The Best Projector Screen-what you must know

The best portable projector screen for most people is the $200 Silver Ticket 100″, which I found out after spending 90 hours building (and painting) screens, watching content, measuring image quality, and comparing them side by side. The Silver Ticket is easy to assemble and available in a variety of sizes, and has a surface that is relatively neutral. There are screens that are better, or cheaper, but none match the Silver Ticket in that perfect balance of better and cheaper. For people who need a screen for their projector, the Silver Ticket will do a fantastic job. In fact, measuring it against my own $2,700 screen made me wish I’d gotten the Silver Ticket instead.

If you’re OK with a do-it-yourself portable projector screen and want an even better image, the $300 Goo Systems GooToob tops the Silver Ticket in performance. (In fact, this solution measured the best objective performance overall, regardless of price, though it was a small enough margin compared with our premium pick that they’re effectively the same.) Whites are more accurate without any tint, and the image has a slightly smoother feel to it. It’s a small difference, but one that I can see without extra equipment if the two are side by side. It’s harder to set up and more expensive, but it looks wonderful.

If you want the best image and don’t want to go the DIY route, nothing beats the Stewart StudioTek 130 screen. It’s expensive ($2,415!), but it also outperforms everything else we tested. Even next to our top pick, it offers a noticeable edge in image pop, along with more robust construction and more accurate images. It is definitely the best, but it’s closer to 50% better than the 1,200% better the price would indicate.

If you have a projector, you should get a screen. Most portable projector screen are bright enough to throw a decent image on just about any close-enough-to-white surface, but if you’re still using a white-painted wall, you really should upgrade. A screen has less texture and will show more accurate colors, plus add pop to the image, since paint almost always has less gain than a screen (meaning the image will appear dimmer than is ideal).

But if you ask a home theater expert or aficionado what to choose, more often than not, they’ll recommend something that costs more than the projector itself. Our pick is aimed more at someone looking to put together a casual home theater on a budget or just wanting to upgrade from a living room wall. A good screen can last a long time, so it’s worth investing enough money to get something that’s easy to set up and offers decent performance.

For most people, it’s not worth paying significantly more than a few hundred dollars since you’d need a high-end, properly calibrated projector to be able to perceive any noticeable performance gains. But if you have those things and want to get the most out of your setup, our premium pick has long been an industry standard and offers better performance than anything cheaper.

Regardless of how much you spend, know that portable projector screen technology is not some fast-moving tech sector like smartphones or tablets. The screen you buy today will likely last through multiple projectors before needing replacement. For example, our best overall performer, the StudioTek 130, has been made for more than a decade with various incremental upgrades. Many professional reviewers have used the StudioTek 130 since the age of CRT projectors, and it still holds up today.

If you already have a projection screen that isn’t made of blackout cloth1 and uses a real screen material, you’re probably OK and don’t need to go out and buy a screen. But if you want to go larger, as the latest projectors are bright enough to support larger images, it’s worth considering a new screen.

Leave a Reply