by Canada HiFi
Every movie buff dreams of a dedicated home theatre room with a projector and a big screen. The reality is that not everyone can afford the luxury of a dedicated home theatre room. In fact most of us can't, so we set up home theatres in our living rooms. But how can you get away with placing a screen in your living room? Surely you don't want a big white screen permanently mounted on one of the walls in your living room.
Elite Screens has the perfect solution that's affordable, easy to mount and won't take over your living room. The Elite Home Series electric screen line-up contains screens from 66 inches all the way up to 198 inches in size. The screens hide away inside a compact white or black housing that can virtually disappear in your room.
Our review unit was the Elite Screens Home Series 100IWH 94 inch, 16:9 ratio electric screen in a slim, glossy-white aluminium housing. The screen is made of a matte white PVC material coated with fiber glass and has a screen gain of 1.1. Screen gain measures the reflectivity of the screen compared to the light reflected from a standard white (magnesium oxide) board. A screen with a gain of 1.0 reflects the same amount of light as that from a white board. A black vinyl backing on the screen prevents light from passing through the screen. The 100IWH screen has a 1-3/16 inch black border on the sides and the bottom. The top of the screen has a 6 inch black drop but can be ordered in custom sizes of up to 30 inches. This black border enhances the perceived brightness of an image on the screen. The 100IWH has a viewing size of 46 inches by 81 inches and offers a viewing angle of about 160 degrees horizontally and vertically. A black aluminium bar runs along the bottom of the screen keeping the screen flat when it's lowered. Every electric screen from Elite Screens contains an IR remote control, a wired 3-way wall-mountable switch and two L-shaped brackets for wall or ceiling mounting. The 100IWH is driven by a tube motor. An optional 12V trigger (HOMEDCT12) can be purchased separately which can automatically lower the screen when your projector is powered on and raise the screen when your projector is turned off.
Mounting the screen on the ceiling in my basement did take a little handy work but the supplied L-shaped mounting brackets couldn't make the job easier. Since my basement has a drop ceiling, I couldn't mount the brackets directly to the ceiling. I cut two pieces of a two-by-four and mounted them to the actual ceiling. These served as extensions that reached just below my drop ceiling. Then, I mounted the L-shaped brackets to the extensions and attached the screen to the brackets. Finally, I plugged the power cord coming out the right side of the screen housing to a nearby wall outlet. In a permanent setup, it would definitely be nice to have the power wired inside the ceiling, for a cleaner look. I positioned the screen about two feet away from the wall, so that it would come down in front of my plasma television. This allowed me to use either the plasma or the projector in the same space. The white housing of the screen was so sleek and compact that it blended very well with my white ceiling. The whole project took me about one and a half hours. If attaching the brackets directly to the ceiling were an option in my basement, mounting would have taken me less than 20 minutes.
Since the 100IWH screen is electric, it definitely has a "wow" factor. Pressing the 'down' button on the remote for the first time, fully lowered the screen, leaving 6 inches of a top black drop above the white screen surface. A single press of the 'up' button rolled the screen back up. The screen had factory preset lower and upper limits although they were easily customizable with a limit switch handle on the side of the screen housing. I didn't want the extra black drop showing, so I adjusted the lower limit. There is also a 'stop' button on the remote which allowed me to stop the screen at any position. The remote's glossy white and black finish was attractive although the front battery access door slightly impeded its look. It's definitely unconventional to have a battery slot on the top.
The Elite Home Series uses a tube motor which provided a very fluid although not exactly quiet operation. It took about 6 seconds to lower or raise the screen. The aluminium bar at the bottom of the screen created just the right amount of tension to make the screen perfectly flat when fully deployed.
During my tests, I used the Marantz VP8600 DLP-based projector, also reviewed in this issue. Some of the movies that I watched on this screen included The Island, 2046, Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, King Kong, Finding Nemo and Valiant. I calibrated the Marantz VP8600 projector using a Digital Video Essentials to deliver the most accurate picture.
The matte white screen produced great results from the start. The picture brightness, contrast and black levels were spectacular and uniform on the entire surface of the screen. I looked for a hotspot in the centre of the screen during light and dark scenes but didn't notice one at all. The screen did not generate any colour shifts, detectable to the average eye, in the image. Some screens can slightly alter one or more of the colours being projected on to them. During all the movies that I watched, the colours looked properly saturated and natural on the 100IWH. The picture resolution was excellent from both DVD and high-definition sources. The black border around the screen did a great job increasing the perceived brightness of the picture and prevented the image from escaping at the edges of the screen. Over scanned images hitting the black border were visible because the border did not absorb much of them. Since the screen has a gain of 1.1, it offered a wide viewing angle so the picture appeared exactly the same from all the seating positions in my room.
The 94 inch Elite Screens Home Series 100IWH screen produced a truly cinematic performance in my home theatre where a fixed screen was not an option. Its suggested price of $1075 offers a great value and is much lower than other major-brand electric screens, which certainly makes it attractive. The Home Series offers a wide range of sizes of affordable electric screens that come in surprisingly small enclosures and can be mounted in virtually any room.