A review nobody really asked for. 120" eBay screen.

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by AllTaken, Feb 14, 2018.


    1. AllTaken

      AllTaken
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      A few might be tempted to try the budget options when it comes to projector screens, I was, here's my review of one example.

      120" Premier Electric Tab Tensioned Grey - Review. My review is based on one unit alone and does not reflect the entire size range.

      120" Premium Electric Motorized HD Tab Tensioned Projection Screen 16:9 Grey | eBay

      Screen arrived yesterday and was very well packaged, no concerns on the transit side as it had substantial protection.

      You will notice immediately how heavy this screen is. Everything metal on this screen is steel, no aluminium at this price point, something to keep in mind when mounting. Mounting solutions are convenient, included anchors for solid installation via 3 top brackets that slide along to the desired points. Wall mounting is possible with 2 included brackets that the screen hooks onto with a sill running the length of the reverse.

      Motor: Whilst smooth and largely judder free, it does produce more noise than you would expect, it's not likely to be an issue for many people, but something to consider if it could be a problem in your environment/screen location. Adjustments via the remote control/inline control box were tedious, and setting the stop distance was something I could not find/access on this screen. (I'm informed via the included instruction sheet it's possible via 2 screw points).

      Instructions: The instructions are very generic, no mention of adjusting the tab-tensioning is made. Installation instructions are also not available, though simple enough for most to work out.

      Remote control and control box:
      The price point of this screen (£299 at time of writing) uses a generic control box that is available as a standalone product on eBay, available in RF or IR and a combination of both for a little more. The options for this screen are using the RF generic box and removing/altering will void the 12 month warranty. The length of the lead is ridiculous, the seller does not allow extension of the lead (Warranty void) and only suggests an extension lead via the moulded plug. My screen came with a 1m length of cable either side of the control box, something that in most common ceiling heights would not touch the floor if that's required. The control box can be fixed to the wall via the included bracket and fixings. Remote control is RF but limited in range, I could not make it operate more than 4m away.

      Screen material quality: Upon first rolling down the projector the material (Vinyl, no fibreglass backing) was wrinkled and had signs of uniform lines horizontaly running along the entire screen, spaced evenly about 10cm apart. My first thought was to allow the screen time to warm up and settle, 24 hours later and no improvement. The 'ladder' lines extend the whole width of the screen and range from top to bottom, this leads to my next issue - this screen is grey and IMO should perform much better, I say this due to a large hot spot being visible from my projector, no matter the brightness, the hot spot follows the viewer, whether positioned left/right/centre, it is always visible and highlights the lines on the screen.

      Screen material and build quality is very basic - the material is sewn at the edges and borders glued with adhesive to further keep the material in place, on my unit the seams are peeling and will not adhere in place. DSE, yes DSE from poor LCD displays... that's the only way I can think to describe the 'whole' screen experience when motion comes into play, it's as though a residue is smeared, whilst it could be cleaned, I'm unsure of the results and feel I should not be doing this with a freshly delivered screen. The screen also has several areas of missing grey, roughly the size of two pin heads in each location, whilst not enough to distract and notice at normal viewing distance, it's a dampener when combined with the other quality issues. The black border surrounding the screen is not straight (in one area at the top it visibly zig-zags onto the grey material).

      Tab-Tensioning: My main draw to this budget screen was the tab tensioning system, avoiding the pitfalls of flexing and sagging screens. Unfortunately the tensioning system is very poor and currently is so slack that it doesn't serve a purpose , this unit uses cotton thread, yes, cotton thread to draw the sides outward. The tabs that this thread runs through are extremely flimsy, they consist of the border material, only no backing for support before being folded to make a simple tab, glued together at the fold. Whilst no instructions are provided to demonstrate adjustment of the mechanism, it can be seen that the cotton thread is attached to the top roller via a wrapped around screw into the plastic. Adjustments can be made at the bottom steel bar end caps, a small twisting cap (I assume the thread is wrapped around this inside) pulls the thread, it pulls the thread and does very little to the screen, the problem then becomes tension, not enough can be applied leaving it a pointless addition, if you try to apply enough to make the screen tighter I fear it would snap - after all it's cotton thread.

