For my screen I ended up with a DaLite High Power. I am running an 87″ wide by 49″ tall 16:9 screen; this translates to a 100″ diagonal image. My screen is mounted on a permanent frame that I constructed myself. The DaLite High Power is a great fit for me. The DaLite High Power is a retroreflective screen which means that the light that hits the screen is bounced back to the source of the light; since my projector is floor mounted this means the light comes back to my eyes. If you want to learn more about screens and their properties please read my screen guide.
The DaLite High Power has a gain of 2.8; this is considered pretty high. Some CRT purists wouldn’t use anything above a gain of 1.3 because they aren’t willing to live with the drawbacks. I was willing to live with the narrower viewing cone and the slight color shift in trade-off for a very bright image and the retroreflective properties that the High Power gives me. The DaLite High Power is also fairly inexpensive as far as screens go. When it came time for me to get the screen, I did a lot of homework and I was just going to buy the raw screen material and build my own frame. After shopping around I found that it was actually cheaper to buy a DaLite Model B pull down screen than it was to buy the raw material, so that is exactly what I did. I bought a 52″ x 92″ Model B from AV Science, they had the best price and they are a pleasure to work with. Give Jason Turk a call over there and he will hook you up. When the screen arrived at my house I promptly ripped out the material from the pull down housing and installed it on my own frame. I made my frame out of two by fours and, using my trusty staple gun, stapled the screen material to the frame. You may have noticed that the screen I bought is bigger than the screen size that I mentioned I am actually running. I did this intentionally; my room isn’t big enough to fit a 52″X92″ screen. The extra surface of the screen is either behind the border that runs around my screen or it’s wrapped around the back.
I have been very happy with my DaLite High Power and as long as my projector is floor mounted I have no intention of changing it. Once I get myself a new house and can mount the projector up on the ceiling I will get myself a different screen. But as it is now I am very happy with the DaLite.
I have also built myself a masking system for my screen; this is a great and very inexpensive addition for any home theater. My masking system masks my screen down for 2.35 movies; here is how I did it. I bought some very thin plywood and some aluminum stock at my local Home Depot and some black felt and industrial strength Velcro from my local fabric store. I cut the plywood down to the correct size, covered one side with black felt and attached the Velcro to the back. My wood was slightly bowed so I bought some aluminum stock from Home Depot and glued it to the back to keep it from bowing. This works okay; it still bows to some extent but not enough to be bothersome. I have also placed four nails on the screen frame, one near each corner, to aid in placement of the masks. When I play a 2.35 movie I just take my masking and rest it on the nails so I know everything is lined up and then stick it to the Velcro, takes maybe 15 seconds. The masking helps tremendously. It just makes it look like your screen is the size of the movie and really makes it look as if the screen is hanging in the air, very cool.
The images on the left below is the screen without the masking on, the one on the right has the masking on.
One last thing and then I will wrap this up. My first screen was a DIY blackout cloth screen; while it worked great and was very cheap to build, after using it for about six months, I really started to notice its flaws. Once I got myself a “real” screen I couldn’t believe the difference. Buying an actual screen is worth the money. If you blow all your money on the projector in the beginning a blackout cloth screen or similar DIY screen works good for a temporary screen, but I would definitely make it a high priority to get yourself a better one somewhere down the road.
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