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Ambient Light Rejection Screens

Evan Powell, March 3, 2016

Da-Lite Parallax 0.8

The Da-lite Parallax 0.8 stood out as outstanding in this group in two particulars -- clarity of the image, and extremely wide viewing angle. Unlike most other ALR screens, the Parallax 0.8 shows absolutely no visible texture or shimmer. As far as image clarity is concerned, nothing beats it. It is tied with the DNP Supernova and surpasses all others.

Similarly, the viewing angle of 170 degrees is extremely wide. It is tied with the DNP Supernova and the EPV DarkStar9 on this attribute, but surpasses all others. The Parallax 0.8 is an excellent choice for any application in which you need to have the image highly visible across a wide viewing space.

At 0.8 gain, the Parallax is among the least bright of the eleven, but only when viewed from the center position. If you need a bright picture when viewed from the center you will need to use a brighter projector than you'd need with some of the higher gain competition. However, as you move away from the center viewing position, the Parallax will be brighter and more uniform than most of its competitors due to its extreme half gain angle. If you want the best of both worlds, a very bright picture at the center as well as from all angles, use the Parallax with a high lumen projector.

The most notable limitation of the Parallax 0.8 is that, in our side illumination test, it came in lower in contrast and color saturation compared to most of its competitors when viewed from the center. In any given ambient light situation with any given projector, black levels are not as deep and color saturation is not as rich as it would be on most other ALR screens in this review. This is another attribute that the Parallax 0.8 shares in common with the DNP Supernova. These two screens show almost identical properties in ambient light rejection, both from the side and from the top. They look extremely similar in black levels and saturation.

So the Parallax offers a trade-off -- it gives you the benefits of zero texture artifacts, a very clean picture, and an extremely wide viewing angle, in exchange for lower contrast and saturation at center axis. Having said that, it is important to keep in mind that in relatively low ambient light environments, you may be able to offset the contrast and saturation limitations on the Parallax by using a very high contrast projector, thereby ending up with the best overall solution for your particular needs. The Epson Home Cinema 1440 that we used as a source projector for these tests is bright but not as high in contrast as conventional home theater projectors. It works fine with ALR screens that have a better ability to amplify contrast in ambient light, but on the Parallax the picture looks comparatively flat. Choosing a higher contrast projector with this screen will help neutralize the problem as long as ambient light is minimized.

The Da-Lite Parallax comes in a fixed frame option only -- not motorized retractable or zero edge styles are available. The frame and screen are relatively easy to assemble, and the end product is light weight and easy to handle for mounting.

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Color Bias
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DNP Supernova
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
Comments (12) Post a Comment
Matt Frazer Posted Mar 4, 2016 2:59 PM PST
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.
Paul B Posted Mar 4, 2016 5:12 PM PST
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!
Hector Posted Mar 6, 2016 7:04 AM PST
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!
Rob Hunt Posted Mar 13, 2016 8:04 PM PST
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.
Tomas Posted Mar 16, 2016 8:14 PM PST
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
Mishari Posted Mar 17, 2016 4:22 AM PST
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.
Jason Posted Mar 31, 2016 8:09 PM PST
I'd also like to see the Elite Cinegray 5D does in the tests.
Scott Tallal Posted Apr 9, 2016 12:18 PM PST
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!
Tuki Posted May 11, 2016 11:04 AM PST
It would be nice to include the high gain Vutec SilverStar 6.0. Thank you.
Lee Posted Jul 27, 2017 3:45 AM PST
Is there a conclusion anywhere in the article? Great article, but would be great with a short summary section!
Brian Posted Feb 22, 2019 7:27 AM PST
Time for an update with the latest and greatest ALR screens, and maybe some that are AT?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Feb 22, 2019 7:59 AM PST
Brian, we are about to embark on a new series of screen reviews and will be doing these regularly. Much focus will be on ALR, but I like the idea of tackling a survey of acoustically transparent materials at some point.

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