A lot of people have been utilising large screen televisions in the past few years for large vision experiences. The reason for this is primarily down to the reduction in prices of large screen TVs (talking 55″ to 76″ here in the main) and the advent of even larger screens (84″ to 105″). The idea of popping a TV screen up on a wall and be all done and dusted is also appealing. Extremely bright screens as well, perfect for use in well lit rooms has also been an attraction, whereas projectors and projection screens have only been good for a dedicated room or night-time viewing.
The problems however with these type of TV Screens are numerous :
(a) The vast majority have a glass panel on the front. Glass reflects light. So any light that hits the glass panel causes reflections, even at night. Not great when it competes with your image and makes it harder to see the image. Even ambient light can have very poor effects here as can be seen in the image below.
(b) The demise of Plasma Technology and rise of LED (which is still a LCD based technology) means we have screens that basically react slowly. Whilst they are getting better, LED is still unable to match the smoothness of images that the best Plasma TV units created and in most cases, what projectors can do.
(c) Black levels…are still hard to get right on televisions, especially when considering strong black contrast differentials. They are getting better, but still don’t hit the mark.
(d) The larger the screen, the bigger the glass panel. The thinner the bezel (surround around the screen) combined with thinner glass, the higher the risk of cracking the screen when installing. Also thinner glass and thinner bezels have pretty much meant one of two things :
(i) Inputs and power supplies are in some cases now external (creating the case of an external “brick” that has to go somewhere – sort of defeats the purpose of having a large thin screen) or the large TV screens require a large plinth where all this is kept (meaning it is very difficult to mount the screen on the wall).
(ii) Most of these TVs have very poor quality speakers in them – basically making sound from TV defunct (this was a major reason to go TV over Projector / Projector screen)
(e) Pixel definition. The larger the screen, the more pixels are better…right? Well not necessarily. Pixel count only makes up 1 part of many aspects that make a picture what it is and concentration too much on pixel count can lead to less performance in other key critical areas. The larger the screen also the larger the pixels. So in order to have a smooth image when watching, the distance you can sit from the TV has to increase…and when you feed a TV with high pixel counts a low resolution image (say your standard definition TV signal) you have to move even further and further away from the screen when watching to eliminate image issues.
Projector screens on the other hand, have pretty much primarily been white. White is in reality not great for a projector screen. At cinemas they do have what looks like a white screen, but these screens are coated in silver to massively improve picture image, contrast and brightness and improve light reflection back to the sitting position. However for home use unless you are super rich, Silver Coated screens are well out of most people’s budgets.
White screens however due to their affordability, became the standard. They are good, not great. They scatter light unevenly (make the surfaces of the room bright and distracting, also lower the amount of light that is returned to the viewer) and it is almost impossible to create true blacks and deep colours. Black light on white screen = greying effect.
The projection screen industry brought out a material called Lunar Grey to try and improve this…basically a vinyl material that had a grey finish to it. This helped with the contrast levels so better colour, but the downside was that it also produced greying whites. It was also what we call a negative gain screen, therefore it throws back less light than is put to it. So with a Lunar Grey screen you required a much brighter projector…which often were noisier, ran much hotter and did not produce such great images (there is an inverse relationship between brightness and contrast).
In 2008 however, a company in the USA called Screen Innovations launched a projector screen called Black Diamond. This was a first of its kind. This was the first time that a screen image could get close to the real silver screen at cinemas without the huge budget! The Black Diamond screen offered the unique situation of being able to produce high quality blacks, high levels of contrast and a bright image all in one. It meant for the first time that your Home Theatre became a Home Cinema…with image quality that was up to the standard in a cinema (dependent on your projector of course). Since 2008 Screen Innovations have developed Black Diamond further to obtain the other main advantage, taking the cinema outside of the Home Theatre room into the living room.
Suddenly with Black Diamond you could have a massive screen in your living room and not be so restricted to size. With the advent of Black Diamond II and Zero Edge in recent years (the world’s thinnest bezel projection screen at just 10mm) the Projector Screen became something more aesthetically pleasing as well! The benefits of a Black Diamond screen became evident very quickly especially in a living room :
(a) Black Diamond Material rejects ambient light. That means that you can have the lights on in the room and still have an outstanding picture of a huge size. Below shows a section of Black Diamond material up against the background of a white screen in very ambient lit conditions.
(b) Black Diamond is not reflective – so no issues with ghastly light reflection whilst watching TV
(c) Black Diamond improves contrast ratio, brightness and overall image quality (this occurs even in a dedicated room with no light…the image literally “pops” off the screen with Black Diamond)
(d) You can have screens as large as 150″s in your living room! When using a projector, the way this technology works you do not suffer (from decent brands such as Runco etc) in motion response issues, lag or other motion artefacts as you do with large screen TVs, even with high pixel counts. You can sit much closer to the screen if you wish to do so than with a TV as well without having to go to high pixel counts either. It depends on the quality of the projector, but the better ones out there combined with a Black Diamond screen will produce unbelievably good and realistic pictures.
(e) Black levels are supreme! Black light falls onto dark grey material…much easier to produce much better blacks.
(f) The screen is all that needs to go on the wall – or alternatively you can have it disappear all-together! Yes you do need a projector, but all your electronics are bundled into one area nice and neatly (no cables having to be hidden behind the screen etc). A good custom installer will also be able to make the projector almost disappear and in some cases can make it disappear! Black Diamond Motorised screen became in effect the world’s first rollable / disappearing TV!
(g) In most cases, utilising a Black Diamond Projector screen with a good quality projector, it will cost you less than a large screen TV…and you will get a much bigger size by at least 20% up to 50% for the same cost! In the extreme sizes such as 84″ to 105″ TVs, you will find that even going with a very high end projector (such as a Runco X-450D) and Black Diamond Screen can be anywhere as close to 50% or less than the relative TV cost, and still produce a 20% – 50% larger image!
Screen Innovations have continued to develop Black Diamond Technology over the years and are leaders in the Screen Projection market. They work very closely with key major projector brands and are recommended by many of these as the best screen to use.
So when you are looking for a large screen TV I would highly recommend to consider a Screen Innovations Black Diamond Screen paired with a great projector rather than a TV. The result will be far superior in so many ways.
In Western Australia, Screen Innovations Black Diamond Screens are available from :
- Electronic Interiors
- Epic Cinema & Sound
- Kaiser AI
- SAVI Systems
- West Coast Hifi Joondalup
- West Coast Hifi Rockingham
- West Coast Hifi O’Connor
Most of these dealers’ details can be found on our dealer page. Alternatively, please drop us a line on our contact page so we can assist you with your questions.