I recently read what I felt was a rather short-sighted blog post concerning the pros and cons of projection versus screens. The premise of the post—that projection is only an attractive option if you “want to watch movies”—is extremely limiting. I do agree that the only way to make an informed decision is to weigh the pros and cons; however, I believe that there’s more to this list than what was originally presented.

Pro_v_FPWhile it’s true that setting up a good quality video projection system may be more involved than simply buying a flat-screen TV, this discussion is about so much more than price. But let’s go ahead and look at price. The cost of your panel depends on where you buy it (Costco vs. the custom integrator who will truly get you a system which fits the needs of your family), size, warranty, and features said panel includes, plus the installation of that panel. If you are a DIY’er, do you know how to color balance and add your inputs? Are you hooking up a separate audio system (because we all know that the factory speakers tend to be awful)? Do you need three or four remotes to work your TV? Are you satisfied with a big black and grey rectangle hanging on your wall…all the time?

When not in use, screens like Draper's Ultimate Access remain hidden away out of sight.

When not in use, screens like Draper’s Ultimate Access remain hidden away out of sight.

A two piece projection system typically includes the installation of a projector on the ceiling (or perhaps recessed in a lift), but the plethora of screen models and projection surfaces available allow you to be infinitely creative with your screen install. If you are contemplating a dedicated home theater or media room, chances are that you will install a fixed frame screen. It will be the focus of your room, and it will dwarf the size of currently available flat panels. If you are mounting the screen in a multi-purpose space, you can decide to hide the technology when not in use (no more black rectangle on the wall) or leave it visible for everyone to admire. You’re not forced to mount the screen above the fireplace because it’s the only flat wall in the room, nor do you have to use an articulating mount so that everyone has the opportunity to view the screen (because we know the viewing angles on these panels is limited). We can recess the projection screen in the ceiling or wall mount behind that decorative beam in the ceiling, finding the perfect spot for everyone to view a great image.

And let’s talk size! 90” flat panels are available, but they are pricey! I found the Samsung 85” and LG 84” on sale today for $9999 MSRP. Are you truly able to install a panel this size by yourself? Is your wall built to support the weight?

The Ultimate Access deployed for use. Dealer: Station Earth. Photography © Terry Scott White  Photography, Kitchener, Ontario.

The Ultimate Access deployed for use. Dealer: Station Earth. Photography © Terry Scott White Photography, Kitchener, Ontario.

The argument for a flat panel is not as straightforward as it seems.

I’m pretty confident that you could install a two piece system for around the same cost … and get a much larger screen! Flat panels do tend to be brighter in high ambient light situations, but that brightness comes at the cost of decreased contrast. There are screen surfaces available today, like Draper’s TecVision XH900X and MS1000X Greys, that will enhance contrast and reject ambient light, making projection an option where perhaps it wouldn’t have worked before. These surfaces are 4K ready and are ISF certified—no color balance necessary! Unlike other ambient light rejecting screens, the TecVision surfaces are available on manual, motorized, fixed, and even portable screen models.

Both flat panel TVs and projection screens have a place in our homes. However, don’t dismiss projection as too complicated or too expensive, or assume that flat panels will be inexpensive and easy. You might be surprised … .

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