Just five years old, Austin, Texas-based Screen Innovations recently introduced its latest high-contrast screen model, the Black Diamond. Manufactured in its Austin facility, the screen features multiple layers of laminated optical material on a flexible background that permits the screen to be rolled up into a tube for easy shipment. The frame consists of two horizontal and two vertical components that are easily assembled in much the same fashion as a standard metal picture frame. Flexible vinyl “wings” are attached to the screen material, and these are pressed into slot channels with plastic bars on all sides. It only took me about a half-hour from start to finish to put it all together, and when it was all done, the screen material itself was suitably flat and properly tensioned.
The review sample’s nearly black screen surface together with the elegant wood-accented frame with black velvet screen trim gives the screen a look that is more reminiscent of a luxury plasma flat panel than that of a front projection screen.
Available in fixed-frame and roll-down models, the material is available in both low- and high-gain versions. While we would have like to have tested both types, we were only able to get our hands on the higher-gain version, which has a 1.4 gain and an 88-degree viewing angle.
The review sample at 60 inches diagonal is a tad smaller than most would prefer for a home theater system, but Screen Innovations is targeting commercial users as well as home theater customers and offers a range of sizes up to 113 inches diagonal (16:9 aspect ratio). The smaller size of the review sample allows me to set it up on stands directly in front of my reference 78-inch screen (a Stewart GrayHawk RS) so that I can shift the projector slightly and get a good side-by-side comparison between the two.
Once everything is set up, I check the light output from the Black Diamond with a 100 percent white field test pattern, and the analyzer reports a value of 42 foot-Lamberts. That’s about as bright as a 60-inch plasma flat panel is capable of putting out, suggesting that a 100-inch version would provide a reasonable 12 foot-Lamberts with a typical 300W projector.
With my test patterns and test HD clips, I can clearly see a watchable image on the Black Diamond, even when I turn up the tracklighting that is just overhead. While I can still see an image on my Stewart screen, it’s quite obviously washed-out and pale, whereas with the Black Diamond, it still looks bright and colorful.
(Pirates Of The Caribbean–
The Curse Of The Black Pearl)
|A close-up shot of a bronzed pirate skull medallion in the first chapter reveals all the detail of the burnished metal, and looks the same as it does on my reference Stewart screen.||The color analyzer reports that the Black Diamond screen is biased towards blue, but not by much (only about 800 degrees Kelvin away from the ideal D65 white point), and the whites look just about as good as they do on my GrayHawk. The rich blues and reds of the various British naval characters’ ornate uniforms look great and the various actors’ skin tones look natural.||Easy to spot Captain Jack’s jet black eyes and eye makeup, as the screen excels at maintaining deep blacks even when I bring up the room lighting.||Screen Innovations quotes a ±44-degree viewing angle for the Black Diamond, which jives with my rough guesstimate by moving offside the screen center and looking for noticeable falloff. That’s wide enough to ensure that most viewers in the room will be able to see an acceptably bright picture.|
The Black Diamond excels at light rejection, and yet still has a respectably wide viewing angle. The color quality is excellent, as is the detail (Screen Innovations engineered the Black Diamond to be compatible with ultra high resolution digital cinema projectors that have twice the detail of today’s 1080p home theater projectors). And, that very slight shift towards blue that I measured with the color analyzer is something that’s easily fixed with a video calibration. Compared to a typical premium front projection screen, the Black Diamond is hardly more expensive, and Screen Innovations offers a variety of frame styles, finishes, and cosmetic options. I think they’ve got another winner with the Black Diamond.