VividStorm 120″ ALR Riser Floor Screen For Laser TVs, UST Projectors- Continued

VividStorm 120” Diagonal Projector Screen Review: Hardware and Functionality, Screen Performance and Room Conditions, Practicality and Value Proposition

Hardware and Functionality

VividStorm’s 120” riser screen has about 14 inches of black “rise” material and black metal case combined when the screen is open. What is rise, you ask?

The “rise” material (called drop on a screen that opens downward) is limited, requiring raising the frame (my temp stand).

 

Well, it’s probably the right term, and the same as “drop” which would be the black – non-screen material between the case, and the screen surface, on a motorized screen mounted to the ceiling.  That amount of rise and case is the same for all of the VividStorm’s riser screens except the 72″ diagonal (which is very small), and which should be considered a tabletop screen.  After all, who would want the bottom of a 3 foot high image to start only 6 inches of the floor?

Having so little “rise” material, is my biggest issue about this screen, and therefore, also for the Elite’s version. Here’s the story: Most laser TVs or commercial UST’s when placed below the screen, sit 12-18 inches below the bottom of the actual screen surface.

Note that the screen case itself adds about 4 inches so that the bottom of the screen surface in this picture is just about 14” off the ground. If I put a laser TV (or UST projector) on my low console, for example, the image would start about 32” off the floor (depending on the particular UST projector’s actual throw) +/- 4”.

Screen dimensions for all VividStorm screens in this series

I would have to put the projector, basically right on the floor for it to work, and on a projector like the Optoma P1 which sits a bit further below the screen than most of the competition (about 18″ for a 120″ image), the P1 would have to be a couple of inches below the floor!

What this all means is that with a riser type screen like this, you need to have the screen’s base raised up enough to match your projector’s throw, especially taking into consideration the table it sits on. That can b accomplished with extra “rise” material but that’s not an option at this time (nor expected), or a stand to raise the screen up, which will be the go-to solution.

Note there are consoles hitting the market designed to place a screen like this, inside.

Here’s a photo of the lower right of the screen when fully extended before I added a stand. You can see the foot of black “rise” below the screen surface, and above the VividStorm logo on the metal base:

VividStorm-120_case-rise-surface

Without raising up the screen, in this picture below (taken on a gray day, btw, all blinds, shades open), you can see the rise material between the base and the screens surface material. An extra 18-20 inches would be ideal, but it may pose a challenge as the screen has to rise up that much higher, and in theory, would be less stable…

Because the screen is on the floor and the projector is already raised 19 inches on the console, the image ends only half on the screen, the rest hitting the wall above the screen.
Because the screen is on the floor and the projector is already raised 19 inches on the console, the image ends only half on the screen, the rest hitting the wall above the screen.

I have strongly recommended to Vividstorm that they need to offer some adjustable stand options (or more rise) Since they don’t, I had our handyman build a stand you can see in some photos. It is still unfinished but will be shortly, and then look good behind the console and projector. You can clearly see the black “rise” material in the photo below.

Partially constructed stand to raise up the VividStorm 120” ALR screen
Partially constructed stand to raise up the VividStorm 120” ALR screen

I do like that VividStorm provides both an IR and an RF remote control. Nice touch. BTW looks like the same remotes Elite provides with their motorized screens. (No surprise there!)

Once you press the remote, you are in for almost a one minute time to rise all the way up. Plenty of time to power up the rest of your gear, but not enough time to also get something to drink and eat. Yes, you can program in a stop, so it doesn’t fully extend if you don’t need it to. I haven’t done that yet, but will once my final projector arrives so that the VividStorm screen opens to the perfect height for my projector’s placement.

Sorry, I never took a photo or video of the back as it opens, so you could see the scissor-type way it opens and rises.

One potential issue when setting up the screen:

Make sure it is fully level. As I was playing around with my temporary stand, I didn’t always make sure it was perfectly level (especially back to front).
When the screen opens, of course it should go straight up. The top-left edge and right edges should be exactly directly above the lower left and right outside edges of the screen.

One time when opening, I noticed that the left side top was tilted over an inch more forward than the right side or the bottom. Much more and it just might have fallen over. After I lowered it, I realized it wasn’t level. Then I adjusted it. It’s still not perfectly vertical, to double-check it, I re-remeasured right now, moments ago. With the screen base level, the upper left side is still leaning forward, but per my measurement by less than 1/8 inch. That is insignificant across a roughly 10-foot wide screen. Certainly not enough to cause a focus problem.

The point is, make sure your screen is going straight up as it should.

