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Elite Screens Aeon CLR UST Screen Review

Review Contents

Elite-AeonCLR_wDownLights

ELITE SCREENS AEON CLR ULTRA SHORT THROW SCREEN PROs

  • Innovative, multi-layer advanced optical filtering effectively absorbs 95% of overhead ambient light, preventing screen washout in lifestyle lighting conditions.
  • Provides highly accurate measured and observable performance.
  • Premium technology competitively priced with conventional projection screens.
  • Screen material compactly rolls into a small diameter for easy shipping and handling.

ELITE SCREENS AEON CLR ULTRA SHORT THROW SCREEN CONs

  • Not a complete panacea to all ambient light conditions.
  • Layered surface technology more prone to incidental damage than conventional screen materials.

OUR TAKE ON THE ELITE SCREENS AEON CLR ULTRA SHORT THROW

The Aeon CLR possesses all the required refinements for accurate image fidelity in the growing ultra short throw projection market, and does so at an exceptionally affordable price.


Garden Grove, CA-based Elite Screens maintains a presence in the global projection screen market with product design targeting cinema-quality performance at enthusiast-friendly pricing. On the other hand, Elite ProAV, their companion division for the commercial market, focuses on leading-edge engineering that's less tethered to cost constraints. But the company believes in sharing the wealth inter-divisionally, which has enabled their serriform optical filter surface lens microstructure technology to find its way down into the Aeon CLR (Ceiling Light Rejecting) series of screens designed for the growing segment of ultra short throw (UST) projectors.

UST projectors gained prominence as a consumer category nearly a dozen years ago almost exclusively in the Pacific Rim, where space limitations make traditional home theater projection a challenge. Here in the U.S., the most popular application for UST projectors these days is classroom and institutional use, though a number of 4K models geared specifically for the home theater segment have reached market or are expected to this year. Hisense, with its Laser TV series, has led the home UST charge, but LG recently joined the fray, and Optoma, ViewSonic, and start-up VAVA are all slated to release their own 4K UST entertainment centers this year that include on-board audio and internet streaming. Merely add a screen of 100- or 120-inches diagonal to these models, and you're good to go.

This is where ambient-light rejecting (ALR) UST screens come in. As with any two-piece projection arrangement, contending with ambient light is paramount, but especially so if you intend to use said projector as a replacement for your day-to-day TV. Ultra short throw doesn't necessarily present intrinsic issues with ambient light compared to a machine parked across the room—both fall prey to any stray lumens coming from a source other than the projector. However, there are different types of screens to manage each application.

A classic long-throw, ceiling-mounted projector relies on the screen to reflect light at an incident angle, much like the way a billiard ball banks off a table bumper in a direction opposite the angle of approach. But, that's not what you want for a UST projector/screen combination. With a UST projector resting on a counter, light rises vertically toward the screen at a steeply pronounced angle, but should ideally be sharply re-directed to the viewing position and not incidentally shower the ceiling. (I have also heard of installations where a UST projector has been ceiling mounted and the screen flipped to allow the image to be correctly steered at the viewing position. For this alternative application, care is required to ensure no overhead ambient light is present during viewing, as the screen can't distinguish between that and the intended projection light.)

Elite-Aeon-CLR-Diagram
The above diagram, and cross-section below, illustrate how the sawtooth-like optical structure of the StarBright CLR material absorbs overhead light into the screen but reflects UST light from below back to viewers.

Aeon-CLR-Serriform-Cross-section-400

Elite's Aeon CLR design positions microscopic optical filters to "steer" projected light in an optimal path aimed at the viewer, yet the positional "pitch" of these filters also thwarts light from above (when in the more common countertop placement) to keep it from washing out the image. Magical engineering of this sort requires quite a research facility. My yet to be answered question: Does the address contain the name Hogwarts?

