How to buy a screen

Evan Powell, March 16, 2000

If you're buying a projector, odds are you'll need a screen too. Here's the short course on how to find the best screen for you.

First, there are a number of screen manufacturers; however, for the purposes of this article we will reference four of them: Da-lite Screen Company, Draper, Inc., Stewart Filmscreen, and VUTEC, Inc. Clicking on their names will take you to each of their respective websites. But don't do that until you read the rest of this article!

Each of these companies offers a variety of screen fabrics and mounting options. One combination of screen and mount will be just right for your particular need. To identify the perfect screen solution, just follow these steps:

Step One: Select a mount type

By checking out each of the websites of the four manufacturers above, you can get a good idea of the options for mounts that they offer. There are several types. Fixed frame mounts will hold a screen rigid and in a particular position. The frame can be mounted on a wall, or placed on stands so that the entire assembly can be moved around. Fixed frame mounts can be a practical solution if you don't mind having the screen set up and deployed for use all the time.

In addition to fixed frame options, each of the vendors has retractable "roll up" screen mounts that can be bolted to a wall near the ceiling, to the ceiling itself, or even embedded in the ceiling. Motorized retractable screens ("electric screens") can be raised and lowered at the push of a button. Manual retractable screen mounts are typically spring tension driven. They are less expensive, and can be lowered and raised by hand.

The advantage of retractable screen mounts, of course, is that the screen can be made to disappear when not in use. If the room is a dedicated theater room, this may not be necessary. But if it is a multi-purpose room, having the ability to get rid of the screen when not in use is valuable.

If you want to get a bit more exotic, you can get screens with automatic masking systems that allow you to adjust the viewing area of the screen based on the video material you are projecting. You can watch regular television in 4:3 format, then close down the black masking elements to change your screen into a widescreen format for a movie.

After you finish reading this article, click over to each vendors' website, study the mounts they offer, and find a mounting system that makes the most sense for you.

Review Contents: Screen Mounting Screen Selection Care and Considerations More on Aspect Ratio