Screen advice please...


Standard Member
I'm in the market for my first screen. Need the following:

Manual pulldown
Actual picture width (not diagonal width) 200cm
Ceiling mounted
Budget: £400 Max

In a Dark Room using a PT-AE100. (Been using a wall up until now).

Been looking around but unusually for me where this sort of thing is concerned I really haven't a clue what I'm looking for.

Has anyone got any tips recomendations etc...?


Standard Member
Hope you don't mind a long reply.

I haven't bought a projector yet, but will do in January so then I'll have the same problem as yourself of finding a screen.

Firstly I'd like to comment that not many people seem to post about their screen - they like to tell you how great their new pj is eg with no screen door, excellent brightness, great contrast ratio, natural colors etc, etc, but how often do you see a thread about the latest, greatest, eagerly anticipated screen?

I think I've a fair idea about the advantages and disadvantages of the latest pj's, and read a fair few user reviews and discussions. I've at least narrowed it down to one of the following: Sony HS10, the Sanyo Z1, the Panny AE300, the Infocus X1 and NEC HT1000 and I have enough info to make a decision eventually. But I still don't have a blinking clue about which is the best screen.

However, I've been sleuthing around and I'll tell you what I've found.

The first thing you need to think about is the screen gain. This is how much brighter the reflected picture is to the viewer compared to watching a completely diffuse matte white screen.

Your wall will likely have a gain of less than 1 (maybe much less due to absorbsion and poor reflection) whereas a Matte White screen will usually have a gain of around 0.9 to 1.1. Anything much less than one and it means you're losing precious brightness from your expensive pj.

For example why spend more dosh on a 1000 ansi lumen projector instead of 700 when you have a screen gain of 0.7?

I've heard if you want to convince someone to buy a screen instead of using the wall, get them to try using a shiny white divider for a clip folder. This isn't even designed for projection but as it has a gain of about 1 it apparantly makes the wall look very poor.

If your pj has less than average brightness or if you have inadequate light control then you may want a larger gain of say 1.3 to 1.5. You may wonder how they can reflect more light than is projected but the simple answer is that instead of letting the light reflect in a natural diffuse way, it focuses more of it back at the viewer (in the centre) and less is reflected out wide. So this is at the expense of maximum viewing angle and they do this with materals like glass beads.

So the greater the gain the more centrally you have to watch the movie. This is really noticible on rear projectors which have high screen gains so that they can be watched in daylight. Try watching one standing up and you'll see a much reduced brightness.

I've read that really high screen gains - say 2.5 are really for presentations in fair ambient light, as the color and contrast will probably be affected. Not a problem for a power point presentation but you don't want real people looking like the Simpsons...

Higher gain usually means higher price.

The next thing to think about is whether you want a white or grey screen. Obviously a grey screen will give blacker blacks and better contrast and so they are also called high contrast screens. In fact Da-Lite call their one a High Contrast Matte White (HCMW) which is strange given that it's grey.

Grey screens would obviously normally reflect less light (some would have to be absorbed for the grey color) so their gain is boosted again at the expense of view angle to bring them back up to about 1.1.

After reading about them, I think these are likely give the best picture for lcd pj's, but they are probably expensive (one of the hardest things about buying a screen is trying to find out the price - it's seems to be some kind of secret) - you're 400 quid may get you the recently released Da-Lite one though.

There is a lot of other stuff to consider some of which are irrelavent for you eg aspect ratio, electrical/pulldown/fixed/tabbed etc.

The one's I'd be temped to buy are:

Draper Luma - £273 for a 92" diagonal Matte white 1.1 gain, 16:9 pull down screen found here .

Projecta Pro manual (Datalux S) - £275 for 117cm x 200cm gain of ~2 found here . (Or the matte white gain of ~1 for £185)

Da Lite Model C - $342 (I can't find it in britain right at this minute) for 114cm x 203cm, Matte white, 1.1 gain and can be found here.

Like I said they also have a new high contrast grey screen but I can't find a price.

The Rolls Royce of screens seems to be Stewart with their Grayhawk and Firehawk screens reckoned to be the best by the professional reviewers. I can't find any prices but think it might be a case of "if you have to ask, you can't afford it"...

I don't know if any of these is actually any good but they're in the right price band and so I'll be looking out for reviews on them before I buy.

Anyone got any of these and care to comment?

I also have to mention that many people on the forum make their own fixed screen from blackout material for about 30 quid with a gain of about 0.9.

I am no expert as I'm still learning so if anyone wants to correct anything I've said, please do.

Cheers Callum.


Yep -

currently got a Panasonic PTAE100 with a Draper Luma 106" Manual Pull Down Screen In Matt. Cost 300 in matt but I beleive its the same price in glass beaded.

Very pleased with the reults in deed - cannot really fault it for the money - seem to see a lot more detail and brighter than the wall - havn't seen a glass beaded one.

Gordon @ Convergent AV

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Hi: You can find an article about how to choose a screen on my website or even on this site......I wrote it for this site!

Grey screens have their problems as well as their good points. They shift colour as they are not grey they are off grey. Some are around .85 gain and others are 1.2 gain. The higher gain ones look, to me, like a 1.5 or 2.00 gain screen painted grey. This means that black levels are low but the angle of viewing is the same as that associated with a high gain screen (ie narrow). It also means they hot spot and colour shift of axis. At least one UK distributor has stopped selling grey screen material due to the problems they had with them.

Grey screens tend to be much more expensive.

The Draper Luma units are nice affordable functioning pulldown screens. I would not use a glassbead version with a fixed pixel projector for home cinema use.

P.S. I can supply screens...even says so on my banner add on this site.



pps Stewart screens are fantastic and as they say in the Stella add. Re-assuringly expensive


Well-known Member
Indeed the Draper Luma are an OK screen for the price. I have one but they tend to ripple. Realy need some form of tensioning to get the ripples out. I had thought about putting a couple of eyelets either site and using light springs.


Standard Member
Thanks for all the responses people. These forums really are superb for getting advice.

petrolhead the ripple effect is something I'm particularly concerned about although I did read in a post a bit further down of someone using pipe brackets to hold the screen tight. Looked like a good idea.

How easy are these thing to install on a ceiling. I guess you want it dead level and screwed into the joists (I assume they're fairly heavy)?

Gordon I'm off to read your article.


Well-known Member
Mine is on the wall but could be hung from the ceiling. Yes you will neeto to identify where the joists are as it is fairly heavy

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