Construction & Set Up

The Aeon CLR comes in 90-, 100-, and 120-inch diagonal sizes with a fixed, fine-bezel frame. Electric motorized versions utilizing the same StarBright CLR material are on the way in both standard wall/ceiling and floor-rising models. My 100-inch sample, with a street price of $1,249, arrived in a rather compact (compared to most other screens I've taken into my lab), Fed-Ex shippable box. The StarBright material is stiffer than traditional vinyl or woven screens but remains pliable enough in the 100-inch size to be rolled into a relatively small 4- to 5-inch diameter. As readers may know, some manufacturers' ALR screen materials are of a thickness and rigidity requiring them to be packaged and shipped fully assembled. Elite's rollable material eliminates the possibility that a pre-assembled screen may not navigate tight quarters en route to the destination wall.

The supplied instructions are sufficiently detailed, though it is strongly suggested to have a helper; four hands are more effective for the spring-tensioned assembly. Additionally, a video on the Elite Screens website illustrates the construction in precise, step-by-step fashion. Having assembled dozens of screens in my years, I took a deep breath and proceeded, undaunted.

All pieces and sub-components are safely and logically packed, and everything necessary to construct and affix the screen to a wall are included, even a rubber mallet and Phillips screwdriver. The sub-frame consists of solid, extruded aluminum that accepts joining brackets at each corner and at the center of the longer top and bottom two-piece spans. Screws hold everything in place.

Elite-AeonCLR-EpsonLS100
Undoctored photo of the Aeon CLR with an image from the Epson LS100 in natural light.

Once the sub-frame is assembled, the screen material is laid out with the reflective surface facing down, and the sub-frame is positioned equidistant from all four sides to begin the process of utilizing tensioning springs to affix screen to frame, in loop and grommet fashion. Elite provides two pairs of gloves plus a large section of fabric to place on the floor, enabling a clean environment on which to work while preventing damage to the delicate screen material. The screen is clearly marked to directionally identify the top, which is absolutely critical for correct performance. (In the event of a ceiling-mounted UST projector, the screen would obviously be flipped.) Although all screen materials should be treated gently whether off or on the wall, it should be noted that the microstructures in a screen like this are more sensitive than traditional materials to rough handling or anything that might scrape the surface, so care should be taken.

You attach the tensioning springs to the frame while using a supplied "hook-shaped" tool to pull and guide each spring to an associating grommet. Having a second pair of hands speeds the job and allows the screen to be pulled from opposite sides for easier centering in the frame, though I effectively managed it alone. Upon completion, the screen was taut, wrinkle free, and with the frame precisely centered within the material. When that process is finished, the sub-frame is covered with black, 0.5-inch bezel trim pieces, joined in similar fashion as the frame. This shrouds the screen's outer perimeter, with the resulting look akin to a large flat-panel television.

An LED backlight kit is included as a standard accessory. While carefully calibrated backlights are found in nearly every grading suite throughout Hollywood, practically speaking, projection screen-sized images coupled with consumer light output levels negate the need for a backlight, though it may provide a pleasing atmospheric effect. I chose not to install the backlight on my review sample.

