Phone: 800-431-2490   |

Projector Buying Guide


If you have never purchased a projector screen before, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the seemingly endless array of choices. We have designed our website to offer visitors the ability to choose from different projector screen categories - like Electric, Manual and Tripod to make your selection easier. Also, once inside a category, our site will offer you filters based on the application, price, format or screen sizes available. The below Projector Screen Buying Guide will help you understand the different types of screens, fabrics and formats available - in order to choose the right solution for your needs.

Call us toll-free at 1-800-431-2490 and we'll help guide you through the steps to making the correct purchase.


Electric or Motorized Projector Screens

Electric projector screens are operated by an electric motor that raises and lowers the screen via remote control or wall switch. Most Electric screens have a simple plug-and-play design, while others like a ceiling recessed screen, require significant installation and most likely the assistance of an electrician. Electric projector screens are often larger in size, therefore perfect for use in auditoriums, conference rooms, classrooms and in home theaters where a permanent fixture would not be ideal.

Manual Projector Screens

Manual projector screens operate just like a standard window shade, a manual projector screen is revealed by simply pulling the screen down by hand. Manual projector screens are much less expensive than Electric projector screens and are generally smaller in size, lighter, easier to use and install. Ideal for classrooms, conference rooms, simple home theaters and situations where a portable screen is necessary. Certain manual projector screens like Tripods, Floor Rising, Folding Frame and Tabletop screens are perfect for on-the-go presentations and can easily fold up for convenient transportation.

Tripod Projector Screens

Tripod projector screens are a portable solution to any projection need. Tripods use a pull-up screen, where the casing attaches to the free-standing tripod platform. Historically popular in schools, because of mobility, weight and relatively little expense - tripods are also widely used in business for traveling presentations. Once a tripod has been used, the screen can be folded up and stored in very little space. Most tripods have optional carrying bags available to make transport a little simpler.

Fixed Frame Projector Screens

Fixed Frame screens are among the most popular projector screens, especially for Home Theaters, Boardrooms, Auditoriums and in any situation where a permanent wall-mounted solution is required. Fixed Frame Projector screens generally require more assembly than other screens, however they are more easily wall-mounted, requiring less installation and no electrical connectivity. Fixed Frame screens are also designed with a Tensioned screen fabric, which creates the ideal flat projection surface and maximizes the resolution capabilities and light reflectivity of your projector. Some Fixed Frame screens feature a Curved Design, which adds a flare of style while wrapping the audience in full widescreen experience.

Ceiling Recessed Projector Screens

Ceiling Recessed Projector Screens are mostly Electric screens, where the screen casing is mounted within the ceiling, flush to the surface. This installation is rather complicated and generally done during the "rough in" stage of construction; usually requiring the assistance of a contractor and an electrician. Ceiling recessed screens are typically much more expensive than traditional Electric screens, because of the casing required for in-ceiling mounting. This type of installation is almost completely hidden from view and ideal for Boardrooms, Lecture Halls and Home Theaters.

Floor Rising Projector Screens

Floor Rising screens are another perfect solution for portable needs. Using both Electric or Manual pull-up operating systems, Floor Rising screen cases simply rest on the floor and open upward from a weighted base/case. They can also be placed on a table, piece of furniture or behind a piece of furniture to be hidden from view. Like Tripods, Floor Rising screens are very easy to carry and even more convenient for storage purposes. A terrific alternative to a bulkier tripod, the lightweight floor rising screen requires zero assembly out of the box. Also similar to Tripods, Floor Rising screens have optional carrying bags available to make transport a little simpler.

Folding Frame Projector Screens

Folding Frame screens are the best portable solution for larger venues and audiences. Typically used in auditoriums, on stage, at trade shows and sometimes at outdoor venues. Typically snapped or screwed together from multiple aluminum frame pieces with a tensioned screen surface, these screens are strong and durable - often coming with a hard case for transport. Folding Frames tend to also be a more expensive portable solution than your typical tripod or floor rising screens, due to their more professional use and durability.

Outdoor Projector Screens

Outdoor projection screens have become very popular recently. Whether its for neighborhood block parties or just family movie night, the party's been moved outdoors! With outdoor projection screens ranging from small, medium, large to huge....there's a size for every application. Some outdoor projection screens are electric, manual, folding frame, lace & grommet, fixed frames or even inflatable designs. Starting at very affordable price points under $225.00.

Tabletop Projector Screens

Tabletop Projector Screens are the ultimate small and portable projection solution. Perfect for use with micro or PICO projectors, tabletop screens are the lightest and most portable screens available. Typically a manual pull-up operation, Tabletop screens can also roll out horizontally or have a simple folding frame design. Tabletop Projector Screens are a terrific portable alternative to larger screens, but generally have a maximum size of a 50" Diagonal screen.

Tab-Tensioned / Tensioned Projector Screens

TensionedTab- and Tensioned Projector Screens create the best projection surfaces available. The perfectly flat tensioned surface maximizes the resolution capabilities and light reflectivity of your projector, optimizing performance and creating the best possible picture quality. Tensioned screens are typically fixed frames and folding frame designs. But a Tab-Tensioned screen options are available in Electric and Manual Wall or Ceiling Projectors screens. With these type of screens, a wire system is installed through the tabs on the side of the screen to keep the projection surface taught and flat, for the best possible image.

Projector Screen Paints

Projector Screen Paint is an extremely easy to use product and is designed to be applied just like any other interior paint. The screen can be used immediately after application. Care should be taken to ensure a smooth screen surface. The smoother the wall, free of defects, provides the sharpest image. Most screen paints will take 24 hours to cure to perfection but can be used immediately. Unlike other projections screens, Screen paint can be used for literally any application; auditoriums, classrooms, boardrooms, home theaters, game rooms or even outdoor venues.

