screen by applying Pythagoras theorem (height2+width2=diagonal2). Obtain the diagonal length by taking the square root of diagonal2

Aspect Ratio

Different projector screens have different aspect ratios. The aspect ratio of a screen is the ratio of the screen width (W) to its height (H) 16:9 is an example of a popular aspect ratio. The aspect ratio of your projector screen should be compatible to that of your projector. This will give you the best viewing experience. Getting the right screen height by aspect ratio ensures you get the right screen size.

Widescreen (16:10) and HDTV (16:9)

This is compatible with projectors offering resolutions ranging from 4K UHD to 720p HD. If you have such a projector, you may need a larger screen. The height of the screen should be equal to around a third (1/3) of the distance from the screen to the prime seat in the house. This is of course, based on your viewing preferences.

NTSC/Video 4:3

For this aspect ratio, the height of your screen is dependent upon what you want to display. For general requirements such as watching TV shows or watching a movie, it is necessary to have a screen height of approximately one-sixth (1/6) of the distance from the furthest seat used to your screen. This is a recommendation for large venues such as cinemas.

NTSC/Video 4:3 in Classrooms or Boardrooms

Classrooms or boardrooms often require charts and smaller images. Therefore, you may require the same formula as above but instead, use a quarter (1/4) distance instead of one-sixth. Similar to the above screen height by ratio, it may be necessary to have a height of a quarter (1/4) from the screen to the furthest seat used.

Cinemascope (2.35:1)

Regardless of the fact that this format has a screen height by a ratio that is almost similar to that of the NTSC/Video, a third (1/3) measurement applies here similar to the widescreen and HDTV measurements. The quarter (1/4) distance may be more appealing since cinema viewing has a lot more to do with a person’s preferences.

Width in determining the size of the projector screen is rarely used. The reason behind this is that the height of the screen determines the width particularly when you know the type of video you will be watching. When purchasing a new screen, take into consideration the screen height and format supported.

Summary

The diagonal length of a projector screen is the most popular measurement used to indicate the size of a screen. It is quite easy to measure a projector screen using a tape measure. However, knowing the aspect ratio supported by your projector ensures that you obtain the maximum viewing experience on your projector screen. To determine the suitable height of the projector screen, use the aspect ratio you desire for your display.

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