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Topic: ALR screens with long-throw laser projectors
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Joined: Jul 22, 2023
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I probably already know the answer to this (don't buy an ALR screen and control the room lighting), but figured I'd throw it out here in case anyone has any other insight.

I'm getting a Sony VPL-XW6000ES (upgrading from a lamp projector) and was about to pull the trigger on an Elite Screens ALR screen (specifically the Starling Tab-Tension 2 CineGray 5D) to replace my flat white screen. It gets mostly positive reviews, but there was one negative review that mentioned how bad it looks (hot-spot and sparkles) when you're using a laser projector. This is probably a side-effect of the ALR material. Does anyone know of an ALR screen out there that doesn't have this problem with long-throw laser projectors? Of course, my other option is to get black-out curtains for the room. I know the ALRs can degrade picture quality too. Just wondering if anyone had any experience with an ALR screen that actually worked well with a laser.
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Joined: Mar 28, 2005
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The laser certainly is not the issue.

It deals with the retro reflective material which is embedded in standard long throw ALR screens. Kind of like a street sign at night reflecting your headlights. There is a bit of sparkle and shimmer to these screens.

I've seen maybe a dozen or more materials that are ALR, and they have all exhibited sparkling to some extent or another. I've been super frustrated with them. They are close to magic with how much contrast they deliver in a bright room, which makes them completely amazing for board rooms, or sports bars, but at home... I just strongly recommend against them. Especially since their price warrants getting good window coverings instead.

I wish I had something better to say, but in my personal observations, I do not.

Because ultra-short throw projectors (UST) work very differently, the UST/ALR screens are a different story. They are not retroreflective, and they do a very good job with ambient light rejection and the UST/ALR screens look quite good. It makes sense to me why this is, but it still isn't a perfect solution and nothing beats a good room.

You really are asking good questions, and you already have good answers.

I have not personally played, in my home, with ALR screens and my JVC projector to see how different materials react with different setups. But, at trade shows and such, I keep a very critical eye on the different setups. Always looking for a great ALR screen. Just haven't seen one yet.
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
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Joined: Jul 22, 2023
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Thank you for the response. I'll definitely be going with a non-ALR.

I ordered some sample material from Elite Screens to do some daytime testing. From left to right in the photos: CineWhite, CineGrey, CineGrey 5D.

The CineGrey 5D (right) had some nice blacks without losing brightness in the whites, but the brightness drops off sharply as the viewing angle changes, and any slight wrinkles in the screen would be distracting.

The CineGrey (middle) just darkened everything too much. Both it and the 5D sparkled about the same as my existing screen when the picture was bright.

CineWhite (left) didn't have the deep blacks, of course, but I find with this new projector, it's so much brighter than my previous one that even daytime viewing looks good. Add some better light control in the room, and I'll be in good shape. It also greatly reduced the sparkles compared to my existing screen, so win-win.

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Joined: Mar 28, 2005
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That's great that you did that testing. It's really hard to describe online, or even with photos, how the sparkling and image uniformity issues impact real world viewing. I also know that some people can live with it and are perfectly happy. While, I know that it drives me completely nuts.

It is impressive how ALR screens do a very good job of improving contrast. But, it isn't a something for nothing exchange for sure.

Glad you spent the time to determine for yourself what made the most sense in your use situation and I hope you are very happy with the end result.
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
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Yes, for something that I'll potentially have for decades, I definitely wanted to put some thought and testing into it. I decided to go with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio Stewart with their 1.0 gain StudioTek 100 material. My current screen (from Elite Screens) is a 16:9, but with this new projector's ability to change zooms on the fly to fill the screen, might as well take advantage.
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