Cheap Dave's Home Theater


What kind of screen to use?

If you have decided to use a projector you will soon have to consider what type of screen to use.

If you have a dedicated space I reccomend starting with just the wall. If you are building from scratch make sure to not texture the wall. Some basic white paint is all you need to start to display the picture.

If you have decided to use a projector you will soon have to consider what type of screen to use.

If you have a dedicated space I reccomend starting with just the wall. If you are building from scratch make sure to not texture the wall. Some basic white paint is all you need to start to display the picture.

Once you have lived with this for a while you can see how you like it. Is the picture bright enough? If not you may want to get a screen with a gain higher than one. Also try varying the picture size. With an LCD or DLP projector this is easily doen using the zoom lens. Most have at least a 1.2X lens and some have as high as 2.0X. That gives you a lot of screen size options.

The screen size will affect several factors such as brightness and resolution. If you have a lower resolution projector (800x600 or less) the pixels might become very noticeable at too large a size. My first projector was only 600x480 (VGA). I probably violated all the rules of thumb for screen size and with that low resolution you could really see the pixels. But surprisingly after a few minutes of watching a movie they would become less and less noticeable. So don't feel like you have to sit so far back or make the picture so small that you can't see any pixels.

You might try projecting a picture on freeze frame and then walk from the back of your room towards the front until you get to the point where you first really notice the pixels. Maybe have someone else do this with you as everybodies vision is a little different. Change the screen picture size and see how this point moves. If you can keep this point a little bit forward of you seating position then you should be fine.

So now that you have had you projector up and running and watched several movies you can answer these questions. Is a white wall good enough? Can I improve it enough with paint or Screen Goo to stay with a white wall? What size is large enough but still maintains good picture quality and brightness?

If this is a dedicated room and you decide you need a screen, then I recommend a fixed screen. (This is worth a fight with your wife.) Roll-down screens are notoriously un-flat, wave in the wind, and just are not classy. If she must, tell your wife she can fashion draw-curtains to cover the screen when it is not in use...just like in the old movie houses. If you buy a roll-up screen most of the money you will spend will go into trying to flatten out the screen. So a fixed screen is already flat and nothing really has to be done to keep it flat.

So with your projector in place measure the size you have decided is best for your room. (don't worry about any kind of formula or rule of thumb). Then you can buy the screen that fits your room. I would tend to push towards a larger picture since that is a huge part of the home theater effect.