Most ALR screens introduce some degree of visible texture into the image that does not come from the projector. Typically it looks like the fine grain in a photograph taken on high ISO film, or the noise in a digital photograph taken at a high ISO setting. It has a visible effect not unlike the screendoor effect on low resolution projectors. Quite often this grainy texture is not noticeable in scenes where the camera is not panning, but it becomes visible in a scene where the camera pans across a sky, or white clouds, or the surface of a polished red Ferrari -- essentially, any element in the picture with no texture in itself that would mask the artifact. Since this texture artifact is stationary the camera panning makes it visible by making it appear as if the image is moving behind an almost invisible veil.
The ALR screens in this review vary in their tendency to impart these grainy texture artifacts. They can be grouped as follows:
1. No texture. The Da-Lite Parallax 0.8 and the DNP Supernova show no visible texture at all. As a result, these two screens have the greatest clarity, producing pictures that are as clean as if they were being displayed on conventional high resolution home theater screens.
2. Almost no texture. The Elite EPV DarkStar 9 and EPV PolarStar stand in a class by themselves. Unlike the Da-lite and DNP, they do manifest some subtle grain on occasion, but it is noticeably less so than any of the remaining products in the review.
3. Modest visible texture. Most of the ALR screens fall into this category. These include the following:
- Elite DarkStar
- Microlite Black Crystal 1.2
- Screen Innovations Slate 1.2
- Screen Innovations Black Diamond 1.4
- Seymour Matinee Black
- Stewart Firehawk G4.
On all of these screens you will typically see some texture and graininess in panning scenes. On occasion there will also be slightly visible texture in stationary subject matter that has no texture in itself, such as a bright blue empty sky. Within this subset of screens there is no practical reason to rank them as better or worse than one another since they are all similar in terms of texture artifacts.
4. Moderate visible texture. The Draper TecVision MS1000X has some attractive advantages, but low visible texture is not one of them. Within this group of eleven products, it stands out as having more noticeable graininess than the others.