Choosing the right projector screen for your home theater involves considering a number of important factors. Everything from the screen's size to its material and mounting can affect your viewing experience. Another important, but often overlooked, decision is whether to purchase a screen with a built-in border or one without any sort of border whatsoever.
A border may significantly alter your ultimate projector screen size, which in turn may influence the screen's ideal location. When comparing screens, always make certain to get the viewable screen's dimensions and its total size. The presence of a border may influence both numbers and create unexpected headaches. For instance, if you're in the market for a 100-inch screen, a border may reduce the visible area to 88 inches. For a true 100-inch viewing experience, you would need to purchase a larger screen or select a 100-inch screen without a border. The additional 4 to 6 inches in width and height a border creates may completely throw off your intended screen location and viewing angles.
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A projection screen border is far more than a mere decorative detail. The border serves a vital role in enhancing the projected image. A black border improves the human eye's ability to process the image by providing a necessary reference point. As a result, the border enhances contrast and makes the image appear brighter and more colorful. The border should never be made from metal or covered in a shiny black paint that reflects light. The best option is black fabric, ideally black velvet, that can absorb light and provide the perfect contrast.
The projected image's light tends to bleed beyond the image, and the excess glow may weaken picture quality. A black border absorbs this excess light, creating a cleaner, crisper image. For this reason, the border must always be black, and the larger the border the better. A minimum border of 2 inches will usually suffice, although a 3-inch border may be needed for larger screens.
While a projector screen with no border may be easier to size, the border's benefits in terms of picture quality makes it all but a necessity for projector screens. However, pairing a screen without a border with the proper backdrop can provide the best of both worlds. Mounting the screen against a wall covered with black cloth or a non-reflective black matte paint can provide the necessary contrast and light absorption without sacrificing any viewable screen size.