Ambient Light Rejection Screens

Evan Powell, March 3, 2016

Seymour Matinee Black

The Seymour Matinee Black wins top honors for delivering the highest contrast measured in the Side Illumination tests -- a sparkling 36:1, handily beating the second place SI Black Diamond which measured 30:1. It achieved this by maintaining the deepest black levels in the group. And with excellent contrast and solid blacks comes excellent color saturation -- overall, the Seymour delivers an outstanding image produced by a very successful rejection of ambient light coming from the side.

And more good news ... the Matinee Black did not degrade much when the ceiling floods above the screen were turned on -- contrast dropped from 36:1 to 19:1, but under these terrible ambient light conditions it still ranked in the top three, being edged out just slightly by the Elite DarkStar at 22:1 and the Black Diamond at 21:1.

Moreover, it is among the brightest screens in the group, measuring 135 fL against a maximum of 146. So odds are reduced that you'd need to spend extra bucks for a brighter projector.

The Matinee Black shows modest texture artifacts, quite similar to the SI Black Diamond and the Stewart Firehawk. Though it does not have the pristine clarity of the Da-Lite Parallax or the DNP Supernova, it easily surpasses these competitors in contrast, black level and saturation. This helps the Matinee Black make up for the modest texture artifacts and produce the impression of a very clean, engaging image.

In terms of vertical half gain, it measured 23 degrees in our ambient light set up, which was about middle of the pack between a high of 40 and a low of 15. Thus it gives you a bit more room to negotiate the installation than some of its competitors.

The Matinee Black's only major weakness is a very narrow 32 degree viewing angle, which is by far the narrowest of the eleven in this group. Once you begin to move off axis, brightness uniformity degrades in a hurry. At a position just 16 degrees to the right or left, the picture's brightness has been cut in half, and the far side of the screen is half the brightness of the near side. So this is an excellent ALR screen as long as you can maintain a viewing position close to center axis.

The Seymour Matinee Black is available at very competitive prices, and it is light weight and easy to install. The bottom line is that if you can place the seats at or near the zero degree axis and your ambient light is coming from the side, it will outperform the other screens in this review. Even with ambient light from the ceiling it does an admirable job. But with a tiny 32 degree viewing angle it rapidly becomes a poor choice if your objective is to provide a good viewing experience from anywhere other than close to the zero degree viewing axis.

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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