Screen Performance vs Room Conditions

This screen is designed to deal with ambient light. There are, of course, limitations. ALR screens can only “reject” ambient light (by actually absorbing it), so it doesn’t reflect back to your eyes that come from angles far away from your projector. If it rejected light from near the projector it would also be rejecting the projector’s light. The end result – no picture.

The photo player here starts with a pano photo of the room at its brightest, but after that, the only image taken at that room brightness is the one immediately following.  Then the images following show performance as room ambient light diminishes. Basically from the first two with sun pouring into my crazy bright room, to somewhat cloudy, to heavily overcast, dusk, and evening.

There are room shots, and close-ups of the screen only, demonstrating how well the VividStorm 120 does with the Optoma P1. Keep in mind that most UST laser projectors and Laser TVs are a lot brighter than the P1, which is (at this time), the second least expensive 4K UHD laser TV now shipping.

How It Works: ALR

This screen uses an optical design for the ambient light rejection. Take proper care of it. It can be damaged and that would be an expensive mistake. Follow the gentle cleaning instructions if and when you need to clean it. If you are only leaving it open when using it, lightly dusting it is probably all you will do the first year or three. But mostly, don’t scratch it. That’s just a friendly reminder, especially if you have small kids that like to touch everything.

Optoma-CinemaX-P1_black_panther_space

ALR is the ticket to using projectors in less than home theater/cave type rooms. These ALR screens also work just fine in a dedicated home theater. I know. I now have an ALR screen in my theater, and one in my living room. The one in my theater allows me to open the shades of my side window – perfect for watching sports if the living room is too bright

These screens – in general – designed for UST projectors, are less effective at rejecting ambient than those designed for s normal throw projectors. It is only important as is necessary so that you understand the limitations.

With a UST projector, from the projector to the bottom right (assuming projector on a table), the angle to hit the corner is only up about 20 degrees, almost straight out to the sides.

In this pano image of my room under worst-case lighting conditions you can see that most of the light is coming in from the doors, and that light is coming mostly horizontal at similar angles. The angle from those doors isn’t greatly different than the beam of light from the projector to the lower-left corner. If the screen “rejected light from that angle, then there would also be no picture there. Get it?

pano of sunny room
Pano image of my living room at brightest time of day, west exposure, sun pouring in. Not usable!

To hit the top center, that’s up the full 90 degrees up. So ambient light coming from below, can’t be absorbed either, whether coming from the left, center or right.

Essentially, with a projector below the UST screen, the screen is only effective in dealing with overhead lighting. That it can’t deal well with side lighting is why most Laser TVs can’t really handle a very bright room. But they can handle a typical living room, family room etc with some shades on windows, etc.  Use an equally bright regular throw projector and matching ALR screen and in most bright rooms the screen/projector combination is far more effective.

Still, it is the convenient design and straightforward installation of a laser TV (and motorized or wall mounted screen), that makes it a “living room” friendly solution for us to all enjoy a really big screen experience.

Enough said the pictures tell the story. If your room is more reasonable than mine, and you have decent control (shades, lighting) This large screen (120” is always impressive), works great with Laser TVs like the Optoma P1 as well as the VAVA, LG, and others. For folks like me with more impossible rooms, I see the solution in part, by going for a significantly bright projector. That still won’t be great at the worst time of day, with sunlight streaming in, but then that’s why I have a more modestly sized TV mounted to the wall. The TV is my idea of a sort of a “break glass in case of massive sunlight” solution.

If your room is more reasonable, then even in the daytime, everything should look at least as good as this image.  This was one – also in the player – was taken on a partially cloudy day:

The Value Proposition and Competition

You will find the VividStorm in the 120” diagonal size on Amazon. There it sells for $2299. The smaller 100” sells there for $1899.
Interestingly Elite’s 120” sports a list price of $7499! ($6499 for their 100”). Now I’m sure they aren’t selling for anything near that, but still, it’s a shocking difference. Elite is selling it through their premium EPV line, primarily for commercial use.

Other than the Elite and SI motorized screens we are about to discuss, the rest of the competition right now for UST/ALR screens, are rigid screens.  Now if the family has no issues with a big gray screen on the wall when you guys aren’t watching, a rigid screen will defiinitely save you a lot of money. Figure 100″ UST/ALR screens start at about $1000 or less, but can go up into the several thousands of dollars, depending on the brand.

All considered, it sure seems like you will be able to buy one of these VividStorms, for less than the equivalent Elite. But, you also are getting a shorter warranty. The VividStorms come with 2-year parts and labor warranty (Elite’s EPV screens come with a 5-year warranty.) You may have to decide how much more the longer warranty is worth to you when comparing prices. Still, VividStorm is the new player on the block so I suspect they will make every effort to stay priced below the Elite (EPV) equivalent DarkStar FR. (FR = Front Riser).