Projection Whiteboards

Projection Whiteboards are a terrific solution for Classrooms and Offices alike. Bringing in the best of both surfaces, projection whiteboards allow you to have a Whiteboard surface along with a clear projection surface. Regular whiteboards have often been used incorrectly as screens, because a normal whiteboards highly reflective surface creates too much projector glare or reflectivity. Projection Whiteboards eliminate that glare with a grayer surface more conducive to absorbing the light from a projector. Projection Whiteboards are most commonly used with Short Throw or Interactive projectors.


Selecting the right projector screen fabric can seem very complicated, however the better you understand the purpose of a screen fabric, the easier it will be to decide what's right for you. Different screen fabrics are designed to handle different applications depending on the resolution of the media being used, the lighting conditions, the viewing angle of the audience and the sound distribution within the environment.

The most important place to start when selecting a screen fabric, are with the Gain and Viewing Angle of the fabric. There is a lot to know about each and how they affect each other (as gain increases viewing angle usually decreases). Having a basic understanding of these features prior to making your choice of a projector screen fabric, is the only way to ensure that you will make the most out of your equipment within the constraints of your environment.


Gain, is a measurement of a screen fabrics light reflectivity from the projection device, when the measurement is taken for light targeted and reflected perpendicular to the screen. A typical screen Gain of 1.0, means that all the light being directed at the screen is being reflecting back with the same brightness. Gain is however, directly affected by ambient light in the environment of the projected image. The brighter it is in a room(whether natural light from windows, or artificial light from bulbs), the greater the light being reflected will dissipate and wash out the image. Conversely, the less ambient light, the truer the image brightness will remain.

Gain greater than 1.0 - Means that the projection screen fabric is increasing the brightness of the projected image back to the audience.

Application - Higher Gain screen fabrics are typically used in environments with higher ambient light, where the light cannot be adequately dimmed or controlled. For example: large auditoriums, convention centers or office building with windows. They are also used when a projector is not powerful enough to create the adequate amount of brightness for the environment.

Pros and Cons? - Since an images brightness is a very subjective opinion, increased brightness may or may not be positive or negative. That all depends on the personal preferences of each individual. Too much brightness, however does eventually lead to the negative effect of "hot spotting". Projector screen fabrics with higher Gain exhibit mirror-like properties, namely a bright "hot spot" in the screen - an enlarged (and greatly blurred) reflection of the projector's lens.

Gain less than 1.0 - Means that the projection screen fabric is absorbing or dissipating some of the brightness of the projected image back to the audience.

Application - Screen fabrics with less than 1.0 of Gain are typically used where ambient light can be completely controlled. For example: conference rooms, movie theaters or home theater rooms(without windows and perfectly dark). Screen fabrics with less Gain are also useful when the Projector being used is too bright or powerful for the environment.

Pros and Cons? - Since an images brightness is a very subjective opinion, diminished brightness may or may not be positive or negative. That all depends on the personal preferences of each individual. Too dark of an image however, is a potential problem if your projector screen gain is too low, when using a low lumen projector, in a large room.


Viewing angle is a measurement of the distance from the center of the screen at which you can still see the same quality image as from the viewing axis. For example, some projection screens reflect more light perpendicular to the screen and less light to the sides, making the screen appear much darker (and sometimes colors distorted) if the viewer is not in the "sweet spot" or in the optimal viewing angle of the screen.

The difference between a narrow viewing and versus a wider viewing angle.


While white screens are the industry standard because of brightness, another important screen fabric decision involves the contrast of your projected image. A Grey screen is generally more capable of handling darker tones than its white counterpart. Contemporary grey screens are designed to have a gain factor similar to those of matte white screens, but a darker appearance with blacker black coloring. A darker Grey screen reflects less light, of course — both light from the projector and ambient light. This decreases the luminescence (brightness) of both the projected image and ambient light, so while the light areas of the projected image are dimmer, the dark areas are darker; white is less bright, but intended black is closer to actual black. Many screen manufacturers thus appropriately call their grey screens "high-contrast" models.

White Vs. Grey

Grey screens are designed to rely on powerful projectors that are able to produce adequate levels of luminosity so that the white areas of the image still appear as white, taking advantage of the non-linear perception of brightness in the human eye. A grey screen may thus succeed almost as well in delivering a bright-looking image, as a white screen would.

Another popular projection screen fabric feature is acoustic transparency, using perforated screen fabrics. Standard and microscopic perforations are available, which allow sound to pass through the screen with relatively little interference. The perforations in the screen fabric, thus create an acoustically transparent surface that does not compromise audio quality when speakers are placed behind the screen. The perforations are generally very small and barely noticeable at a distance. This acoustically transparent screen solution is ideal for many types of stage, cinema and home theater installations.

Standard and Microscopic Perforations


Screens are sized in a few standard formats: square, video format and HDTV are some of the most popular.

Square format screens have a width to height ratio that is generally 1:1, with some variation. Square screens are usually used for data presentations and overhead projectors.

Video format screens have a width to height ratio of 4:3.The 4:3 ratio for standard television has been in use since television's origins and many computer monitors use the same aspect ratio. Video Format screens are the best option if you'll be switching equally between fullscreen and widescreen viewing.

HDTV screens have a width to height ratio of 16:9. The optimal format for home theater, offering the best matched fit for widescreen viewing and is the international standard format of HDTV. Wider options include Letterbox and Widescreen; not all but a few of our screens are available in these sizes.

Can't Come To A Decision?
Can't come to a decision about which size or format screen you want? Chat us now! We can help!

Or call us toll-free at 1-800-431-2490 and we'll help guide you through the steps to making the correct purchase.