Review of cheap ambient light supporting highly reflective screen material

waysu

Standard Member
Review of cheap ambient light supporting highly reflective screen material

I recently bought some of this screen material second hand from iTou on this forum and thought I'd post my opinion on it in case it's useful to anyone, here is the classifieds link: For Sale - 100" Reflective Fabric Screen (Daylight) £20

Not sure if I'm allowed to post external links to products for sale but it is also available new in different sizes on famous web auction sites!

This material is like the grey reflective material on high visibility jackets which use Total Internal Reflection to send light back towards the source of the light (like road signs). It seems pretty durable in that I've opened it out and folded it and put it away multiple times and there has been no apparent damage to the surface. It is creased though due to folding in shipping (see below.) I am not an expert on how projected images "should" look so all of this is very much my opinion. Having tried out this material, in the right situation I think it works really well producing a bright and vibrant image, even with (carefully controlled) ambient light.

With ambient light, comparing it to projecting onto a flat light coloured surface, there are deeper blacks and, from some viewing positions, a brighter image. So it can make viewing with ambient light more enjoyable without a washed out image. I am very happy to keep using it as my screen (other than perhaps getting a bigger version), there are however some issues to consider which may make it unsuitable for you:

- Unlike a normal flat matt surface this material is very directional. With a very small angle e.g. if the image is being projected right over your shoulder or just over your head you get a very bright image but with hot spotting. A bit more angle between you and the projector and you get a good bright image. If the angle is too great then the image will be less bright than a normal light coloured surface BUT as long as it's not too dim it can still look better due to the enhanced blacks in my opinion (as I prefer that to brighter but washed-out images.) You need to consider vertical as well as horizontal position i.e. if the projector is mounted too high up then no-one will get a bright image.

- The advert says "Viewing Angle is about 30-40°. The best viewing angle is about 0 - 20°." probably about right but I haven't measured any angles.

- It's apparently not suitable for ultra short throw projectors (presumably due to the above.)

- The directional nature is highlighted by the fact that there is a bright halo of light sent directly back to your projector which appears on and around it. No reason to think that it would cause a problem but worth considering if over time this could cause damage (e.g. yellowing of the casing or something.)

- The screen reflects any light from a similar angle to your viewing position back at you. Although it handles a reasonable level of ambient light reflecting off the wall behind me, when I move to sit in front of closed curtains (which don't have blackout linings) on a sunny day with light filtering through them the image is fairly washed out. Although this is also from a larger viewing angle where the image isn't as bright either.

- I've had to mask the other source of ambient light, so that it only sends light out of the sides, as it is the main living room light and is directly overhead, longer term solution is to use other sources of ambient light, masked or positioned more effectively.

- I've tried various ways of temporarily mounting it but none of them have produced a completely flat screen, I assume you really need to stretch this out over a board or frame. I've been using masking tape on the backing so as not to damage it, until I decide how to mount it properly, but it doesn't stick forever, after some time the screen always manages to peel itself off the tape.

- It comes folded so you will need to get the creases out, apparently you can iron it but I've read warnings to be very careful and set the iron on a cool setting to not damage it. I haven't tried ironing but using a steam cleaner whilst hanging the sheet seems to have worked pretty well, it isn't perfect but then I haven't stretched it onto a frame yet. Hopefully the remaining sags and creases would be stretched out and hopefully the material is resistant to further sagging over time once mounted.

- My girlfriend doesn't like seeing the screen when the projector is off as the weird reflective effect makes her eyes go funny! Might be due to the creases etc and not be as much of a problem when it's completely flat.

In conclusion if you want to watch with ambient light and get a decent image this is well worth considering but you must be able to control viewing angles away from the projector (vertical as well as horizontal), light coming from the same angles to the viewers (windows behind, wall lights, lights overhead/in front etc) and you must be willing to do the work in mounting it and take the risk that you can't get the creases out or that it might not be durable (might sag etc.) You might also need a new girlfriend :) (just kidding!)
 

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