Upgrading your TV to a projector is definitely the biggest step towards that real cinema experience. While choosing the right projector is crucial, getting the right screen is just as important.
My Top Picks for Home Theater Projector Screens
After plenty of research and testing, I’ve come up with my top picks for projector screens. Here they are (click the links to check prices on Amazon):
- Best fixed frame projector screen: STR-169120 Silver Ticket
- Best motorized screen: Elite Screens Spectrum
- Best manual pull down screen: Elite Screens Manual Series
- Best screen material for DIY: Carl’s Blackout Cloth
Best Fixed Frame Projector Screen: STR-169120 Silver Ticket
This fixed frame projector screen from Silver Ticket comes in at a whopping 120”, which is a fair size for a home theater. It has great picture quality and is a great place to start if you’re upgrading to a projector.
What I liked about the STR-169120
The most important thing about this projector screen is of course the picture quality. It’s designed for 4K Ultra HD video, which is the standard you should expect from this kind of investment. After all, you want to get plenty of use out of such an item, and 4K is now here to stay.
Similarly, the screen provides 1.1 gain, which means the image comes back around 10% brighter than what’s given out by your projector. This is a helpful feature in a home theater, where it’s likely you’ll need all the extra brightness you can get. It’s particularly useful in rooms with more ambient light.
The screen also has an incredible 160-degree viewing angle and 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning you’ll be able to sit almost anywhere and have no issues with the picture. This is another big help in home theaters, as you might not always be able to sit directly in front of the screen.
In terms of actual appearance, the screen is pretty good. It has a 2.5” aluminum frame that’s wrapped in black velvet, meaning it’s both secure and won’t affect picture quality. Considering this screen is easy to assemble and has great picture, this is definitely worth the investment.
What I didn’t like about the STR-169120
There’s really not much bad to say about this screen. The only minor issue is that, being fixed screen; it’s always going to be there.
However, considering this is the fixed screen category, that doesn’t matter much. Consider looking for a pull down screen if you don’t want it on display all the time.
Cheaper Alternative for Fixed Frame Screens
If you’re looking for a fixed screen but don’t want to break the bank, then the Elite Screens Sable Frame B2 (check prices on Amazon) is for you. Granted, it’s not as stellar as the STR, but it’s definitely still good value for money.
What I liked about the Elite Screens Sable Frame B2
First off, this screen is the same size and aspect ratio as the STR, making it a comparable contender. Similarly, it’s capable of 4K Ultra HD picture quality, making it a future proof bit of kit. Considering the much lower price tag, this makes it an attractive investment.
Much like the STR, this screen provides a gain of 1.1, so it’ll produce a brighter image than what’s projected at it. Also, it has a wider viewing angle than the STR, coming in at 180 degrees! While 20 degrees might not sound much, it’s enough to make a difference in many situations.
The Elite Screens Sable B2 is incredibly easy to set up and comes with all the necessary bits of kit to do so. It’s got a 2.7” aluminum frame covered in black velvet, which helps minimize image overshoot and creates a crisp picture for that ultimate cinema experience.
The screen itself is made from quality projector screen material that’s backed with black PVC for image sharpness and clarity. Overall, this is a really good fixed projector screen, particularly if your budget can’t stretch to the more expensive model.
What I didn’t like about the Elite Screens Sable Frame B2
On its own, this is a good screen, but when compared to the STR, the difference in price is noticeable. The STR gives off a better picture, and that’s not to say that the Sable is bad, it’s just not as good. However, if you’re on a budget, this is ideal for making the jump from TV to projector.
Best Motorized Screen: Elite Screens Spectrum
A motorized screen offers plenty of obvious benefits over a fixed frame screen, but also comes with some disadvantages. That said, this offering from Elite Screens is a pretty good all-rounder that won’t break anyone’s bank.
What I liked about the Elite Screens Spectrum
This motorized screen comes boxed with a remote control and wall switch, which gives you two options for operation and means you don’t even have to get up to pull the screen down! While this might seem lazy, it’s a benefit you’ll definitely be thankful for.
The screen is 100” with a 16:9 aspect ratio, although the company do produce it in larger sizes. Realistically, 100” is the smallest screen you should go for, and it’s worth looking to go bigger if you can fit it in your home theater.
It also provides a gain of 1.1 and has a viewing angle of 160 degrees, which make it comparable to the fixed projector screens mentioned above. The obvious advantage to a motorized screen is that you can simply put it away again once you’re done watching, which makes the room seem much less cluttered, particularly if you’re short on space.
This motorized screen is still capable of 4K Ultra HD images, so you’re not losing any quality by switching to motorized. It has black borders and a white screen that’s really easy to keep clean. As far as motorized screens go, this is a pretty good one.