      The brand/seller: I luckily asked many questions before purchase, including return collection rather than paying for a courier, the seller said that should the product arrive faulty a collection would be arranged. I had to exercise this and after the seller wanted me to wait a few days for the wrinkles to perhaps resolve (the seller is certain that this would solve the issue), then 7 days, then discussing a small refund should the wrinkles disappear (due to the other issues), it appeared the seller did not want to deal with a return. After sending some more photographs this morning and requesting a collection for a refund the seller has agreed. I'll update on the status of my refund and if it was made in full.

      *** Update - refund received in full, seller was very short and non-communicative toward the end of the return process. I would advise anyone buying this screen to take many photographs in case you need to rely on them.***

      Conclusion: I decided to try this screen after becoming disillusioned by the sheer amount of uncertainty regarding premium screens, the disparity in pricing between two identical screens with different badges. The uncertainty and feeling of buying something that could have a huge mark-up and in reality could be nothing more than vinyl, that in another product sells for much less. I am now of the same opinion, only I certainly won't be buying another eBay budget screen - I'm glad however that I had the experience.

      Currently I'm moving toward an untensioned electric Sapphire or Optoma Panoview (I understand they may well be the same exact screen at different price points) either is covered by a 6 year guarantee with Richer Sounds, Sapphire informs me that waving/sagging is covered under warranty, which leaves me wondering why the tensioned options are offered for the same sizes in the first place....



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      Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
    2. paulr2006

      paulr2006
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      I bought a second hand Panoview 3 years ago after buying a cheap screen from Amazon which was awful. The Panoview is great, no wrinkles, Ripples & no edge curling, can't fault it.
      Yes same material as the Sapphire.
       
    3. Sunshinewelly

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      that looks awful - cheers for the review - at least i can start looking elsewhere now
       
    4. AllTaken

      AllTaken
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      Interested in what you're looking at.
       
    5. Sunshinewelly

      Sunshinewelly
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      the spitfire ones sound ok but ideally i want a grey screen as i cant black out my living room and always get some low level ambient light
       
    6. Abacus

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      Was there any glue smell (Most new screens have it and takes a few days to disappear?) as it looks like it is a used screen that has been damaged by a previous owner? (Definitely a send back job)

      Hopefully your next screen will be OK.

      Bill
       
    7. AllTaken

      AllTaken
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      Same position as me, the spitfire range don't give many details to justify the increase.

      I'm in a fairly light controlled living room, although I don't think it's just an issue of ambient lighting, it's also the reflective light from the screen itself which hampers contrast levels.

      My grey wall gave a better image than this eBay screen :( If I could motorise my TV out of the way then I'd buy a fixed screen in a heartbeat.
       
    8. AllTaken

      AllTaken
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      Hi Bill,

      Sadly this unit was brand new, the packaging was brand new (although it can of course be repackaged by the manufacturer/seller). The screen itself was the dead giveaway, it stank of glues/vinyl material and the way in which it rolled for the first time (if that makes sense?), I could simply surmise that it's a poor screen. If I pressed the border to the screen it would adhere for a few seconds before peeling again.

      I'm baffled by the eBay reviews, perhaps I'm too fussy, perhaps not many have purchased the 120" and choose the 110", one avforums member noted my case was different to his 110" version. I momentarily considered a replacement (I was not offered the option), I suspect the seller would become more difficult if trying to return a replacement. It feels like my issue, although I guess that is how the seller has prevented returns successfully before.
       
    9. KelvinS1965

      KelvinS1965
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      Have you seen my build thread? I have a fixed AT screen (made from Seymour XD material, but on a DIY wood frame). I have my TV on an electric lift so that it lowers out of the way for projector use.

      I haven't got access to my photos on this PC, but could probably find a link later on if you are interested: The material cost about £250 brand new in box, but secondhand and unused. The TV lift was about £350 or so, which meant that I saved £2,400 or so on buying a Seymour XD drop down electric screen as this was around £3K+ depending on the exchange rate when I ordered it.

      It was worth it for an AT screen, hiding my speakers from view and having the voices come from where they appear on the screen. It even works well for TV as the centre is just above the top of the TV and from the viewing distance it sounds like it comes from the TV.
       
    10. AllTaken

      AllTaken
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      Sounds ideal - if you could link me to some photos and the lift I'd be extremely grateful. I'm interested in knowing how low your TV can recess as this would dictate the size of the image for me.
       
    11. KelvinS1965

      KelvinS1965
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      I have a 50" TV for day to day use, I don't consider TV as particularly 'critical' viewing, so it's just a basic Panasonic LCD model, but crucially it has a very slim frame. This means that it can be lower to a mm above the ground and minimises the height the bottom of the screen has to be to clear the top of the TV.

