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Ambient Light Rejection Screens

Evan Powell, March 3, 2016

Screen Innovations Zero Edge Slate 1.2

In our ambient light conditions the SI Zero Edge Slate 1.2 ties with the Elite DarkStar as the two brightest screens of the eleven in this group. This is unexpected due to its gain rating of 1.2. With a luminance reading of 146 fL it is also slightly brighter than the 1.4 gain Black Diamond, which measured 142.

In the first contrast test with side illuminating window light only, the Slate turned in a solid contrast reading of 29:1, almost tied with the Black Diamond at 30:1. So both of these Screen Innovations products ended up in the top 3 in their ability to defeat ambient light from the side. However, once the ceiling floods were turned on, the Black Diamond was able to hold its contrast more effectively than the Slate. In this second test the Black Diamond registered 21:1, almost tied for first place, while the Slate delivered 16:1, a reading that was middle of the pack in a total range between 11:1 and 22:1.

The reason for the Slate's drop in contrast when overhead ambient light was introduced was its inability to hold black as effectively as the Black Diamond. The Slate measured a black luminance of 7.9 fL (the second worst of the eleven) compared to the Black Diamond's first place reading of 5.4.

The Zero Edge Slate also gave us the second narrowest viewing angle of the eleven, at 46 degrees. Only the Seymour's extremely tight 32 degree viewing angle was more restricted. This means that as you move away from the center viewing position the Slate will lose its luminance and uniformity fairly rapidly in comparison to most of its competitors. However, when viewed at center position it tied for first as the brightest image.

The Slate's vertical half angle of 26 degrees was better than most, allowing a bit more latitude in the vertical placement of the projector vis a vis the audience.

In terms of texture and graininess, the Slate matched the Black Diamond and several others in the "modest texture" category.

Our test sample of the Zero Edge Slate came fully assembled with a back LED-lighting system. Its extremely thin edge frame and back lighting is certainly a great visual effect that will appeal to many buyers and it may be a good reason to opt for the Zero Edge Slate over competing products. However, since most vendors offer a variety of fixed and retractable mounting options and LED back-lighting systems can be acquired independently, we are limiting this review to issues pertaining to each screen's actual image performance characteristics rather than the mounting and presentation options.

In this evaluation the Zero Edge Slate performed at its best when viewed at or close to the zero degree viewing axis in situations where directional ambient light comes from the side rather than above. If this describes your anticipated viewing situation, we'd make sure to get a quote on the Slate, configured as you'd want it. However, the Slate is not quite as versatile as the SI Black Diamond which in our testing defeats ambient light from above more successfully. The Black Diamond also has a marginally wider viewing angle than the Slate, and will likely be the more accommodating solution for many random ambient light situations.

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SI Black Diamond
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Seymour Matinee Black
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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