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Screen Innovations Black Diamond II
Ambient Light Rejection Projector Screen

Bill Livolsi, February 13, 2009
Review Contents

EDITOR'S NOTE: The review below pertains to the 2009 version of Screen Innovations' Black Diamond screen material, which is no longer available for purchase. The Black Diamond screen currently available is a different product and this review does not reflect on its performance.

Editor's Note: The Black Diamond II comes in two forms - the 0.8 gain material reviewed below and a 1.4 gain material which we have not yet reviewed. As the two screens are certain to perform differently, our Highly Rated award only applies to the 0.8 gain version. -bl

Ambient light rejection screens, or "black" screens, are a relatively new invention in projector screen technology. They have helped to expand the market for home theater projectors by allowing them to be used in brighter environments. Screen Innovations' new Black Diamond II is the latest offering in the world of black screens.

The Black Diamond II combines some of the best features of black screens we've seen in the past - namely Planar's Xscreen and the Nexy BSB. It has the Xscreen's excellent light repelling ability and the Nexy screen's light weight and flexibility. It also has advantages all its own - instead of the rigid, heavy frame of the Xscreen and the complete lack of frame on the Nexy BSB, the Black Diamond II has a lightweight aluminum frame clad in black velvet, like traditional fabric screens. That makes for easy shipping, mounting, and assembly. It will begin selling through Screen Innovations' dealer network on March 1. A 100" 16:9 Black Diamond II will retail for $2,699.


Ambient Light Rejection. The Black Diamond, like other black screens, is built to combat ambient room lighting. This works by rejecting any light that hits the screen from an oblique angle, preventing it from washing out the image on the screen. For the most part, the only light which makes it back to the viewers is the light from the projector.

We tested it under an overhead light, as well as lights on in the back of the room. In these situations, the Black Diamond looks much higher in contrast and richer in color saturation than a conventional white or gray home theater screen. The picture in ambient light is remarkably vibrant.

Blacker blacks. Projectors, by their nature, cannot project black. The black you see on screen is the absence of projected light, which appears black only in comparison to brighter areas of the screen. The Black Diamond's dark, charcoal gray surface enhances the appearance of black, and can help correct for light spillover from other parts of the image. The end result is a picture with blacker blacks.

Smooth HD surface. Screen Innovations calls the Black Diamond II an "HD" screen. Like the recently reviewed Da-lite JKP Affinity, it has a perfectly smooth screen surface. As we discussed in that review, a smooth screen surface is ideal for 1080p projectors, as it ensures that no detail loss occurs due to screen texture.

Easy shipping. This does not seem like much of an advantage until you have had to wrestle a hundred-plus-pound rigid screen, plus external packaging, through your doorway. The Black Diamond II rolls up like a regular fabric screen, and is shipped like a regular fabric screen as well - in a long rectangular box. This makes it much easier to transport, ship, store, and maneuver, which is a welcome benefit for the do-it-yourselfer.

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Review Contents: Advantages Limitations Conclusion

Reader Comments(15 comments)

Posted Feb 14, 2009 4:48 AM PST

By Doug Horton

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In my light-controlled media room, I'm using a 106" 16:9 Draper pull-down screen, for which I paid $149 three years ago from Dell. With its limitations on viewing angle and delicate setup issue, the $2550 (18x) more expensive Black Diamond seems significantly overpriced and will appeal to a very small (and rich) group of buyers!

Posted Feb 14, 2009 11:05 AM PST

By Al Sherwood

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Regarding Doug's commment about the cost versus audience for such a screen:

True is is expensive, but no more so then My SMX-HD AT screen but then again depending where you intend to have or should I say 'need to have' your projector, this may the only type of screen that will allow a reasonble picture to be obtained. Inexpensive screens like your Draper do very well in a light controlled media room but could never be deemed suitable for a regular living space... I think that this solution would be great in a regular livingroom.

BTW, I wouldn't consider myself to be rich, just willing to pay a little more in the persuit of my hobby! ;-)

Posted Feb 16, 2009 9:01 AM PST

By Cory Potts

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I recently demo'd this screen here in Austin TX next to SIs normal low gain white screen. If you have tons of uncontrollable daylight or florescent lighting its the way to go. If you can controll you lighting, even moderately, or have canned/directional lighting then a white screen with a little gain is the way to go as this screen looks dim. Also, pick a high lumen pj (over 1000 measured lumens) or one that has a very bright daylight mode (Epson's come to mind) as you'll need the extra horsepower. Most importantly, put forth the effort to view this screen before you buy as its not for everyone.