      Try page 8 of this thread for pictures, there should be a video somewhere as well. Post #175 shows the TV up and down.

      When Worlds collide: The dedicated living room cinema

      I have some more 'finished' photos, which I will add to 'showcase' thread at some point, but they are on another PC to the one I'm typing on at the moment. I can post these tomorrow night if I remember...

      Do me a favour and don't 'bump' the build thread by posting on it. :)
       
    12. mbmapit

      mbmapit
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      Premium screens are just that, premium. They charge more because they are better built and have better materials. The good manufacturers do not rebadge their screens (Screen Research, Stewart, DT Screens, Seymour AV, Screen Innovations etc.) but the budget cheap screens do (Sapphire, Optoma etc.).

      I would be shocked if a company will swap a screen that has waves/sagging issues after weeks/months/years of installation. If they do, is it really worth buying it in the first place if you may need to remove it every year to return it for a new one? Why not pay a bit more for a good tensioned screen now and not have to worry for years to come?
       
    13. AllTaken

      AllTaken
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      Worth is a complicated matter, worth it to me? Yes. The expense of a £1500 tensioned screen vs £400. The Sapphire/Optoma line are reliable, at least according to Richer Sounds, who claim to have dealt with one warranty claim for a Sapphire model I was looking into. If the screen sags then warranty takes care of it.

      The saving would be used for far better things in life. Could you quantify the more premium aspects? I understand materials like ReAct surfacing, but fibreglass and vinyl being worth £800-£1000 more than another fibreglass and vinyl?

      I’ve noticed many premium screens shield their credentials, spitfire screens were the latest example spotted.

      I’ll happily pay more for something that has clear value and proven quantifiable evidence. Whilst this screen turned out to be a shambles, I’m not ready to declare that everything more expensive is well worth the money.

      Oh, a tensioned optoma or Sapphire, are they still budget screens because of the brand names?
       
    14. mbmapit

      mbmapit
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      Vinyl is just vinyl you're 100% right but what it is coated with is completely different company to company (just look at the amount of patents some companies have for their materials and coatings).

      I merely suggested that the manufacturers that I listed will all be better than the budget screens that you are currently looking at.

      Please don't take Richer Sounds word as gospel, don't forget they are the ones who are trying to make a sale so it is in their interest to sugar coat anything or everything.

      While they are still budget screens I would always pick a tab tensioned version of a cheap screen over a non tensioned version of a cheap screen.
       
    15. dms

      dms
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      This is not a comment aimed at richer sounds at all but completely general.... in my bitter experience I no longer take 'the word' of any company but would only agree to proceed (if my decision rested on it) based on something a in writing.

      You try arguing that some clerk said something was ok in a year's time....

      Just to give you an idea on how low they can sink about their word, my most bitter experience involved a company which recorded phone calls and then said it had proof I was wrong in an argument because they had reviewed their phone recordings. When I demanded and got those recordings they demonstrated they were completely wrong on every count (ie lying through their teeth). That was a certified car dealer.
       
    16. AllTaken

      AllTaken
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      Thanks both, I would of course have something in writing from customer services. (I plan on an email confirming sag/waves into the screen area being covered).

      I don't doubt that some more expensive screens have genuine coatings that could justify the increased cost, notice that many, many do not disclose that it's anything other than a 'special' coating (It could be grey paint). Worst still, some even rely on saying the word 'premium, elite, exclusive' and give no gain information, nothing to justify the cost - awful when reviews are extremely hard to come by.

      I'm torn between trying a more expensive screen than the non-tab tensioned Sapphire I'm looking at, but if I have it in writing that I'm covered and not many on AV Forums have reported issues over the years of ownership.....

      The premium tab-tensioned screens also have flaws from time to time, you'll see threads regarding laddering, sagging etc etc and that would also involve a warranty claim, I'm not sure which is the more reliable, the more commonly purchased cheaper screens (Optoma/Sapphire non tensioned) with few reports or less commonly purchased more expensive screens with more reports of faults. Minefield :(
       
    17. paulr2006

      paulr2006
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      I honestly believe you would not go wrong with either a Panoview or Sapphire non tab tensioned, I have several friends with Sapphire & my own experience with Panoview. All of them are great with no ripples, sagging or curling, the heavy bottom bar keeps them nice taught & flat.
       

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