Ambient Light Rejection Screens

Evan Powell, March 3, 2016

Image Texture/Grain Artifacts

Most ALR screens introduce some degree of visible texture into the image that does not come from the projector. Typically it looks like the fine grain in a photograph taken on high ISO film, or the noise in a digital photograph taken at a high ISO setting. It has a visible effect not unlike the screendoor effect on low resolution projectors. Quite often this grainy texture is not noticeable in scenes where the camera is not panning, but it becomes visible in a scene where the camera pans across a sky, or white clouds, or the surface of a polished red Ferrari -- essentially, any element in the picture with no texture in itself that would mask the artifact. Since this texture artifact is stationary the camera panning makes it visible by making it appear as if the image is moving behind an almost invisible veil.

The ALR screens in this review vary in their tendency to impart these grainy texture artifacts. They can be grouped as follows:

1. No texture. The Da-Lite Parallax 0.8 and the DNP Supernova show no visible texture at all. As a result, these two screens have the greatest clarity, producing pictures that are as clean as if they were being displayed on conventional high resolution home theater screens.

2. Almost no texture. The Elite EPV DarkStar 9 and EPV PolarStar stand in a class by themselves. Unlike the Da-lite and DNP, they do manifest some subtle grain on occasion, but it is noticeably less so than any of the remaining products in the review.

3. Modest visible texture. Most of the ALR screens fall into this category. These include the following:

  • Elite DarkStar
  • Microlite Black Crystal 1.2
  • Screen Innovations Slate 1.2
  • Screen Innovations Black Diamond 1.4
  • Seymour Matinee Black
  • Stewart Firehawk G4.

On all of these screens you will typically see some texture and graininess in panning scenes. On occasion there will also be slightly visible texture in stationary subject matter that has no texture in itself, such as a bright blue empty sky. Within this subset of screens there is no practical reason to rank them as better or worse than one another since they are all similar in terms of texture artifacts.

4. Moderate visible texture. The Draper TecVision MS1000X has some attractive advantages, but low visible texture is not one of them. Within this group of eleven products, it stands out as having more noticeable graininess than the others.




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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