Next Page
Performance, Conclusion
Review Contents: Introduction, Construction Performance, Conclusion Measurements
Comments (19) Post a Comment
Michael C. Posted Aug 29, 2019 2:50 AM PST
Something seems a little off on the brightness measurements. Based on the review, it looks like you had a 103” diagonal 16:9 screen. Using Projector Central’s throw calculator, the on screen brightness should have been 72- 88ftL. Even on the Matte white screen (assuming a gain of 1.0) you were only getting a maximum of approximately 45 FTL, with a maximum of 30ftL on the UST screen. Can you provide the settings used for the LS100, the measured Lumen output, and possibly a reason for the low light ftL seen in your measurements? The laser light source shouldn’t be that dim for thousands of hours. I am considering using the 120” Aeon CLR with the Optoma P1. This combo has a lower light output projector onto a larger screen, and my worries are that the brightness will not be sufficient even in a dark room. Based on my calculations, I would only get 55% of the values that you measured here. This would put my light from screen at the max point at 17ftL
Michael C. Posted Aug 29, 2019 3:07 AM PST
Added question. The LS100 has a throw ratio of 0.37 in telephoto mode, which puts it outside the recommended range of 0.3 Max for the CLR material. Can you provide any further info on the throw ratio you had in your setup?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Aug 29, 2019 3:10 AM PST
Michael, these measurements were taken with a fully calibrated projector for dark room viewing, which means that one of the less bright/more accurate modes was selected to begin with. Our calculator is based on the rated output of the projector in most cases. No one should expect to use the very brightest preset viewing mode for any projector as this is usually leaning too green or blue.
Jason Posted Aug 29, 2019 3:25 AM PST
$1250 is low cost? :/
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Aug 29, 2019 7:38 AM PST
Indeed it is for this type of screen, Jason. This is much more than a gray screen that boosts up the black at the expense of white brightness. A dedicated UST screen of this size withALR technology of this sophistication costs thousands of dollars from some competitors.
David Rivera Posted Aug 29, 2019 10:49 AM PST
Fantastic detailed analysis with highly applicable measured data, thank you Michael. I am indeed considering purchasing a new 4k laser UST projector (likely the OptomaX P1). Elite Screen's Aeon CLR Starbright was one of only two screens I had my eye on to pair with the UST projector. Your review just sealed my choice for the Screen. I'm now waiting on the upcoming September 15th scheduled release of the Optoma P1, and subsequent reviews by trusted sources to make my final decision on the UST projector. I am hopeful that Rob will request a sample from Optoma to be reviewed by one of Projector Central highly experienced contributors.

Thanks again Michael, and thank you Rob for your excellent leadership.
Michael C Posted Aug 29, 2019 2:09 PM PST
Robin, maybe it’s the engineer in me, but now I am totally confused. In my calculations, I used the Projector Central estimate based off of what I thought were optimized settings for the LS100. What are the Projector Central numbers if not that? Also, Tim Adams on July 10, 2019, in a paper on this site said that we should shoot for 30-60 ftL or higher in rooms with ambient light. Why would an evaluation of an ALR screen not be done using projector settings for ambient light conditions? If you have a fully dark room, you really don’t need an ALR screen (though in this case, it does seem to help with hot spotting).

Can you provide any more information about the calibrated LS100 projector’s output to help clarify things for me? Back calculating from the output measurements, I get less than 1000 lumens. That’s below anything that was measured in the review of the LS100.

My room has 100-300 lux of indirect light near the screen I currently have. Should I be concerned with sub-30 ftL calculated performance in those conditions (I am shooting for 40fLt based on based on what I get off of my current ES Cinegrey 3D ALR screen)?

Thanks much for any advice. I throughly read and appreciate all the articles posted here.
IPD Posted Aug 29, 2019 2:39 PM PST
Cost is what has turned me off of Screen Innovations, Da-Lite and HiSense. Last I checked, Silver Ticket, Aeon, Elite and Viewsonic all were missing a 110" offering for a UST ALR screen.

For the love of all that's holy, would one of you fine people do a review on XY UST screens--both the PET Grid and PET Crystal versions? Thanks!
Brian Gluck Posted Aug 30, 2019 5:13 AM PST
Jason, For an ALR screen that is designed to work specifically with UST projectors, this is in fact low cost. It's actually lower cost than most legit, traditional white 4K+ screens made for standard throw projection and much lower cost than 4k+ ALR surfaces. Elite Screens products are value value-centric and while this may not be the best performing (or built) UST ALR screen available, it is certainly has a strong value proposition.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Aug 30, 2019 7:58 AM PST
Thanks for you comments, David. We have a review pending now of the LG UST and will be most certainly looking at the P1, which has looked promising in the early show demos.
Ben Posted Sep 2, 2019 6:09 AM PST
I'll quote what 'IPD' said:

"For the love of all that's holy, would one of you fine people do a review on XY UST screens, both the PET Grid and PET Crystal versions?"

