Ambient Light Rejection Screens

Bill Livolsi, August 5, 2015
Review Contents


EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been expanded and updated to include eleven current models of ALR screens. Please click here for the new review.) 3/03/16

Screen Innovations Zero Edge FLEX Slate 1.2
Screen Innovations was one of the first companies to create an ALR screen. Their Black Diamond series, which is still around today, remains their top of the line screen material for ambient light rejection. However, it is also quite expensive. As such, SI created the Slate materials as a more budget-friendly alternative to the Black Diamond that retains much of the latter's ALR technology. The SI Slate starts at $2,100 MSRP for an 80" diagonal screen.

Assembly

Our Screen Innovations Slate 1.2 screen came with the Zero Edge FLEX frame. While we would love to discuss the assembly process in order to compare apples to apples, Screen Innovations shipped us the screen fully assembled. Consumers can order the Slate pre-assembled, but you can also choose to have it shipped in a standard screen box if the assembled frame would be too large to maneuver into your viewing area. That wasn't a problem for us since we requested a small screen, but anyone aiming for 100" diagonal or above should definitely check their corner clearances and ceiling heights before deciding on a shipping method. There is no extra charge for having the screen sent pre-assembled.

The box did include the assembly instructions, which gave us a pretty good idea of what the process would have been like. Zero Edge FLEX is similar to the Elite eFinity in that it has a small bezel and wraps the screen material around the front of the frame. However, that's about where the similarities end. The Zero Edge FLEX screen uses snap posts in the frame to attach the fabric, similar to the system used by Stewart Filmscreen. The big advantage to this system is that a screen can be set up and taken down with relative ease, as there are no small parts to lose. The downside is that it can be a little rough on your thumbs if you aren't used to it.

Key Features

Natural image. The Slate 1.2 looked the least like an ALR screen during use. There was no visible sparkle, no oil slick effect, and no hot spotting whatsoever. In other words, it had a super-clean, theater-like image. If you're interested in a great picture and only need the screen's ALR capabilities some of the time, the Slate 1.2 is a great option.

Zero Edge frame. As with the eFinity, the Zero Edge FLEX maximizes viewing area for a given screen size. It also gives the screen a very TV-like appearance once it's up on the wall, especially if you have the LED light kit fired up.

Super-large screen sizes. Thought it is of less importance to the residential market, SI offers the Slate material in sizes up to 390" diagonal. That's over 30 feet. At these extreme sizes, the screen material will have seams, but SI reports that those seams are invisible to anyone standing over 20 feet away - a perfectly reasonable viewing distance for a screen that large.

LED light kit. Like the eFinity, the Zero Edge FLEX can mount an optional LED light kit. Ours came preinstalled, but whereas the eFinity mounts those lights using small spring clips, the Zero Edge FLEX uses adhesive to attach them directly to the frame. It also includes a dedicated mounting bracket on the back of the screen on which you can attach the power source and IR receiver for the light kit. It also includes a more comprehensive remote that allows you to set custom colors and patterns, if you wish. The LED kit, which costs $525, comes with the lights, the connection hardware, and the mounting bracket. If you order your screen pre-assembled and also order the LED kit, it will already be installed when you receive the screen.

Limitations

Limited distribution. Products in limited distribution are only sold through selected vendors. That's great if you live near one of those selected vendors and less great if you don't. On the upside, one of Screen Innovations' "selected vendors" is the Magnolia home theater division of Best Buy, so it's possible you'll be able to pick up one of these screens locally.

Review Contents: Overview Elite Prime Vision PolarStar Microlite F2 Screen Innovations Slate
  Shootout Summary

Reader Comments(6 comments)

Posted Oct 7, 2015 3:40 PM

By Dave

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I see you're adding more models, but what about some other low-cost alternatives like Silver Ticket readily available on Amazon where many reviews of users are pretty solid. I personally own their white screen and love it, but would be interested in seeing measured performance of Silver Ticket ALR screens against the similarly value-priced Elite ALR screens.

Also are you unable to reveal pricing information because of manufacturer agreements? Would be good to factor in performance against value.

Thanks, great work!

Posted Oct 7, 2015 5:47 AM

By Hector

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I would love to see how well the DNP and Stewart measure up. I need an ALR now, but it's hard to find a good unbiased analysis like this one. So far, I am leaning towards the Microlite but I prefer the edge free designs. The big frame is a dated design IMHO and doesn't go well with multi-purpose rooms.

Posted Sep 19, 2015 6:05 AM

By Nabil

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many suppliers claim amazing performances but at the end only experience prooves if that`s true or not. what do you think about Prodisplay`s sunscreen front projection?

Posted Sep 17, 2015 6:03 PM

By Nigel Talley

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It is the world's best

Posted Sep 17, 2015 4:32 PM

By Peter

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I use a screen innovations black diamond 1.4 in my darkened home theatre room. It is far better than any white screen I have ever used. Blacks are far better, contrast is far better and the biggest thing, no light bleed onto the walls of the room, so it is a real dark room and feels like a cinema! To say all ALRs are not for a darkened room I feel is incorrect. Slate wasn't around at the time I purchased my Black Diamond, but I have seen it in the same situation...still better than a white screen. Maybe not all ALRs are suited to a darkened room but them some are...

Posted Aug 15, 2015 11:18 AM

By Brandon

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Do the Microlite F 2.0 have to be shelf mounted, near eye level, for max gain, like the HP screens? Or can it be ceiling mounted to get close to its max gain of 1.8?

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