Projection Screen Guide

To get the most from your projector it's important to pick the right size and type of projector screen. This quick guide provides answers to the most common questions, and we're on hand to help if you need any further advice.

Projecting onto a painted wall will usually result in washed out, unsatisfying colours. Projecting onto a standard whiteboard will usually produce glare and unwanted hotspots of reflection, spoiling the image. This is because the colouring and reflectivity of these surfaces is wrong for a projected image.

The matt white surface of a projection screen is carefully designed to get the best results from a projector. It reflects light at the best angle, absorbs light to the proper extent, and provides an excellent canvas for the representation of colour.

Projector screens are available in different proportions (aspect ratios) because different projector types cast differently proportioned images. We strongly recommended that your projector screen matches the native (default) aspect ratio of your projector.

1:1 Format (Square)
Screens suite overhead projectors and older slide projectors

4:3 Format (Video Standard)
Screens suit the majority of school & business projectors.

16:9 Format (Movie Widescreen)
Screens suit home cinema/entertainment projectors

16:10 Format (PC Widescreen)
Screens suit modern widescreen business & education projectors

If you do not match the screen to the projector you will be unable to properly fit the image into your screen area. A 4:3 image (standard video) on a 16:9 screen (movie widescreen) will leave large areas unused space on either side. Likewise, using a 16:9 image on a 4:3 screen will leave large areas of unused space at the top and bottom.

If you need guidance on this, please do get in touch.

Once you've chosen your screen format (aspect ratio) we suggest that you use the following rules to help select an appropriate size.

  • The distance from the screen to the front row should be at least 1.5 x the width of the screen.
  • The width of the screen should be at least 1/6th of the distance from the screen to the back row.
  • The screen should be fitted at least 30cm down from the ceiling.
  • The bottom of the screen image should be at least 90cm up from the floor.
  • When buying a roll down screen, remember to allow for the roll case size when measuring for installation.

Fixed Frame Screen
A rigid frame covered in screen fabric and surrounded with dark borders. Typically used in a home entertainment setting.

Floor Screen
A roll up fabric screen that pulls up from a floor cartridge, and then locked into position using a support strut. Manual pull-up floor screens are commonly used as mobile solutions.

Fold-Up Screen
A large fabric screen with a collapsible quick-assembly frame. A fold up screen can be stowed and transported with ease. Fold up screens are commonly used in outdoor and exhibition events.

In-Ceiling Roll Down Screen
An electric roll down screen designed to be concealed in a false ceiling recess. These screens require professional installation and are operated by remote control.

Roll Down Screen
A roll down fabric screen in a long cartridge, designed to be fitted to a wall or suspended from a ceiling. The bottom of the screen is weighted, relying on gravity to keep the screen flat. This is the most common type of screen. It is available in electric and manual pull down variations. Smaller screens are relatively easy to fit, while the larger electrically operated screens do generally require professional installation.

Tab-Tensioned Roll Down Screen
A electrically operated roll down fabric screen in a long cartridge. The sides of the fabric are tensioned with a wire web, ensuring a completely taut, flat surface. These screens are normally used in a home entertainment setting.

Tabletop Screen
A very small portable screen that can be placed on a desk or table for personal presentations. These screens are used for mobile display.

Tripod Screen
A pull down fabric screen housed in a cartridge which is held by a tripod mound. There screens are an affordable mobile solution.

A front projection screen has a reflective surface (usually matt white). The projector is situated in front of the screen (on the audience side) and casts its image directly onto the screen. Front projection is the most common method.

A rear projection screen has a translucent surface. The projector is situated behind the screen and casts a reversed image, such that it is correct when viewed from the audience side of the screen. Rear projection takes up a lot of space and can be tricky to set up, so it is much less common than front projection.

Gain is a measure of reflectivity, and is used to describe the fabric of a projector screen. A typical matt white screen has a gain of 1, and is the standard for almost all modern applications.

You may read about high gain and high contrast fabrics, such as grey and glass beaded screens. Such fabrics are rarely used outside of specialist applications, as the brightness and image quality of modern projectors makes them largely unnecessary

Front Projection

Front Projection Screen Illustration

Rear Projection

Front Projection Screen Illustration

Company Information

Choose-AV
31 Byron Road
Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom
RG10 0AE

Tel: 0843 461 0009
Fax: 01189 080787

Choose-AV is a trading name of
Dreamlauncher Limited

Company number 3967596. Registered in England and Wales

VAT Registration Number 727 4324 36

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