You might have the goal of making your own portable home theater. Besides all the year’s hottest blockbusters and a buttery box of popcorn, you’ll need a projector screen. Choosing the right projection screen with a decent screen surface to ensure a decent image quality for you may be difficult, but luckily, we’re here to help you out.
Here’s what you need to know before you buy anything:
Know how much you’re gonna use your screen.
Plan on moving your screen around a lot? Going to keep it in one place? Knowing how you’ll ultimately use your movie screen means knowing what kind of durability factors, longevity, and other conditions it should come with. Once you have that in mind, proceed onto…
Choosing the right frame.
Tripods, hanging, standing, a projector is nothing without its frame. But there are tons of different frames to choose from, so how do you know which one is the right frame you? Consider your options:
- A tripod. A tripod is a freestanding device with three legs, which can often be folded up and easily stored. This offers the best mobility, but some frames are made in such a way that the projector screen hangs awkwardly off of it. Still, tripod frames will probably be the cheapest and best option for someone who wants something simple to set up and maintain.
- Floor rising projector screens. They either come with electric or manual settings and are raised from a weighted base or case. They’re unobtrusive when stored and require almost no assembly out of the box.
Those are the most popular two portable projector frames. However, no matter what your needs are, we’re sure you can find the right frame for you with enough research.
Once you’ve got that down, move onto…
Understanding different projector screen fabric.
Different fabrics are designed to handle different environments. Because of this, the screens will perform better or worse depending on where you use them and what you use them for. For example, media resolution can look washed out or muddled on a screen with a grainy texture, although grainy-textured screens are usually made with a more durable material. Spandex materials will be easier to mount on your frame but will also tear easier. Keep the screen fabric in mind as you move forward.
Know Your Gains and Screen Angles
Gains means the light reflectivity of a fabric and viewing angle is how the viewer’s eyes face the screen. While there’s a lot of physics of how both interact with each other, just know that as gain increases, viewing angles decrease.
- Gains of 1.0 means the light directed at the screen will be reflected back at the same brightness.
- Gains less than 1.0 means that the fabric reflects a less bright image.
- Gains greater than 1.0 means that the screen fabric increases the media’s brightness.
Of course, ambient light in the screen’s environment affects the brightness of the projected image, but the overall reflectivity of the screen is something to take into consideration.
Viewing angle describes the max angle from the screen’s center from which you can still see a quality image. Some screens reflect light perpendicularly from a screen, sending less light to the sides. Screens like this appear much darker and distorted from the sides, forcing the viewer to sit in front of the screen’s center for best results.
Gains and angles might not be something you immediately think about when buying a screen, but they’re subtle factors that differentiate a good screen from a great screen.
Now the part you’ve all been waiting for: the top best screens to buy!
This is an awesome screen. You get standing or hanging versatility, as well as potential indoor/outdoor usage. You can freely transform the screen to a standing tripod base or hang it with simply one hook. No expert installation needed. Not only is the screen itself 100” of premium quality, but the screen itself offers 1.15 gains and a 160° Wide Viewing Angle. The JaelPLM screen comes with a carrying case and fits easily in car trunks for travel.
This TaoTronics product offers a great set-up-and-go projection screen. It provides a versatile viewing experience, whether you set it up at home, schools, offices, weddings, or outdoors for a movie screening. The stable tripod stabilizes the picture and fits neatly into the included carrying bag for simple transportation. The screen itself offers 1.1 Gain with 160° viewing angles so you get clear a projection that doesn’t require you to sit dead center for the best picture. Overall the TaoTronic is an efficient, cost-effective portable projection screen.
If high-quality and easy setup is what you want, look no further than this Vamvo portable projection screen. It takes less than three minutes to fully set up the entire assembly—screen and all—and is extremely stable once it’s done. You get rigid support that keeps the screen in place as if it were connected to a wall. The screen itself is 74.4” diagonally and has 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s the best bang for your buck and can be used everywhere, even indoors.
This cloud mountain is a bit different from the tripod systems we’ve seen previously and instead offers a floor rising frame. The scissor-back cross spring support provides a quick and easy pull-up operation, and the rotating feet stabilizes the risen screen. The case is fitted with black aluminum to protect the screen, and even has built-in carrying handles for convenient transportation. The screen has a 4:3 aspect ratio and has an impressive 100” diagonal measurement. Enjoy the 160° viewing angle and 1.3 Gain.
If you’re a cinephile and also love the outdoors, you’ll need a screen capable of handling what you throw at it. This portable Elite Screen measures in at a whopping 120” diagonally and provides 16:9 aspect ratio. The screen itself has a 1.1 Gain, offers 4K Ultra HD resolution, resists mildew and is easily cleaned with soap and water. Assemble it in seconds without any tools. Best of all, it can be staked into the ground with the included rigging cord, so you’ll be able to watch your favorite movie wherever you are.