Epson PowerLite Cinema 550 LCD Projector Let there be light
Screen Innovations has designed the Viságe screen to improve the contrast of front-projected images in a brighter viewing environment. A high-contrast filter covers 60 percent of the screen's surface, causing the screen to reflect the projected image while absorbing incidental light from lamps, windows, etc. The Viságe screen has a 2.0 gain.
Screen Innovations sent me a 60-inch Viságe framed by one of their ScreenAccents textured fabric frames. Installation was quite easy. I simply mounted the 2-foot-long wall brace into studs in my living-room wall and hung the frame on the brace. It requires less effort than hanging a plasma and weighs less.
With my normal screen, I could barely see any images projected by the Cinema 550 in the darker Theatre and Theatre Black 2 picture modes during the day or even with the lights on at night. The Viságe successfully added enough contrast to create a watchable picture in a brighter room, although it wasn't nearly as saturated as what I had in a dark room.
Because the screen reflects the projected image but not the ambient light, the image quality is inconsistent. The onscreen area that's in your direct line of sight is brighter and more saturated, while the outlying regions are slightly more muted. If your projector has multiple picture modes, using a brighter mode accentuates this effect, so you should stick with the darker modes you already use at night.
The projector's placement also matters. Firing an image straight at the center of the screen will distribute the light more evenly. Most people either fire the image up from a table or down from the ceiling. I found that ceiling placement created better light distribution than tabletop placement in my room.
The Viságe does improve contrast. If you own a projector with limited light output and at least want the option of watching HDTV in a brighter room, it's worth checking out. Even if you have a brighter projector, the Viságe allows you to use a darker setting, thus preserving lamp life and often reducing fan noise.—AM
Viságe screen, Prices range from $1,900 (60 inches) to $4,600 (120 inches) >
Screen Innovations, www.screeninnovations.com