I second this, this is the brand all the people seeking out the UST branch is looking at, it's cost effective and offers all the customization you need for a screen.

I have contacted over 5 companies asking for a 2.39:1 UST screen and everyone says no except XY Screens.

We need to have this screen put to the tests, they are worth to have their products promoted, please put these screens side by side with other brands and let us all know how each and every screen perform.

PET Crystal comes in two versions, 0.8 and 0.95 gain, PET Grid is just one version.

The 0.8 offers better blacks and is their big seller.

Thsnk you for recognizing their products and making a review of them.

Rob, Sabin, will you consider this?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Sep 2, 2019 10:47 AM PST
Ben, I wasn't very familiar with XY Screens until recently, and while I appreciate that they appear to be an established and respected Chinese screen manufacturer who may be producing some high value screen materials, I stop short of putting our reviewing resources against products that do not appear to have an obvious and trustworthy distribution platform for the North American market. XY Screens website says they are an OEM (orignal equipment manufacturer) and ODM (original design manufacturer) for other brands, and it would not surprise me to learn that they supply product sold under names we do in fact review. But at this time, their screens do not seem to appear on Amazon U.S. and I've only been able to find any retail mechanism for their products via the Chinese e-tailer Alibaba. If they get picked up under their own name by an established retailer or distributor in the U.S., we'll consider investigating their products further.
Ben Posted Sep 2, 2019 11:51 AM PST
Rob, that's so sad to hear.

The world does not revolve around America, all countries contribute to what we can purchase as end-consumers on the market.

Given the fact that China is most likely the biggest producer here in our world, among with your statement and suspiciousness regarding their materials beinv sold by 3rd party resellers, I take your approach to this question rather half-willingly.

I'm from Sweden and my grammar is not impecable but I hope you can read between the lines and that my message comes across.

I think the best you can do for all of us but mostly your website, is to review the stuff we all buy and admire.

At the end of the day, no one will buy an American brand if another company can offer similiar performance for half the price from China.

Projectors alone brakes peoples banks with UST, right now the hot spot for screens is XY Screen, whether we like it or not.

Please reconsider, at least order a sample from them for USD $45 for starters, build some expectations and develop a feel around them, throw them an emaik and offer them a review, they would absolutely love that oppourtunity.

We all would.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Sep 2, 2019 1:27 PM PST
Ben, thank you for your comment. I appreciate that we have a worldwide audience and that our reviews and projector database and calculator tools are used around the globe, and I mean no disrespect to our foreign readers with such a policy. However, the vast majority of our audience are North America-based, and what you might deem as a consumer-unfriendly practice that denies readers access to reviews of a product you feel is of high quality and is of high demand elsewhere is actually the opposite, and is designed to both protect our readers and to help us make the best use of our limited reviewing time and financial resources. When we publish a positive review of a product the majority of our audience cannot simply go out and purchase from a reputable online or brick-and-mortar retailer, all we do is create excitement for something readers can't get (or can't get easily or without risk) and delay or eliminate a review of another readily available product that may also be valuable but which we no longer have the budget or time to get to. We perhaps even expose or encourage readers to purchase that product from less scrupulous channels, or those from whom a damaged or unsatisfactory product cannot be easily returned. It is for this reason that we also pass on reviewing some products while they are in their crowdfunding phase from companies that are encouraging folks to pay up front for products that don't yet exist, or are only being shipped in limited quantities to fulfill those upfront orders. It's not our job as a consumer-advocacy website to create demand for start-up companies to help them raise money for products that don't exist or can't yet be readily purchased.

