The new Duet portable screen is a unique offering from Epson. Selling at $250 or less, it offers both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios without black bars, and stows quickly and efficiently in less than a minute. With both wall and tripod mounts included, the Duet is a great alternative to a full-frame screen that can collapse into a compact package when not in use.
The Duet, unlike most portable screens, deploys from side to side rather than from top to bottom like a standard pull-down screen. It has two click-stops - one for a 65" 4:3 screen, and one for an 80" 16:9 screen, for a very clean appearance in either aspect ratio without black bars.
The Duet includes both a tripod and a wall bracket, for home or portable use. When using the tripod, the screen can be set up in under a minute. The wall bracket requires slightly more forethought but offers a permanent or semi-permanent mounting solution.
The entire package can fold together to form its own carrying case. In this form, the tripod locks into the frame, and the carrying handle attached to the screen's frame makes transportation simple. The stowed screen is 43" long and less than 8" wide. However, it weighs nearly 27 pounds, so it isn't as light as some of the other portables available.
Even when the Duet is mounted to the wall, the screen can still retract into its casing. Since traditional theater screens tend to dominate the rooms they occupy, the Duet could be useful in establishing a low profile home theater in a room with multiple uses.
The Duet uses low gain screen material. Ambient light control is important for best results, but the screen has a very generous viewing angle. For larger audiences, or for a football party where people are standing in different areas, this is useful.
One disadvantage of the Duet over a fixed frame screen is that there is no support at the top of the screen. As such, the top edge of the screen can sag slightly in the center. While this is not a deal breaker by any means, it can be a minor annoyance.
The tripod sits with two legs forward and one leg back, and it needs nearly 30" of clearance from the wall when using the tripod. If you need to place the screen closer to the wall, you'll need to use the included wall bracket.
The Duet imparts a slightly blue cast to the projected image, due to the material and coating used on the screen. However, on most home theater projectors you can compensate for this by accessing the color controls and reducing blue a few notches or adding yellow to the projected image.
Since the Duet is so portable, it is an attractive option for outdoor projection at night. However, if you plan to use it in this manner, remember to account for wind conditions. A light breeze will give the screen some unstability, and if it is coming from the right direction it may cause the Duet to act like a ship's sail, knocking it to the ground and likely damaging your screen.
For less than $250, the Epson Duet gives you a highly portable screen that is ideal for either 4:3 or 16:9 projection, at the office or at home. It is easily stowed when not in use, and paired with a portable projector it can be part of a formidable portable theater. It is an excellent performer for its price, and a fantastic value.