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Screen Innovations Black Diamond II
1.4-gain Ambient Light Rejection Screen

Review Contents

EDITOR'S NOTE: The review below pertains to the 2009 version of Screen Innovations' Black Diamond screen material, which is no longer available for purchase. The Black Diamond screen currently available is a different product and this review does not reflect on its performance.

In February, we looked at Screen Innovations' Black Diamond II 0.8-gain ambient light screen shortly before it was released. Now, we're back in the lab with their 1.4-gain version of the same screen. This ambient light rejection (or "black") screen solves the brightness problem of the last model. It also expands the viewing angle, which frees up some of the restrictions and makes the screen easier to use. At $2699, it is priced like a high-end boutique product, but it delivers performance in line with its cost.


Ambient Light Rejection. The Black Diamond II incorporates technology that "rejects" ambient light. Any light which hits the screen from an oblique angle, such as that coming from above or off to one side, is not reflected back to the audience. During testing, very little ambient room light was reflected by the screen, though a light source to one side of the screen will cause more reflection than an overhead source. You will still want to avoid having a light source directly behind the projector, as the screen cannot differentiate between the projector's light and the room light and will reflect all of it towards your audience.

Higher contrast. In a home theater, several factors can contribute to loss of on-screen contrast, but the biggest one is ambient light. When ambient light hits a conventional screen, it washes out black levels and reduces contrast by significant amounts. By not reflecting a lot of the ambient light, the Black Diamond II should improve contrast. But can that difference be seen on the screen?

Our testing was performed in a setting representative of a DIY home theater; light control was good, but not perfect. Our basis for comparison was the Stewart Grayhawk RS, a highly-regarded top-tier home theater projector screen. Three different tests were performed - with all room lights off, with an overhead light turned on, and with a light at screen level, several feet away at a 45 degree angle. With the lights off, the Black Diamond II showed 40% higher contrast than the Grayhawk. However, when the lights came on, the Black Diamond II really started to show its stuff. Contrast dropped as expected on the Grayhawk, while the Black Diamond II held relatively steady. The result is that the Black Diamond II showed 70% higher contrast with either an overhead or oblique illumination source.

HD surface. As mentioned in the review of the 0.8-gain version, the Black Diamond II is an HD screen, which essentially means it has a very smooth surface that allows for the reflection of minute detail found in a high definition video image. Screens with a more noticeable surface texture can make an image appear less sharp and detailed. With the Black Diamond II you won't have to sacrifice picture detail to get ambient light performance.

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Review Contents: Advantages Limitations Screen Gain Differences
Comments (14) Post a Comment
dewayne Posted Jun 29, 2009 5:58 PM PST
How would you rate the 1.4 gain black diamond screen against the sterwart screen firehawk.
Stephen Hulsey Posted Jul 3, 2009 10:53 AM PST
The following paragraph from the review is not technically correct. Gain. The most obvious difference between the 0.8-gain screen and the 1.4-gain screen is, of course, gain. Gain is a measurement of the light reflected from a screen at a zero degree viewing angle. If you took a theoretical 100-lumen flashlight and pointed it at a perfect 1.0 gain screen from directly in front, the light reflected back at you would measure 100 lumens, while a 0.8 gain screen would reflect 80 lumens, and a 1.3 gain screen would measure 130 lumens. No screen can create light by reflecting back more lumens than from the source. What a screen can do is to direct reflected light from the source over a narrower viewing angle which creates the gain. This increases the ratio of foot lamberts reflecting off the screen to foot candles projected onto the screeen. Foot candles is equal to lumens per square foot. Foot lamberts is a measurement of brightness of reflected light from a surface and is equal to foot candles onto a surface with unity gain.

Stephen Hulsey
Karl C Posted Aug 4, 2009 4:17 AM PST
I have a Stewart Firehawk as I use it in a ambient room. It would be very interesting to know how the black Diamond stand up against the Firehawk.
Pat Johnson, UltraMedia Posted Aug 4, 2009 6:44 AM PST
We have installed a half dozen of these screens into clients homes as a replacement to the traditional white screens the clients already had. The words we heard the most was 'wow' and 'how can this screen do what it does?'. For us as installers/designers making adults as happy as a kid getting his 1st bicycle is very rewarding. We highly recommend this product.
Andrew C Posted Oct 20, 2009 8:10 AM PST
As Stephen H stated, your gain paragraph is incorrect. Gain of 1 is the amount of light reflected off of a block of magnesium carbonate. If a screen reflects more then it has gain > 1. If it reflects less then it has gain < 1. You're never going to get 130 lumens from a 100 lumen source.
Dave Gillies Posted Oct 25, 2009 1:54 AM PST
I think projector central should do a shoot out between Stewart's Firehawk G3 vs. SI's Black Diamond 1.4 screen. A lot of potential buyers really want to know how these two screens stack up against each other.
dave Gillies Posted Oct 26, 2009 1:22 AM PST
How about Projector Central doing a Shoot-out between the Stewart Firehawk G3 and the Black Diamond 1.4 screen. There are a lot of potential buyers that want to know which screen has better performance. And Projector Central has the resources to do the Shoot-out
Lynn Wiklund Posted Nov 5, 2009 7:23 AM PST
This screen brings new idea's to the home theater. Like aspect ratio,room lighting,and room use. It would save money on masking and light control and get us out of the need to be in a cave. When they put this in a motorized v. there sales will realy take off.
Greg Posted Dec 15, 2009 6:19 PM PST
DNP developed this technology, Try google They have a motorized version very cool, Dnp Supernova
Jay Posted Jan 18, 2010 3:56 PM PST
Sounds like the Black Diamond screens are legit! But, I'm still confused as to which gain I should select? If viewing angle isn't a concern, it would be nice to know which gain actually rejected the most ambient light. Any help here ProjectorCentral???
CM Reddy Posted Mar 3, 2010 6:43 AM PST
Its great to get screens like Black Diamond which are a class apart from the regular screens. It makes sense to compare against a regular screen to bring out the leap of advancements with the new screen technologies. To be fair to other screens, Black Diamond should be pitched against DNP Supernova which is in the same class as Black Diamond. Here we are talking apples to apples.

It would be a great service to many of us who wants to evaluate both screens before taking a dip.. Thank you in advance..
Peter G Posted Apr 6, 2010 6:51 PM PST
If I wanted to fill my 13 ft.wide by 8 ft. high wall with black diamond screen material would I not have to worry about any black bars no matter what format my panny 4000 was projecting?
Russel Posted May 1, 2011 7:19 AM PST
I have the 1.4 gain black diamond 80" screen Issues 1. I see a lot of the screen surface in light areas on the screen 2. At a angle other than 0 degree I see vertical dark lines

I amusing a EPSON TH 5800 projector in full light no curtains?

I suspect the installer did not use the bands to fix to frame?
Kathy P Posted Nov 20, 2011 8:06 AM PST
Has anyone compared the Stewart Firehawk, Supernova and Black Diamond? Ultimately, a comparison is what I need to make a purchase decision.

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