The new Microlite Black Crystal 1.2 has an extremely unique combination of advantages -- it is one of the brightest screens in the group and it has an extremely wide viewing angle of 140 degrees. That is hugely unexpected. There are only three screens that exceed the Microlite's viewing angle -- the Da-lite Parallax, the DNP Supernova, and the Elite EVP DarkStar 9. But the Microlite Black Crystal 1.2 is brighter than all of them by at least 40%. So for any given installation, if you need the Epson 1440's 2800 lumens to get the level of brightness you want on these competing screens, you could opt for a higher contrast 2000 lumen home theater projector and the Microlite Black Crystal to achieve the same image brightness.
This might actually make a real difference in many cases because the Black Crystal is a rather low contrast screen. In our first contrast with side illumination, it produced a contrast reading of 18:1, or almost the lowest in the group which ranged from 16:1 to 36:1. It also registered the worst black level in this test. Once the overhead ceiling floods were turned on, the Black Crystal's performance improved to about middle of the pack, giving us a 16:1 reading compared to the worst at 11:1 and the best at 22:1.
However, since contrast and black level are not the Black Crystal's strongest attributes, you may be able to take advantage of its latent brightness by matching it with a lower lumen, higher contrast projector home theater projector to offset the limitations in contrast and black level. There are practical limitations to this of course. You would not want to pursue this if ambient light conditions are high as the light will overcome the projector's contrast advantage. But with relatively low levels of ambient light, a high contrast projector matched with the Microlite Black Crystal will give you a bright picture with very pleasing contrast and an extremely wide viewing angle -- something no other screen in this review can deliver with quite the same effect.
In terms of texture artifacts, the Microlite falls into the average category, typical of most ALR screens. Texture is relatively minor with no camera panning, and it becomes more visible during camera panning sequences. But it is, on the whole, similar to the SI Black Diamond and Stewart Firehawk, so there is nothing unique to complain about here.
One note of caution is that the Black Crystal, while having one of the widest horizontal viewing angles in the group, also has the narrowest vertical half angle. So installation needs to be precise. Ideally, the projector will be placed behind the audience and projecting just above their heads so that the angle of incidence and angle of reflection are minimized.
The Microlite Black Crystal 1.2 is likely to be one of the less pricey ALR screen options once you get it configured as you want it. So if you need its combination of extreme viewing angle and brightness and you can match it with a high contrast projector, you may end up with the most cost effective solution for your particular needs.