How to Choose the Right Projector Screen

Choosing the right projector for your business may be a tricky task and getting the right one matters. You know what else matters? The screen!

Which screen should you pick? And is a projector screen even necessary? This article will help you to make the right decision.

Why You Need a Projector Screen

Is a projector screen absolutely necessary? Actually, it’s not. You can use a white wall or a whiteboard as a screen – if the surface is very smooth and the room is completely dark. However, it is hardly possible to fulfill these requirements in the office environment. And even if you do, a dedicated projector screen offers much better image quality.

So how exactly do projector screens work? In simple terms, they gather as much light from the source (projector) as possible and reflect it back to the viewers. With the right projector-screen combination, you get a bright image with vibrant colors, high contrast, and good black levels.

Types of Modern Projector Screens

When you first search for a projector screen online, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the endless varieties. However, choosing the right type of projector screen is not as hard as it seems – when you know what to look for.

Here are the main characteristics that you should consider when choosing a projector screen for your office:

Fixed and Retractable Screens

Fixed screens are placed on a wall and stay there. If you have a room solely dedicated to watching video on your projector, it is the default choice.

But in multi-purpose spaces such as meeting rooms, using a retractable projector screen makes much more sense. The folding mechanism of a retractable screen can be manual or motorized.

A retractable screen is a must if you have a small room, and you need to optimize the use of your wall space.

Aspect Ratio

Most modern projector screens come in two main formats: 16:9 and 2.35:1. 16:9 is your usual HD aspect ratio. And the 2.35:1 format, also known as CinemaScope, is primarily used for cinema theatres and home cinemas.

There are some other options such as 16:10 and 4:3, but they are not as widely used. Generally, you will want to go with a 16:9 projector screen. It works well for PowerPoint presentations, video conferencing, and other meeting room applications.

Projector Gain

As we said above, a projector screen’s main purpose is to reflect the light that is produced by the projector. The gain number shows how much light is reflected by the screen.

High gain means a brighter picture, but it comes with downsides such as inaccurate color representation and so-called “hot-spotting” when the center of the picture looks brighter than the edges. Low-gain screens are less bright, but they offer better contrast and black levels.

Screen Texture and Material

As a rule of thumb, the smoother the surface of a screen, the better the quality of the image. However, some screens come with additional surface features.

Acoustically transparent screens are perforated or use woven material so you can place speakers right behind the screen for maximum viewer immersion. They are commonly used in cinema theatres.

Ambient light rejection (ALR) screens are the best choice when a projector is used in a well-lit environment. They are expensive, but in this case, a high price tag is justified.

How to Choose a Projector Screen for Your Business

Now that we learned about the main characteristics of projector screens, let’s discuss each characteristic as it relates to an office application.

Aspect Ratio and Size

As we stated above, unless you are planning to regularly screen movie blockbusters in your meeting room, a 16:9 aspect ratio should be your format of choice.

When considering the screen size, the 4/6/8 rule may come in handy. It says that for analytical viewing (when a viewer must analyze an image with a lot of data or fine detail), the ideal viewing distance should be less than 4 times the height of a screen.

Basic viewing (large text and less detailed content) is effective at a distance of 6 times the height of the screen. Passive viewing, when the audience is not actively involved in analyzing and working with data on the screen, is effective at 8 times the height of the screen.

Projector Brightness and Throw Range

Projector throw ratio is a term that describes how far your projector must be placed from the screen to produce the desired image size. Make sure you have enough space in your room to place your projector at the right distance. Or, if you want to have a bigger screen in a smaller room, consider using an ultra-short throw projector.

Image brightness will also be directly affected by the size of the screen. The larger the screen, the dimmer the image. If you want a really big screen, make sure your projector is bright enough to handle it. Here is an online calculator that can help you decide.

Projector Gain for Office Environments

A high-gain screen will probably be the best choice unless your meeting room is pitch black. In an office environment with a lot of ambient lighting, brightness becomes the main issue.

High gain helps to resolve it, but, as we said above, at the cost of overall image quality. So, if your budget allows it, consider buying an ALR screen instead…

Ambient Light Rejection (ALR) Screens

ALR screens are considerably more expensive than regular ones, but if your budget allows it, buying one may be the best option.

They are considerably more expensive but offer excellent brightness and overall image quality. Note that different types of ALR screens should be used depending on your projector’s throw ratio.

Now you know all the basics for choosing the right projector screen for your office. However, each case is unique and may require professional help if you want to get the most out of your projector setup.

Our experts are always ready to help with all your AV needs. Call us now and let’s talk!

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