In this section, we’ll cover the types of screens that can be purchased, as well as the pros and cons of each one.
Electric screens are wall or ceiling mountable screens that use electric motors to power the screen “up and down”. Projection screens come in a multitude of styles and models, and within the electric screens there are arrays of options.
Ceiling mount or wall mounted? Do you want the screen to mount against the wall below ceiling level? This type of mounting is common in rooms with very high ceilings. A typical wall mounted electric screen will look like the one shown in Figure 1.
Ceiling mounted electric screens come in two varieties: in-ceiling mounting and below the ceiling mounting. The below ceiling mounted screens are the same as wall mounted screens (see Figure 1), except that the in-ceiling mounted screens are made so that the opening of the screen is flush with the ceiling. These are commonly referred to as “concealed electric screens” because they are difficult to detect.
A typical in-ceiling mounted screen will look like the one shown in Figure 2.
The last type of electric screen that we will talk about is the tensioned screen. All electric screens can be ordered tensioned or non-tensioned. Tensioned screens have a wire that runs down both sides of the screen to pull the screen fabric taut. This creates a perfectly flat surface on which to display an image.
Non-tensioned screens can have small wrinkles and waves in the fabric that can distract the viewers’ experience. Also, non-tensioned screens are more apt to wave in a breeze of someone walking close to them, or from nearby A/C vents. A tensioned electric screen will look like the one shown in Figure 3.
Electric screens can be a great solution since they have a variety of mounting options and styles. They work great for people that haven’t yet built their viewing rooms, want a screen to be hidden when not in use, and for those with larger budgets. However, these screens are expensive, need electric outlets, and usually require structural reinforcement or remodeling of some sort to mount.
Fixed Screens – Fixed Frame Screens
Fixed screens are screens that are mounted to frames, very much like pictures or paintings. The fixed screen can be mounted to the frame via Velcro, lace and grommet, or snaps. See Figure 4.
Fixed frame screens are generally cheaper than electric screens and because they are mounted to frames, they are perfectly flat, making them ideal for home theater applications. However, because the screens are permanently installed, it makes concealment difficult and space must be available on walls. Also, many people find this to be a less aesthetic solution than a screen that can raise and lower.
Manual screens are a type of roll up screen that is operated by hand. They are, by far, the least expensive type of screen to purchase. See Figure 5.
Manual pull-down screens are wall and ceiling mountable, and can be tensioned like electric screens, although not all manufacturers will tension manual screens. Like their electric counterparts, manual screens take up less space than fixed screens, but manual screens are much easier to mount. They don’t have electric motors to add weight and complexity to installation.
On the down side, they can’t offer a perfectly flat surface like a fixed screen, and most manufacturers offer limited styles and options with their manual screens.
Portable screens are screens that can be placed on the floor and can fold into very small packaging for portability.
There are generally two types of portable screens including tripod screens (as shown in Figure 6);
and scissor lift screens (as shown in Figure 7.).
Portable screens are usually very limited in size and offer very limited screen surface types. Obviously the main advantage of these screens is their portability and low cost.