What I didn’t like about the Elite Screens Spectrum
My biggest issue with this model is the white screen. Granted, this is just personal preference, but I find the images shown on a white screen don’t have anywhere near as much contrast as on a gray one. However, this will help in a dark room, but beware if you have problems with ambient light.
Best Manual Pull Down Screen: Elite Screens Manual Series
Pull down projector screens are your typical projector screen. While they might seem like the basic choice, don’t discount them because they’re a convenient and cost-effective option.
What I liked about the Elite Screens Manual Series
Elite Screens Manual Series, specifically the M100XWHis a strong contender for an entry-level projector screen. It’s exactly what it says: a pull down projector screen with an image size of 100”. Again, this is the minimum size you want, but the manufacturer does make bigger ones.
Manual screens are obviously really easy to operate; all you need to do is pull the cord and your screen is set up. Having the option to hide it away once done is probably a big advantage for most home theater users, as it allows you to get more into a smaller space, and not have to have the screen open when not in use.
The screen has a 16:9 aspect ratio and is capable of 4K Ultra HD picture quality. It has a 180-degree viewing angle, meaning everyone will get a clear view of the screen. What’s more, it has a fully blacked out, textured surface that produces crisp images with minimal interference.
Even better is that this screen is 3D capable, and while the technology has died out a bit, some are staunch advocates of 3D. If you’re one of them, you’re in luck.
This screen has an auto-lock feature, meaning it won’t jump back up when pulled down, and is mildew resistant and easy to keep clean. Overall, this is a great place to start if you just want an easy to use projector screen.
What I didn’t like about the Elite Screens Manual Series
One major disadvantage to any pull down screen is the potential of damaging the screen material. While this isn’t specific to the Elite model, I did notice the potential for waves to form in the fabric, which will obviously impact your image quality. However, for the money, this is a good screen for a home theater.
Cheaper Alternative for Manual Pull Down Screens
If you want to make the jump from TV to projector but really don’t have the budget to support it, then the Best Choice Pull Down Screen (check price on Amazon) is a good choice for you. The cheapest one on this list, it’s the most attractive price-point, with minimal loss of quality.
What I liked about the Best Choice Screen
This screen measures 119”, making it bigger than the Elite, and still boasts 1.1 gain for crisp and clear pictures. Its surface is matte white, meaning it has few problems with light reflection, and it has a black border to help contain the image.
The screen is easily mounted on a wall or ceiling, and can be set up in minutes. One of my favorite features of this screen is simply its convenience. While none of the others are a big problem, this one was unbox and go. If you’re not one who enjoys spending time setting up their new toys, then this will be a big help to you.
This projector screen is made with longevity in mind, and comes with a sturdy case to protect it when not in use. Similarly, the material is stain resistant and anti-static, so it should hold up for a good while. It’s got an auto lock system, so won’t go bouncing back up when you least expect it.
What I didn’t like about the Best Choice Screen
We’ll address this straight away: this screen isn’t 4K capable. This obviously puts it at an automatic disadvantage when compared to the others on this list, but it won’t put everyone off buying this screen.
It can still deliver HD video, which is still the level most are viewing at, and its low price makes upgrading in the future less of a problem. However, if you’re looking for an investment, then this might not be the one for you.
Best Screen Material for DIY: Carl’s Blackout Cloth
Sometimes, having full flexibility over your project is just what you need. If you’re looking for a projector screen, but want a DIY option, then this cloth is for you.
What I liked about Carl’s Blackout Cloth
This material is exactly the same as what most projector screens are made from, so you’re losing very little by opting for the material instead of a built screen. This is a more budget friendly option, and gives you complete control over how big the screen is. For some, this is the most obvious advantage.
It has blackout fabric fitted behind the screen to help create a crisp picture. The screen itself is matte white, so is good for darker rooms, but it only has a gain of 1.0. I say that as if it’s a deal breaker, and it’s not, but do bear this in mind if you have problems with ambient light, or a darker projector. That 0.1 of gain can make a difference.
The manufacturer recommends that this material be used specifically with tension-mounted frames, so you’ll end up with a fixed screen of some kind. This isn’t a problem at all because I find fixed screen to be a better choice anyway. If you’re looking to build your own screen from scratch, this cloth is a good place to start.
What I didn’t like about Carl’s Blackout Cloth
While this isn’t a criticism of the product, the biggest thing I found is that it’s actually quite hard to build your own projector screen. It’s not a complicated process, but getting all the creases out of the material is a particular challenge.
Carl’s give you instructions, but they might not be the most helpful, so make sure you do plenty of research on building a screen. However, the material itself is very stretchy, so once I had a good system it was free of creases pretty quickly.
Thanks for reading! Check out all my recommendations for home theater equipment.