Posted Feb 19, 2009 3:01 PM PST

By Natja-SS-1334

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These screens have far too many limitations. For one thing $2550 price tag is rediculous. Even if it had no limitation in it's viewing axis it shouldn;t be worth anything near that price. Maybe $250 tops. I personally gave my optpma Graywolf II away because it had reflective properties that narrowed the viewing exis where the sweet spot was literally 3' either left or right from the position of the projector. The viewing exis of the graywolf is much wider than of this screen. So in order to see the best image you would need to have your head at the same level, and right next to the projector. The graywolf really helped enhance contrast, color saturation and blacks, but it's viewing axis limitations were totally not acceptable to me. The $110 I paid for it were well spent. I ended up painting over it with flat gray paint then gave it away to a friend. I wouldn't recommend this screen unless you plan to sit real far back from the screen and never more than 3' either left or right from the projector. And again the price is absolutely outragious.

Posted Feb 23, 2009 3:10 PM PST

By Tony

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Uh why even bother at that price point you should have a Stewart screen. Actually at any price point Buy a Stewart!!!!!

Posted Mar 12, 2009 3:30 AM PST

By Turkka Turunen

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It would be interesting to see how SI's product compare with Screenlux Quartz or Black Quartz screens. On paper SL seems to have a slight advantage, at least regarding the viewing angle.

Posted Apr 10, 2009 2:58 PM PST

By Mike Cunningham

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Hey guys, Just sold another 10k system with an Epson projector, black diamond screen, about 3K in audio, 1.5k in labor and cables. Just cause you don't have the money or see the value, doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of people who do. Everything isn't for everybody. Stop thinking everyone thinks like you do.

Posted Apr 11, 2009 11:02 AM PST

By shannon

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To see the screen in action from multiple viewing angles visit the website. www.siscreens.com

Posted Apr 12, 2009 2:24 PM PST

By Doniz

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I just "love" it how these pedestrian, simpleton screens can cost more than the projector itself. Wow!

Amazing that with the litany of negatives identified, PJ Central still gave the SI Black Diamond its highest ***** rating. Makes one wonder how truly wretched a screen has got to be to get only 4 stars out of five... let alone even fewer than that.

Posted Apr 26, 2009 2:13 PM PST

By Alan Ard

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A couple comments. The price of the screen reviewed is not the price of the screen quoted in the article. The article refers to the 100 inch 1.4 gain model ($2699) while the model reviewed is the .08 gain model. The 0.8 gain is less expensive.

I've been unable to replicate the blue push or the light uniformity issue. To be fair I've only had the 1.4 gain model in my hands. I'm guessing the blue push is from the projector used.

My experiences are that there is currently no projector on the market from the major players that can create better contrast in any lighting condition or color saturation. Reflective light from a screen creates about .5 ambient foot candles in ambient light in a controlled lighting environment. That .5 ambient foot candle of light can and does interfere with picture quality. The Black Diamond series doesn't create reflective light from the screen.

Also getting a curved screen helps dramatically with the viewing angle. It also fools the brain into thinking the image is more three dimensional than normal screens. This is an expensive option though.

The differences in the 1.4 and 0.8 gain screens are remarkable. Projector Central should do us all a favor and review a 1.4 screen.

Posted May 13, 2009 5:38 AM PST

By Ryan Gustafson

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You will see the Black Diamond 1.4 review soon.

Best Regards,

Ryan Gustafson

Posted Aug 20, 2009 8:25 AM PST

By Jason

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I currently own 92" .8 version. I have large amounts of ambient light. I previously had a Elite Silverframe white 1.1 gain. BD is expensive yes, but I couldn't even watch a dark movie/scenes eg: Underworld, Batman, Star Wars during the day as the ambient light completely washed out the picture. This screen works!! My Elite screen is definitely brighter when the lights are off. I am currently running an Optoma DLP 1600 lumen projector and imo is not enough light. I will be stepping up to a higher lumen projector for. I had both samples the 1.4 and .8 material and chose the .8. If i had to do it again I would get the higher gain for a brighter more punchy picture. But a higher lumen higher contrast projector will produce the brighter image I am trying to achieve.

Overall being able to watch anything during the day time makes it worth while as I use my projector as my main living room tv. If your like me and want to use a projector in your living room and can't control the ambient light...you love the si screen!!!! just make sure you have a bright projector

Posted Mar 10, 2011 4:11 PM PST

By frank

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For any good or great front projector system, the screen is the most expensive because it is the most important piece for the picture. If you have an expensive audio receiver and are using a home theater in a box set of speakers, it doesn't sound better just because you purchased a more expensive, goody ladened receiver. The speaker is what reproduces the sound, therefore, the frequency response, cabinet, and drivers are most important. The same is true for front projection equipment. I have seen some really cheap, and garbage projectors that look amazing because somebody purchased an excellent screen.

Posted Aug 25, 2012 7:43 AM PST

By Carlos

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How do this grey screens compare vs goo silver high contrast paints or similar paints that claim they are focused on ambient light situations? Is there an important difference between this expensive black screens and the paint? I have searched many pages that compare specialized paint vs projectors but not ambient light situatuins for both screens vs paint.

Posted Jan 1, 2014 2:14 PM PST

By Dee

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How does the larger version of the SI screen perform in comparison to the 115 inch? And is this screen worth it for a designated home theater room where there is no ambient light at all? Thanks D

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