Ambient Light Rejection Screens

Evan Powell, March 3, 2016

Elite Prime Vision DarkStar 9

The EPV DarkStar 9 is one of three screens in this review that offer a maximally wide viewing angle, the others being the Da-Lite Parallax and the DNP Supernova. For all practical purposes you can view any of these screens from any angle without serious degradation of the image.

So what are the differences between them? First, the DarkStar 9 offers a contrast advantage against the Da-lite and DNP. In the first contrast test with side light only, the DarkStar 9 registered 20:1 compared to 17:1 for the Da-lite and 16:1 for the DNP. That difference in contrast is certainly visible. But beyond that, the DarkStar 9's advantage in contrast grew when the ceiling floods were turned on -- in that test the DarkStar9 didn't lose much contrast at all, reading 17:1 by holding an excellent black level (second only to the SI Black Diamond in this test). Meanwhile the Da-lite and DNP both fell to 12:1. So if you want the highest contrast of the super-wide viewing angle screens, the DarkStar9 should be on your short list.

The second difference is that the DarkStar9 manifests an extremely low level of texture artifacts. It is not perfectly free of artifacts as the Da-lite and DNP are, but it shows noticeably less texture than any of the other screens in this review. As far as trade-offs go, our guess is that most viewers would accept the occasional minor texture in order to gain the contrast advantage of the DarkStar 9.

In terms of vertical half angles, the DarkStar9, the Da-lite and DNP all measured a rather restrictive 18 degrees -- not the worst in this review, but not far from it. So, no difference between the three in this regard. Similarly, these three screens are the least bright among the nine when viewed at center position, which is the typical price you pay for maximum wide angle performance.

In short, the Elite EPV DarkStar 9 is definitely competitive in its niche, with the key advantage being the best contrast performance in high ambient light of all the ALR screens that offer maximally wide viewing angles.

Review Contents: Overview Contrast Half Gain Angles Black Levels
  Peak Gain Texture Artifacts Color Bias DaLite Parallax
  DNP Supernova Draper MS1000X Elite DarkStar Elite EPV DarkStar9
  Elite EPV PolarStar Microlite Black Crystal SI Black Diamond SI Zero Edge Slate
  Seymour Matinee Black Stewart FireHawk G4

Reader Comments(10 comments)

Posted Jul 27, 2017 3:45 AM

By Lee

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Is there a conclusion anywhere in the article? Great article, but would be great with a short summary section!

Posted May 11, 2016 11:04 AM

By Tuki

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It would be nice to include the high gain Vutec SilverStar 6.0. Thank you.

Posted Apr 9, 2016 12:18 PM

By Scott Tallal

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Hi Evan,

This review has been incredibly useful! We only wish you would have included at least a few of the high gain options, most notably the dnp SuperNova 23-23 and the Screen Innovations Black Diamond 2.7. Perhaps you can do a shootout between those and other high-gain options in the not-too-distant future?

Keep up the great work!

Posted Mar 31, 2016 8:09 PM

By Jason

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I'd also like to see the Elite Cinegray 5D does in the tests.

Posted Mar 17, 2016 4:22 AM

By Mishari

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I wish you added 2 points: - contrast measure at all lights off to see they have better contrast than white screen. Some of us do not want to have dark walls and ceilings. - Add Elite Cinegrey 5D, which is highly available to public and well reviewed.

Posted Mar 16, 2016 8:14 PM

By Tomas

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Hmm, how come here is missing Black Pearl HDR from SimPit? Unrestricted viewing angle, exceptional black levels and color ... and one of most affordable ALR screens as well

Posted Mar 13, 2016 8:04 PM

By Rob Hunt

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Excellent review, very detailed. However, i think it would benefit readers to have a large television also tested along side these screens, since that is the screens biggest rival. some 75 inch tv around the same price as a screen/pj setup. Then viewers could understand the magnitude of the benefits and drawbacks of a ALR setup.

Posted Mar 6, 2016 7:04 AM

By Hector

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Excellent review. I wished I was there while you were doing the reviews :) I have been looking for unbiased review on ALRsa d you have exceeded my expectations. Thanks again!

Posted Mar 4, 2016 5:12 PM

By Paul B

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What a great review of multiple ALR screens. I can't thank you enough as I am completing a basement remodel and have been searching for ALR screen reviews and challenged by the limited information, as well as critical details about how the products were tested. Having all of the listed screens objectively evaluated under the same standards is invaluable in assessing how the screens might work in my environment. Thank you for recognizing the critical need for this area of review. This is, by far, the best and most complete review of ALR screens. Keep up the great work!

Posted Mar 4, 2016 2:59 PM

By Matt Frazer

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Thank you so much for posting this extensive review of ALR screens, I have never seen anyone undertake this task and you should be comended for the effort. I currently use a Carl's place DIY ALR screen that I bought on a whim to replace my painted wall (following the projector central instructions when it was painted). I noticed a signifigant improvement in my tightly packed dedicated theater since the room is under 10 feet wide and I get light polution reflecting from the walls. It would be interesting to get this screen added since it is so cheap, to see if it can hang with these other options... Although after this whale of a test I wouldn't blame you if you never want to see another ALR again. Keep up the great work, it's reviews like these that keep me coming back.

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