Projector Screen Review: Elite CineTension Matte White Motorized Projector Screen, with remote controls: Overview 1

I certainly am much better set up to review projectors than screens, however, I do believe I’m getting the hang of reviewing projector screens. Until 2007, I’ve been doing barely more than 2 screen reviews a year, but that’s about to change, starting with the Elite CineTension projector screen, and I’m following that immediately, with the “high priced spread”; the latest version of the Firehawk, (the G3) from Stewart. I’m also planning in to bring in screens from Grandview, Da-lite, etc. So I’ll have two projector screen reviews done this year – before Superbowl. Plans call for doing at least a half dozen more throughout the year.

A bit of background on Elite Screens Here’s the scoop on Elite. I’ve previously reviewed two of their screens (the first in 2005), although, I took a 2nd look at their ezFrame when they changed the screen surface. The other was their first motorized screen, the Home Series. Here’s the big thing about Elite Screens: Elite is probably best described as the “low cost leader”. They haven’t necessarily had many major catagories of screens on the market long enough to establish themselves as the equal to established brands such as Da-Lite or Drape. And they definitely aren’t ready to challenge high end projector screen manufacturers like Stewart FilmScreen. That said, to date they have  proven to, provide a very respectable product from a performance standpoint. Their pricing advantage, no doubt comes from being a Taiwanese company that controls it’s manufacturing in China.

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When we reviewed their first screen, we were impressed with the price, so far below the competition, that it had no competition. While it was a decent screen, it left plenty of room for improvement. By comparison, our most recent review of their ezFrame HC Gray surface, proved to be far more impressive, not only still very affordable, but with good build quality, and the kind of general image performance that I would describe as good, or typical of mid-range major brand manufacturers.

So that brings us to this review – the Elite CineTension projector screen. This screen came with their matte white finish. (which made sense to me since I recently reviewed their HC gray surface). You can get the Cinetension with 3 difference surfaces, the Matte white tested here, the “Tension Grey” which I believe is the exact same surface as the

I was especially interested in the CineTension because it does seem to be by far, the least expensive motorized screen with tensioning. For those of you not familiar, motorized and pull-down screens, if not immediately, then over time, tend to stop being flat when lowered for use. The waves and/or creases they develop (more likely on larger surfaces, say at least 100″ diagonal and up) very quickly become both visible, and very annoying. The problems are most visible when what you are watching includes some slow panning of a scene. A few years ago I had a large motorized screen, that after about 2 years had serious waves (and no tensioning). Ultimately I replaced it because of the waves (as well as looking for some different performance – but it was the waves that really made me “pull the trigger”.

So, finally here is an affordable motorized screen, that comes not only with remote controls (yes, both infra-red and RF – choose the one you like), but tab tensioning to keep it flat.

So, what does one cost?

Elite primarily sells through dealers, so MSRP isn’t going to help you much. Let’s just say that discounting out there is significant, and 20% off would not be shocking. (But don’t forget – freight on screens will eat up some of those savings).

Prices for 16:9 Aspect Ratio Projector Screens:

92 inch $889
100 inch $949
106 inch $989
120 inch $1139

Here are a few MSRP prices, to give you a rough idea of what an Elite CineTension will set you back. These prices are for 16:9 aspect ratio projector screens in left table.

Now, to put that in perspective, a quick look at my Da-lite catalog (it’s a 2005 catalog, but prices on screens don’t change much) shows a price for Da-lite’s Cosmopolitan Electrol Tensioned 106″ 16:9 diagonal of $2107, and then, you have to pay extra to equip it with a remote control. Now, that’s a pretty substantial difference! – More than twice the price even when the Da-lite isn’t equipped witha remote control. It’s possible that Da-lite may now have a lower cost line of tensioned designed for the home, but to the best of my knowlegde, the “Cosmo Electrol Tensioned” is their lowest cost.

Perhaps more to the point, is the pricing of the Elite Cinetension compared to a non tensioned motorized screen from Da-lite and others. Again, I consult my old Da-lite catalog.

The Da-lite Cosmo 106″ 16:9 projector screen base price (no remote, matte white surface), is $997 MSRP, so basically (assuming similar discounting) the Elite provides you a tensioned screen with remote control for the same price as a Da-lite without tensioning or remote. BTW last I heard, all Da-lite screens are US manufactured.

The projector screen I received from Elite, for this review is the 92″ variety. (The part number is the TE92HW1).

Basically, in reviewing this projector screen, my primary concerns are:

Projector Screem Gain (brightness)
Color Accuracy (does the screen reflect back the same color balance as the light hitting the screen)
Effectiveness of the tensioning – does the screen lay completely flat)
Roll-off of brightness as you move to the sides, and is the image darker in the corners than the center, due to the angle)
Installation, Ease of Use

Elite CineTension Projector Screen: Gain

Elite rates this screen as having a gain of 1.1, fairly typical of matte white surfaces. While I don’t have a really excellent scientific method of determining it, my basic measurements indicate that it is close to claim. I previously measured Carada’s Brilliant White projector screen surface as being approximately 1.3 (they claim 1.4). I have the Carada mounted directly behind the Elite Cinetension, and after adjusting for the slightly different distances (the Elite is 5 inches closer to the projector), I found the Elite to produce roughly 84% of the Carada. Multiply that by 1.3 and I get an approximate gain of about 1.09. Close enough!

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In the image immediately below, the Elite surface is on the top, the Carada on the bottom, with a good monitor you can just barely detect a difference in brightness – although the difference is definitely slightly greater if you were standing in the room with me looking as I took this picture. Live you can not only pick up a slight difference in brightness, but also color.

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News And Comments

  • Paul

    Unfortunately, Elite screens has recently changed the quality on their low and mid level screens. Waves and dimples are the norm now. I wish I had purchased one a couple years ago while they were still good. A long conversation with Charlie in the warranty department made it clear that this will not change any time soon.