Elite Lunette Curved Projection Screen
Price: $1,600 At A Glance: Outstanding picture at any viewing angle • Cinematic curvature • Excellent value
At one time, two of my favorite Los Angeles–area theaters were in Westwood: the Village and the National. The Village had, and still has, a huge, flat screen. The National (tragically closed and torn down in 2008) had a gently curved one of about the same size. While the Village had the more awesome audio, I always preferred the subtly more immersive visual presentation at the National.
For that and other reasons, I’ve always wanted to try a curved home theater screen but generally considered them poor values. Enter Elite Screens, whose retractable Osprey design I reviewed in these pages (Home Theater, October 2011). That company now offers a range of fixed-frame, curved models—the Lunette Series—at surprisingly affordable prices.
Two different screen materials are available for the Lunette: Elite’s CineWhite, with a specified gain of 1.1, and the company’s AcousticPro1080p, a woven, acoustically transparent material said to have a gain of 1.0. Since the AcousticPro1080p increases the price of the screen rather dramatically, we went with the CineWhite.
The Lunette’s wide, curved frame is covered in a nonreflective black velvet. The back of the screen is blackened to eliminate light penetration (a feature many more expensive screens don’t offer).
Setup of the Lunette was easy, primarily because Elite assembled it for me while I watched! (Elite’s U.S. offices are located within easy driving distance of our studio.) But it didn’t appear to be a major challenge, though I’d recommend at least two people be on hand for the job. Once set up, the Lunette’s curved surface was uniformly smooth and wrinkle free. Elite furnished us with a stand (not commercially available) for our temporary review setup. The screen is normally wall mounted.
There are two primary disadvantages to a curved screen. First, retractable versions are not available from Elite—or any other manufacturer to our knowledge. And second, a large, concave surface can do weird things to a room’s acoustics. I couldn’t check for the latter, but the Lunette’s curvature is so gentle, I suspect its acoustic impact will be nil.
Viewed from just inches away with a bright, stationary test pattern, the CineWhite screen material had a subtle, visible texture. It was noticeable only because of its absence on our reference Stewart Filmscreen StudioTek 130. But it was not visible at a comfortable viewing distance on normal program material.
I also saw a hint of pincushion distortion, visible as a slight curvature of horizontal lines at the top and bottom of the picture. But with careful setup, this was invisible on anything but test patterns. Elite claims that a curved screen eliminates pincushioning, but that likely depends on the design of a projector’s lens (whether or not it’s corrected for an assumed flat screen) and the vertical position of the projector (in our tests, the projector was located slightly below center screen).
My prior positive experiences with that flat Elite screen using the same screen material largely told me what to expect, and I wasn’t disappointed. The picture quality was uniform from one side of the screen to the other, even at ridiculously wide viewing angles. Colors popped beautifully on Kung Fu Panda 2, and the resolution on the Elite from this disc was little short of astonishing. Prometheus, though far darker and offering less colorful eye candy, was just as impressive in its own way.
I loved what the curved screen did to enhance the cinematic feel of movies, and if my home installation allowed for such a screen (it doesn’t—I need a screen that retracts), I’d choose the Elite Lunette without hesitation.