Projector Reviews

Elite Screens CineGrey 3D ALR Screen Review – Summary

Elite Screens CineGrey 3D ALR Screen Review – Summary: Summary, Pros, Cons

Summary

The CineGrey 3D screen material is designed to reject up to 65% of off-angle ambient light, and works with projectors that have a normal throw distance (around 9-12 feet back from the screen). It does not work with short throw and ultra short throw projectors, as it mistakes the light from the projector as being off-angle ambient light and rejects it. The material comes in a variety of screen sizes ranging from 92” to 200” diagonal for a 16:9 screen, and 103” to 158” diagonal for the 2.35:1 widescreen format. Priced for the enthusiast on a budget, the CineGrey 3D screen material can be purchased for between $404 (92”) and $1069 (158”).

I reviewed this screen using 4K UHD content projected by the Sony VPL-VW665ES, an 1,800-lumen true 4K projector priced at $15K. Elite Screens was interested to see how the screen faired when 4K content was projected. The end result? The projector and 4K UHD content played nice with the CineGrey 3D screen.

CineGrey 3D Screen 4K Passengers Ambient Light
The CineGrey 3D material does well handling ambient light.

Elite Screens CineGrey 3D 4K Passengers Jennifer Lawrence
The same scene from Passengers being projected on the CineGrey 3D material at night.

Let’s be realistic for a second. If you’ve got the fifteen grand to spend on a machine like the Sony, you’re probably not going to be buying a $400-1000 screen to pair it with. That kind of money opens up a whole world of high end projector screens, and the ALR screen in an appropriately matched price range that comes to mind is Screen Innovations’ Black Diamond material. That screen is just over $4K.

Consider Elite Screens’ CineGrey 3D to be an affordable alternative to Screen Innovations’ Black Diamond. The CineGrey would have been more appropriately paired with something like the $2,499 Optoma UHD65 or the $2,699 pixel-shifting Epson Home Cinema 5040UB for shooting this 4K UHD content, rather than the unattainable-for-most Sony VPL-VW665ES. If you simply must have true 4K, Sony did just come out with the VPL-VW285ES, which is the first true 4K projector to be sold for under $5,000…

Alternatively, I would have liked to see how the Epson Home Cinema 1440, an under-$2000 bright room projector, faired against the same amount of ambient light. That one claims 4,400 lumens, and I am curious how the projector and screen material would pair. My assumption is that it would be able to combat some serious ambient light and still have vibrant color.

This ALR screen would be appropriate for lecture halls, boardrooms, and other business and education environments in addition to living rooms, family rooms, media rooms, and home theaters. As I was writing, I thought about my teacher friends’ chief complaint about using projectors in their rooms – ambient light and a washed out, nearly unwatchable image. My friends work at a junior/senior high school for the arts and are constantly showing YouTube videos and films, and I can’t help but think their problems would be solved by replacing their screens with a material such as this. It certainly is a more affordable alternative to replacing 100+ projectors throughout the school…

If you are into higher end screens, Elite does have a sister company called EPV Screens, which sells dedicated custom installer products. Their “Black Screen” with ambient light rejecting technology may be of particular interest to you if you’re looking to pair a high end projector, such as the Sony VPL-VW665ES used in this review, with a high performance screen. That one is called the DarkStar 9, and can absorb up to 90% of in-room ambient light – think on that one for a bit. It’s sold only through their network of authorized dealers, so price will vary, but consider it to be high-end like the aforementioned Black Diamond.

The Bottom Line on Performance

I was impressed by the CineGrey 3D screen material’s ability to reject ambient light. Before I installed blackout curtains, my living room was an ambient light nightmare. I have a giant window facing some rather-reflective white garage doors, which came with leaky blinds. Before those curtains, with a non-ALR screen, I had to pin up thick, dark fabric any time I wanted to measure lumens or take photos for reviews and get any dark shadow detail whatsoever. My frustrations are shared by many a projector fan, and the CineGrey 3D ALR screen may just be the answer to your bright room problems (or, if you already bought a too-dim projector for your home theater/media room/family room and are looking for an affordable alternative to replacing the projector).

As you can see from the comparative photo below, the CineGrey 3D screen material does well at keeping the image from being washed out, even when there’s a quite a bit of ambient light. Direct your attention to the lower left hand corner on the left side of the image, where the screen is being blasted with the most ambient light. You can still clearly see the detail of the image (though, as expected, the image is slightly washed out – the key word being “slightly”). Now, look at the same scene being projected at night. The difference is there, but it’s much less of a difference than would be seen with my matte white screen.

CineGrey 3D Screen Material Day and Night Comparison
CineGrey 3D Screen Material Day and Night Comparison

4K UHD content looks phenomenal on the screen, day or night. The photos in the slider below show images captured with ambient light, and in a fully darkened room. Of course, an ALR screen is most useful during the day, but it is nice to know that the image looks beautiful at night and the ALR technology does not interfere with a stellar image in a fully darkened room.

On that note, the ALR feature of the screen can benefit you when viewing content at night. The Elite Screens LED Backlight Kit did not seem to have much of an effect at all on washing out the image. With the CineGrey 3D screen, if you should want to have a bit of mood lighting while watching content, the backlights should not affect black levels too much. And, if you’ve got kids, chances are they’ll really enjoy the futuristic look of LED strip lights.

CineGrey 3D Screen Elite Screens LED Light Strips
The LED Backlight Kit does not appear to have an effect on the image.

Pros

  • ISF Certified for accurate color points, color temperature and dynamic range
  • Polarized 3D material with 1.2 Gain, contrast enhancement and excellent color balance
  • Angular Reflective, Ambient Light Rejecting (up to 65%)
  • Active 3D, 4K Ultra HD, and HDR Ready
  • Affordable cost and available in the following diagonal sizes: 92”, 100”, 110”, 120”, 135”, 150”, and 200” in 16:9 format; 103”, 125”, and 158” in 2.35:1 format
  • Easy to assemble and install in minutes
  • EDGE FREE® or install ultra-thin trim
  • Wall mount brackets slide ensuring the frame is properly centered
  • Optional LED backlight kit with remote control
  • 2-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • 3-year warranty offered through ENR-G program (Education, Non-Profit, Religious and Government)

Cons

  • Does not work with short throw and ultra short throw projectors
  • Only 3 sizes in 2.35:1 widescreen format
  • Grey color on a fixed screen may not meet with spouse approval (try suggesting neutral/natural tone décor to complement the screen)