Screen vs Wall: The True Value of Projector Screens

By the time you’ve put in the time, effort and money of buying a decent projector, it can be ask if it’s really worth going through all the research and making the extra spend to buy a projector screen as well. After all – a screen is a flat, white background – how different can it be from simply shining your projector onto the bare wall?

We take a very different view. Depending on who you talk to in the (admittedly rather small) world of projector experts, projecting straight onto the wall can be anything from ‘probably unadvisable’ to ‘a cardinal projection sin’. We lean more towards the latter – and here’s why.

Texture

The problem with your blank wall is it isn’t as flat as it looks. Run your hands along it if you’re in any doubt – it’s almost certainly filled with bumps, crevices and imperfections.

Each one of those bumps will cause a tiny shadow on the surface of your picture, which when multiplied across the whole wall can significantly reduce how bright and crisp the final image is.

On a low quality image, this isn’t enough to make a major difference, but high resolution projectors are more accessible than ever so if you’ve invested in a decent projector – and particularly in a 4K projector – then those tiny little bumps in the wall are going to reduce the return you’re getting on your investment.

Specialised projector screens are tensioned in order to create the smoothest possible surface. This means less visual noise on the surface, which in turn means a sharper focus giving you the opportunity to unlock your projector’s full potential.

Light & Colour

Even if you somehow managed to magically make your wall as flat as a projector screen, it still wouldn’t be all that good at directing and focusing the light from your projector back into your eyes. Put simply, the paint on your wall (however dazzlingly white it may be) is just not designed to respond to and reflect bright, focused light from projectors which has a massive impact on the image consistency and colour.

For obvious reasons, a white wall is not designed to cancel-out abstract and natural light – whereas a projector screen is specifically designed to achieve this thanks to its special coating. Using a projector screen is the only reliable way to ensure that the image is as defined as it can possibly be, with minimum outside interference from natural light.

Frame

This one is perhaps more to do with the viewer than the actual projector. Having a dedicated frame around your high quality picture increases the focus. It’s simple – if you put a frame around something, our brains are designed to hone in on it.

It gives us a fixed reference point, properly configured to the specifications of the projector. The border helps to focus our eye and contain the image, drawing attention away from any stray reflections and abstract light in the background.

We could talk about the technical specifications of a projector screen from a microscopic level all day, but there’s a clear bottom line here. If you’ve made an investment in a high quality projector, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the resolution, clarity and brightness that you’ve paid for and a projector screen will deliver this.

This doesn’t just apply to those who can afford the best technology and the latest 4K resolution (although seriously, don’t even think about buying a 4K projector without a 4K projector screen).

Even if you’re working on a budget, maximising the potential of a cost-effective projector can result in a better image than stretching your budget to a higher spec projector and then skimping on the projector screen.

Convinced? Take a look through our range of specially selected projector screens here or have a read of our guide to choosing a projector screen here.

1 Comment
  1. Such an odd article. There are paints available which have been given the sole aim of reflecting as many of those wonderfully projected photons into our retinas as possible, to such an extent (some claim), that the paint is more efficient than a screen. And anyone willing to spend a significant sum on AV kit is going to make sure any wall projected onto will be flat and void of any anomalies which might impact IQ.

    I guess it comes down to personal preference. I don’t want a 100″ + border on one of my walls all the while the projector is off, and I have been put off the idea of motorised screens based on reviews (probably worse than a wall with small bumps owing to the variable nature of the fabric’s surface and its tendency to move). But then if it really is a dedicated home theatre then perhaps borders would add to the overall effect.

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