Mitsubishi HC7000 - Projector Screens
11/19/2008 - Art Feierman
HC7000 Projector Screen Recommendations:
This is pretty easy. Take a projector like the HC7000, with great black levels and limited brightness, and the answer for most buyers is easy.
The answer is, for most, white surfaced screens. For those sticking to smaller sized screens - under 110" diagonal, screens with a gain from 1.0 to 1.4 should be a great matchup. While watching the HC7000 (link to specs) projector on my 106 inch diagonal, I found the blacks to stay nice and dark, and the Carada's 1.4 claimed gain, gives you a little more brightness as would comparable screens like the industry standard (but expensive) Stewart Firehawk G3, as well as generally similar screens from other well known players like Elite Screens, Draper, and Da-Lite.
If you want to go larger, you'll need to consider higher gain screens - say 1.8 to 2.5 gain. These are the screens that allow the HC7000 to handle larger image sizes.
The downside to the higher gain screens is that they have a narrow viewing cone, you definitely want to sit as close to being in the center as possible. Even in the center seat, on scenes with large bright areas, such as the sky, you will likely see some roll off in the corners. Remember that projectors inherently are slightly brighter in the center than the corners (most claim 85% to 90% evenness of illumination, and that means that the corners are only 85 to 90 percent as bright as the center. Add the screen roll off in, and you can spot the rolloff. Is it great? Is it a problem? Let's just say, no, it's not great, but all else considered, better to avoid the higher gain screens. In other words, just one more trade-off to consider as you pick your next projector.
Can you use a nice high contrast gray screen? Sure, and it will further improve the black levels. I really wouldn't recommend going that route though, unless you had good reasons, and I can think of two: First, if you have a side ambient light problem, as the HC gray surface, will "reject" much of it. As an example Firehawk is an HC gray and it does really help, with my windows (though covered) on one side of my room. The second reason is if you have a very small screen - 82 inch diagonal, maybe up to 92" diagonal. With those sized screens you shouldn't have to worry about lumens, so why not enjoy even better black levels than a white surfaced screen can provide?