As I have already noted in the previous section of this review, once the Stewart Deluxe Wallscreen was assembled and mounted, the screen's surface was taut without any waves. Thus, the mechanical condition of the projection surface was extremely flat and that's as good as it gets. With those 'mechanical' considerations out of the way, it really comes down to the image quality provided by the screen's SnoMatte 100 surface material. Ultimately the question becomes what does the projection surface do to add or take away from the image that is being projected. There are four factors below are considered essential to this evaluation.
- Frequently a screen's surface can introduce a change to the color balance of the projected image. Generally, a professional calibration of the projector using sensor readings taken off of the screen can correct for such changes to color balance that have been introduced by the screen. As for the Stewart SnoMatte 100 reviewed here, it is as neutral as any screen surface material I have ever seen. By that I mean the screen itself does not appear to introduce any visible color shift and is in fact good enough to be considered a reference standard against which other screen materials can be judged.
- The next factor than can impact image quality is the smoothness of the screen surface. Some projection screens use woven fabrics and/or components in their surface coating that can result in a texture or coarseness to the screen's surface that becomes visible in the projected image. The SnoMatte 100 fabric has a ultra smooth surface that does not introduced any undesirable surface characteristics into the visible image. Even the very slightest surface texture was only visible when examining the screen surface really close-up, and by that I mean within just a few inches (and I had to put on my reading glass even to see that). I compared the surface smoothness to Stewart's popular StudioTek 130 (ST130) screen surface and that excellent quality medium gain screen surface was clearly not as smooth as the SnoMatte 100 (or ST100). Again, the SnoMatte 100 provides reference quality for surface smoothness.
- The final image quality factor to be addressed is the introduction of "sparkles" in the visible image. The surface coatings used on screens, especially those with positive gain, include reflective components. These are necessary to increase the screen gain by reflecting more of the incoming light from the projector back toward the viewers. Some higher gain screen fabrics introduce lots of "sparkles", or very small bright points within a projected image, while the best of the moderate gain screens, such as Stewart's ST130 fabric, may only produce a few visible "sparkles". For the Snomatte 100, with its unity gain (gain = 1.0), Stewart has delivered up a screen material with no visible sparkles.
- Most projectors will have some light drop off at the corners of the projected image as compared to the center, and ideally the screen surface should not further contribute to any lack of brightness uniformity. Brightness uniformity is appeared outstanding with the SnoMatte 100 screen material.
As for the overall image quality of the Stewart Deluxe Wallscreen outfitted with the SnoMatte 100 screen material, the quality of the projected image will be limited only by the performance of the projector being used and the room characteristics (e.g. complete control of ambient light and black, or very dark colored, walls/ceiling/floor covering). Thus, when used in conjunction with a top quality projector and in a well designed home theater room, this screen supports displaying a truly reference quality image.
Since the section above on Image Quality has already declared that the Deluxe Screen Wall equipped with the SnoMatte 100 screen surface is capable of supporting a reference quality image, this performance section will address some of this screen's other specific performance characteristics and limitations.
- The Stewart Snomatte 100 screen surface is specified to have a gain of 1.0 and it is in fact a true unity gain matte white screen surface. Going with a higher gain screen surface is an alternative that could provide a brighter image, but with a likely visible reduction in image quality when viewed under ideal conditions. The Snomatte 100 screen surface is a great choice for providing optimum image quality if your projector's light output and the screen size result in a projected image that has adequate brightness. Given the size screen I used for this review (i.e, approx. 127 x 53 inches with a 2.4:1 aspect ratio), the projector needs to put out a little over 1000 lumens to provide the often recommended 16 foot lamberts of brightness from the screen when using the zoom method to display widescreen (i.e., 'scope') content. My JVC DLA-RS600U projector had no trouble, in my fully light controlled home theater, in providing enough light output to produced a bright image when using the projector's lens memory to correctly display widescreen 'scope' movies using the full width of the screen.
- Being a true unity gain matte white screen also means the Snomatte 100 screen surface offers a extremely wide viewing angle. Thus, a viewer located directly centered in front of the screen and a 2nd viewer located well off center, such as toward the side of the home theater, will see the projected image at essentially the same brightness. This also means there will be no "hot spots" where one part of the image will appear brighter than another, as can be the case with high gain screens.