XY Screens does not even appear to have their own direct-sales online store on their website for consumer purchases, much less availability of their products at Amazon, the world's leading online retailer. I never say never and will continue to learn what I can about the brand. But until such time that they have established a beachhead for distribution to the majority of our audience, it won't be of interest to us. I'll add that nothing is preventing you or any of our other readers anywhere in the world from pursuing the $45 kit you mentioned--if they can figure out where to buy it--and purchasing any of their screens on their own and without waiting for ProjectorCentral's stamp of approval. But allowing you to share your own obviously promotional comments with the rest of our audience is about as far as we are willing to go at this point.
Ben Posted Sep 2, 2019 5:46 PM PST
I don't know what to say to you, I think you're making this uneccessary complicated. To buy their products just contact them, they have a website like any other company, all companies cannot be like Amazon and offer 1-day shipping, Amazon run their staff to its knees. You are too much of a western, just because it's a China-based company does not make it a scam company. You sound like you never dared to buy anything from overseas, I can tell you that I have bought things from all over the world, Russia, Hong Kong, Korea, etc, never had a single issue. These companies based more remotely offer nothing but credit card or PayPal payment methods simply because they cannot meet your western bank policies or wire tranfers easily, there is a language barrier and the above mentioned payment methods are fast, easy and reliable. It's not like they can offer you an invoice to be paid after delivery, that's impossible outside any national border.

To tell you the truth, I've had far more trouble with products shipped from my own country, including Amazon, than products bought from where you otherwise seem to keep at a distance. I'm telling you, we're blinded by our own western world. There is nothing hard by performing an RMA process or file a complaint and have it corrected just because the company is overseas, they care about their company and reputation just as much as your average Joe selling bicycle inner tubes at the local corner.

Don't get me wrong, but you need to be more open-minded.

I thank you for explaining where you stand on this, I just had to tell my experience.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Sep 3, 2019 5:31 AM PST
Thank you for sharing your additional perspective on this, Ben. If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that, as the editor of this website, I seek out products to review from OEM companies that do not even appear to have invested in any sort of public consumer distribution mechanism at this time, invest our reviewing resources, and then tell our thousands of readers they should go chase the company with an email if they want to purchase that product and hope it works out okay? I understand that we have readers who must buy products directly from all over the world because they have limited access to many of the things we can buy readily here in the United States and Canada from a range of sources. But this is not about where a product originates, it is about how it is sold and supported. A little while ago we reviewed a popular XGMI projector purchased from an overseas supplier but fulfilled locally by Amazon, and when we did in fact have an issue with the first shipment attempt it was immediately handled with no fuss. If a company wants to sell products worldwide, they need worldwide distribution and customer/product support. My minimum is distribution and support for our home market in North America that we primarily serve. Please do not ask me to send our audience out into the wilderness to chase products from a company that does not appear to want to sell them to consumers under their own brand badly enough to even advertise themselves as a consumer supplier.
Paul D. Vail Posted Sep 3, 2019 12:44 PM PST
Michael H., I really wanted to get your thoughts on image uniformity, sparkling, and hot spotting. As well, if you have a standard UST capable screen you used the projector with after dark.

There seems to be quite a few people who think you must have a ALR UST screen to even use a UST projector. Obviously, that's not the case as many standard screens are rated for UST use. But, did you have specific observations or testing you did between the ALR screen and a standard white screen with the lights out? It would be interesting to hear if one was specifically better or worse in such a case.

Likewise, I have seen half a dozen standard ALR materials and every single one of them has exhibited hot-spotting, uneven image uniformity, as well as some sparkling. This is my top reason to YELL at people to avoid ALR screens and instead invest money on good shades. But, I have heard the ALR UST screens simply do a better job at this, and I haven't seen any of the lenticular ALR UST screens personally.

What are your thoughts on all of this? I'm going to be basing my future recommendations on your feedback on this, so I appreciate your detailed insight. Thanks!
Ronald Posted Sep 7, 2019 5:57 AM PST
XY Screens are cheap, that is what they have going for them and that is why people are interested; Even with this Elite CLR already being a fraction of the price of other ALR UST surfaces.

