Projector Screen Review: Gemmy Inflatable Outdoor Screen

Gemmy Projector Screen Image Quality

I’ll make no attempt here to compare the Gemmy to a traditional indoor screen. What I can say, however, is that I dragged out the family, and then a couple of friends who I invited over, and everyone agreed there was a definite, major, wow factor! “This is cool.” was probably the most common accolade.

The screen surface seemed very neutral in terms of color accuracy. I didn’t notice any shift in color to red, blue, or any other color. Of course, there was some low levels of ambient light in my back yard, from the neighborhood lighting…

Click Image to Enlarge

Movie watching outside definitely is practical. The Epson Cinema 400 I used is a relatively bright new home theater projector, but not dramatically brighter than most others. Even in it’s Theater Dark 1 mode, it was able to fill the screen reasonably well, but I opted to use one of the brighter preset modes – Theater, and then the much brighter Living Room” mode. The Living Room mode had way more than enough brightness, even with the modest outside ambient light.

Two issues – wrinkles on the screen surface, and fan noise.

First, unpacking this new screen, neatly folded in the carry bag, there were plenty of wrinkles. A quick look at the documentation, and it says that the wrinkles will come out over a short time.

I had the screen set up for about 5 hours, before deflating it for the night. I can say that some of the wrinkles did vanish, or become less noticeable, but some of the hard creases did remain, although they might have diminished somewhat over that time. Whether a couple dozen hours of setup will get rid of them all, I cannot guess. It is possible that Gemmy may have a recommendation to get out all of the wrinkles, but personally, I rarely spotted them. The image below – shot about 2 hours after setup – I chose to show you, because of the large sky background – nice and smooth, so that the wrinkles are as visible to you as they would get. Click on the image, for a much larger one, and you will spot the wrinkles high center right next to the man’s face, and you can see other lines in the screen, horizontal and vertical. There is a little bit of waves from the screen, on the sides, due to the screen not being perfectly flat, but the clips that attach the screen to the frame should easily adjust to allow the surface to be tightened up.

Now, IMHO (in my humble opinion) the wrinkles are not a critical issue. I doubt people are buying a portable outdoor screen expecting the same level of quality from a far more expensive, flat, fixed wall, indoor screen.

The other issue is fan noise. I paid attention to this, because, when I listed on the site that I was going to review it, a reader emailed me, mentioning that he heard many of these types of screens fans, are noisey.

I can say that the fan noise was definitely louder than the projector, perhaps an extra 10-15 db. I don’t believe, though, that it is a problem considering the environment. I could hear the fan, sure, but also crickets, my neighbor’s air conditioning unit, and some traffic noise, too. I found the noise levels to be nothing like the kids’ birthday party jumper things, which can be very loud.

This screen is for fun, family nights, block parties, and probably commercial outdoor applications too. and it really does provide the fun factor and a more than acceptable image. Any wrinkles and modest fan noise do not impact the fun at all.

Speaking of fun – I would have liked to see what the screen could do with a non-home theater projector – say one with 3500-5000 lumens to see if it could handle a cloudy day, and not just be a nighttime product.

So, in summary, this is a really low cost screen, that sets up best with two people, but one can handle it (at least with no wind). It lets you project a really large image – over 12 feet diagonal, and does a very nice job overall, minor wrinkles notwithstanding.

I think documentation can be improved a bit, including how to deal with the wrinkles, if possible. I would also like to see adjustable tethers, but that’s pretty minor.

Overall, it appears to be a great product, selling for well under $300, which seems to be a small fraction of other (although often larger) inflatable screens.

As a result, I am pleased to give the Gemmy Inflatable Screen our first ever Special Interest Award! An impressive product, at a great price.

In fact, it makes me want to own an all-in-one projector, like the Epson Moviemate 25, or Optoma DV10.

Editor’s note: Or newer All-in-one projectors – as of 5/2008, such as the Epson MovieMate 50 and MovieMate 72, and the Optoma DV-11.

From a practical standpoint, I could set up the screen in less than 10 minutes, and have an all-in-one projector and sound system running in less than 5 more minutes! Have long extension cord, will Travel!

Instant Block Party! – Can’t beat that!

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