The VividStorm screens (this 120” and the 100”) are equally capable in education or business environments. Riser screens are popular in churches – Houses of Worship – as well. And using a commercial UST laser projector would normally mean a jump in brightness over the Optoma P1 (designed for home) used in these images.

There is definitely one other competitor for the VividStorm in terms of ALR screens for UST projectors. That other major competitor is Screen Innovations. They showed their 100” Solo at CEDIA. It is the more traditional motorized screen – you can mount to the ceiling or the wall. The Solo and Solo 2 products offer similar ALR abilities based on my viewing at the show but different features.

Now it turns out that some folks – such as my wife, generally would prefer a wall or ceiling mounted screen that comes down, then the riser sitting on a stand. In the battle for the living room and for family sanity, there is a real possibility that I will switch to the SI Solo in the 120” diagonal size when it starts shipping I would have brought one of those in for review at the same time as the VividStorm had they been ready. SI offers premium screens.  But that decision would likely be purely based on cosmetics.  You’ve seen our teal colored wall…

SI’s 100” lists in the $4000 range (generally you won’t find any large discounts on SI). I am not aware of the expected price for the 120” when it ships, but it will be higher still.  I will say that besides being a traditional motorized screen, in that it comes down from above, it is pretty cool. There are various options, to plug it in to recharge, run it on batteries, or feed it AC. Also nice – and the reason it gets my wife’s vote:   the case is thin and available in decorator colors. My wife already knows which case she likes. Hint:

Ultimately, the choices are yours. At this time, Q2 2020, however, the choices for a light rejecting screen designed for ultra-short-throw projectors and laser TVs are extremely limited.

It certainly looks like the only affordable game in town at the moment is the VividStorm. Elite’s EPV Darkstar Max FR, is the virtually identical competition, but so far, because of the different sales channels (AV dealers and integrators for SI) vs VividStorm available on Amazon, it certainly seems today that if you can live with merely a 2-year warranty instead of five, the VividStorm 120” or 100” will save you a bunch.

I have attempted to show you both the strengths, and the  limitations not of this particular model of VividStorm screen, but of the category of UST/ALR screens. As long as you are aware, you have the ability to choose wisely.

Please remember, that as far as UST / laser TV projectors go, all the images here were taken using the Optoma P1 which topped out, when measured at just barely 2000 lumens. There are other laser TVs that should be twice as bright or even more (but cost more), that can do a far better job in an exceptionally bright living room like mine. You will be able to choose soon enough from laser TVs that are brighter.  Expect a couple to be twice as bright or brighter still.

I expect I will add some additional images in a few months, once the Epson LS500 laser TV ships. That one claims 4000 lumens. That combined with being 3LCD vs DLP should make it, for one at least twice as bright as the P1 we used, so that paired with this screen, (or better, the 100”) it should prove to be far more watchable on those brighter days!

The Bottom Line: At this time, you just can’t beat the VividStorm price for a motorized ALR – UST screen today. And that’s the type of screen you need for laser TVs in less than ideal rooms.

One final note. I am always skeptical of Amazon product ratings, being a professional reviewer. Lots of people post 4 and 5-star ratings even before really using the product. Still, their ratings are a good tool when there’s little info out there. Turns out (remember these are brand new screens), that as of this writing the 100” and the 120” have 32 combined ratings with a 4.9 out of 5. All 4 and 5 stars. Well, that’s certainly a good start, for a brand relatively unknown in the US.

All considered, I’m good to go with this 120” VividStorm for the duration, in my living room. That said, budget allowing, I suspect my wife will ultimately insist on replacing it with one of those 3X as expensive Solo Pro screens with the case done in teal and blue (to match our room). In the old days, we called this potential conflict: “The wife factor,” but today, let’s just make that a more politically correct “Partner Factor!” Oh well!

Finally, I remind you that the model I have here for review is a pre-production one. I would only expect that the ones being sold today are at least a little better. They might be a touch quieter, they might open or close faster (unlikely), but other improvements may make it even more stable. (That relates to my experience when the screen was not leveled.)

As we’re still mostly holed up in Florida due to Covid-19, we’re watching a lot more movies and TV (and dying for more sports). I do believe tonight, I’ll fire up The Princess Bride again in my living room. As to whether the VividStorm remains in our living room, or whether it gets replaced with a more expensive motorized screen in my wife’s choice of decorator colors, I just can’t say.  I will, however say that I’m just fine staying with this VividStorm screen.  Ultimately, as Wesley (from The Princes Bride)  would say, I must also say:  “As You Wish!”  For those not familiar, happy wife, happy life would be another way of putting it.

The VividStorm Pro 120″ definitely gets the job done, and does it for an excellent price.

Enjoy.

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