For inexpensive items, it's easier for someone to task the risk themselves to purchase and hopefully be happy. I'm more interested in reviews on premium products at a higher price point and with higher quality and performance. Where is the review on Screen Innovations' UST surface?

Perhaps you should launch another website, AlibabaProjectorCentral.com or BudgetProjectorCentral.com to appease all of your readers outside of North America, who do not contribute to your revenue stream by clicking on your advertisements and purchasing from vendors in your directory.
Michael P. Hamilton Posted Sep 7, 2019 4:01 PM PST
Greetings Paul, sorry this is a tad late...

I'm not quite clear as to what you mean by "a standard UST capable screen you used the projector with after dark." But if you're asking if I did dark room testing with anything other than the Elite Aeon that was the subject of the review, the only other screen I used was the reference (and I mean, Hollywood reference) matte screen mentioned that I tried briefly with the Epson LS100, only to see if the disparity in brightness uniformity the projector exhibited on the Elite Aeon CLR would similarly manifest on a screen known for complete neutrality. And, as such, it did. In fact, the Aeon CLR was highly uniform as well, when a reference-quality 3-chip DLP projector was aimed at it and measured.

I am not aware of (but haven't sought out information for) screens designed for long throw front projection being specified or given a nod for use with a UST projector. But the reference screen I tried was essentially unusable with the Epson UST projector, as far as high quality performance is concerned. For sure, it reproduced an image, but without acceptable uniformity and with hot-spotting and a great amount of the light collecting at the ceiling. Whether a different UST projector might have fared better I can't say.

As for your comment: "Likewise, I have seen half a dozen standard ALR materials and every single one of them has exhibited hot-spotting, uneven image uniformity, as well as some sparkling. This is my top reason to YELL at people to avoid ALR screens and instead invest money on good shades."...While no ALR screen will perform perfectly in an overly high ambient light environment - where shades would indeed contribute to a better result - you seem to suggest that even in the right environment such screens would not deliver faithful image fidelity. I cited one screen in the review I have had excellent results with, the Elite Prime Vision Dark Star 9. While it performed admirably in ambient lighting where a white screen would be greatly compromised, it was excellent in a dedicated theater with none of the characteristics you describe as demerits in the screens you have sampled. Another screen that I have reviewed elsewhere and actually own is from Seymour Screen Excellence, and is their Ambient- Visionaire Black 1.2 For many years while living in Arizona prior to moving to the Los Angeles area, I used this screen in one of my theaters with plenty of mountain view windows and never felt it to be anything short of a complete replacement for a flat panel LCD at any time of day, with ambient lighting reasonably controlled though not completely eliminated. And for critical viewing with lighting tightly controlled, it never exhibited the issues you cite in your comments. With ALR screens, adherence to the manufacturers' recommendations on projector placement and throw ratio is a must, as some of what you say you see can result from incorrect placement.

I had reviewed an ALR screen in the past I found to not deliver quite what the manufacturer promised, however, there may be specific applications where it could provide a solution that other screens cannot. So be clear that I am not saying all ALR screens are free from any of the characteristics you detailed. Those I've named are excellent when properly paired with quality projectors, especially lower-priced machines with less light output than their massive cousins, where the enhancement to black level ideally compliments solid performance.

You say you will be basing future recommendations on my feedback. One thing quickly learned here in Hollywood (where I work calibrating mastering studio displays) is that no two people see color, and in some instances light intensity, in the same way (please look up "metamarism"). My advice to anyone considering any display technology and system assembly is to attempt to personally experience every piece of gear so the expected anticipation of performance is met. Too often specifications and even reviews create an expectation that is seldom realized in the "real world". Even in some studios, large screens and insufficient projectors fail to meet required industry parameters, to much chagrin.

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