For a long time, projectors in the inexpensive segment were disposable. Most of the time, they offered a hard-to-use resolution with 480p, were way too dark, and incredibly loud. But there has been movement in the market in recent months. The Blitzwolf BW-VP5 (test report) in particular surprised us with a surprisingly good and bright 720p picture. It’s just too strong anyway.
If you don’t have a smooth white wall or just want to improve the quality of the projection, you can use a projection screen. We want to find out what a screen can do with an inexpensive projector. To do this, we compared the projection on a wall with the projection on the Blitzwolf BW-VS1 mobile screen, which costs 50 euros, and the Celexon Motor Tension HomeCinema – Dynamic Slate ALR motor screen, which costs almost 700 euros. .
If you are interested in a canvas, you must first decide on a size. Besides the available space, it mainly depends on three factors: the distance between the seats, the resolution of the projector and the brightness of the projector. The distance between the seats should be chosen so that the screen is completely in the viewer’s field of vision. So it shouldn’t be necessary to move your head left and right, like in the front row of the cinema, to capture the entire image.
In our case, however, the inexpensive projector is the limiting factor in terms of the distance between the seats. The main problem: As the width of the image increases, the projector needs an exponentially higher light output. So if the screen width doubles, the projector needs four times more light for the same brightness. Even with the brightest and cheapest Blitzwolf BW-VP5 projector, we recommend a maximum projection size of 79 inches, which is two meters diagonal. Another factor is the resolution of the projector. The lower it is, the more the viewer should sit away from the projection so that no blurring or artifacts are visible. For a 79-inch picture at 720p, we recommend a sitting distance of at least 3.5 meters, with the same size and Full HD you can run up to a good two meters.
The “cheapest” canvas is the wall. But not all of them are suitable for projection. If there is woodchip wallpaper, for example, viewers can say goodbye to all the details in the picture. We do not recommend spraying wallpaper. Even smooth walls are not always suitable, as the color used in interiors usually has a light yellow tone for comfort, which distorts the image. However, if you wish, you can apply a special projection paint.
Mobile screens, including the Blitzwolf BW-VS1 discussed here, come with a tripod and a sliding screen. They are great for getting started. The Blitzwolf BW-VS1 is set up in two minutes, its tripod base holds, but looks a bit wobbly. Our example has a noticeable dent in the metal. It doesn’t restrict it functionally, but it looks ugly. Here, buyers should contact customer service for a replacement.
For a mobile screen, it is 2.2 meters wide. The screen has a maximum height of 1.2 meters. The upper edge of the canvas rises up to 2.5 meters. For even more tips for a cost-effective large-format display installation, we recommend the tips from our sister publication c’t Tight cloths: tips for the mobile projection screen.
Here in the price comparison we show the cheapest mobile projection screens with a width of at least two meters. These start there at around 60 euros. The Blitzwolf BW-VS1 costs Banggood (Kauflink) with promo code BG44919f 55 euros, sent from the Czech Republic.
A roll-up screen wraps the screen in a metal box to save space when not in use. This box is permanently suspended from the ceiling or wall. Their biggest drawback: As the handle usually hangs down the middle under the canvas, even tall people have to stretch vigorously to be able to get them out of the rolled up state. For this, they are inexpensive. Variants with a width of two meters or more start at 60 euros, as our price comparison shows.
Electric screens are particularly popular for home theaters. These motorized screens extend and retract with the push of a button on a remote control. There are many variations that are optimized for home theater. For this guide, we take a closer look at the Celexon Motor Tension HomeCinema – Dynamic Slate ALR motorized display. For installation, you first dowel two retaining arms to the wall, then snap the metal box into place. It is not a problem for buyers with basic know-how, but it is better to have two people to install it.
Due to their complex and robust design, many motorized displays offer image enhancement measures. The Celexon Motor Tension HomeCinema comes – as the name suggests – with tension, also known as string tension. This elastic band on the side also keeps the fabric flat in edge areas, preventing geometry distortion.
Even though a canvas looks perfect right after installation, after a while it may show waves, wrinkles, or ears. This is not uncommon for roll-up and motorized screens, as the screen is subjected to mechanical stress every time it is unrolled and retracted. It is also possible that the fabric yellows under the influence of UV. If you want to enjoy your canvas for a long time, you need to focus on quality. Even if cheap motorized screens with a diagonal of two meters or more start at around 100 euros, as our price comparison shows.
The frame screen is the queen of projection screens in terms of projection quality. It’s not for nothing that you can find them in cinemas. Its main drawback: once installed, it is always there. It is basically only suitable for special movie theaters and high quality facilities. In our case, however, we want to know if a screen is worth it with a cheap projector, so we exclude them from the comparison.
The classic canvas in matt white largely reflects light in all directions and acts as a neutral mirror. It perfectly reproduces the real quality of the projector. Its major drawback is that it also reflects ambient light and reflects it back on the user. This way the image is blended and looks paler and less contrasting. This problem is particularly evident in rooms with residual lighting. In our case, the Blitzwolf BW-VS1 offers such a matte white fabric.
So-called contrast screens reduce the problem. They usually have a gray base, which, thanks to a special coating, should ignore stray and extraneous light. These cloths greatly increase the contrast, the black values are particularly beneficial, but the colors also appear more vivid. The downside is that the viewing angle is reduced and the illumination of the image towards the edges is poor. The Celexon Tension motorized screen fabric is a high contrast fabric. For more information on the reflective properties of fabrics, we recommend the article c’t Stretched napkins.
Now let’s move on to the central question of this article: Does a screen improve the image of my cheap projector? The clear answer: it depends. Anyone who has a white wall as a projection surface without annoying wallpaper such as wood chips and uses the projector mainly in a dark room should be well served. Besides a possible slight yellow tint in color, a wall offers acceptable reflective properties – especially with affordable entry level spotlights.
On the other hand, if you don’t have an acceptable wall, you can hardly avoid a screen. Mobile screens with tripods are ideal for beginners. These can be set up in minutes and put away again just as quickly. Roller shutters and motorized screens are designed as permanent installations and are best suited for those who plan to use the projector regularly.
To get an idea of the properties to improve the image quality of a projection screen, we installed the 50 Euro Blitzwolf BW-VP5 projector (test report) and the 130 Euro Full HD Xiaomi Wanbo T2 Max projector ( test report) from three meters away on a white wall, the cheap white screen Blitzwolf BW-VS1 and the high quality motorized screen with high contrast fabric from Celexon.
In bright rooms, the white wall and the Blitzwolf canvas are almost level. In both cases, the image is muddy and low in contrast. Even for viewing bright pictures or football matches, it is only suitable to a limited extent; dark pictures or movies are no fun at all. This is mainly due to the low light of the projectors. Even Celexon’s high-quality screen fails to tickle a decent image from cheap projectors. In short, inexpensive spotlights are simply not suitable for use in bright rooms.
If, on the other hand, the room is completely darkened, a completely different picture emerges. Again, the white wall and the Blitzwolf canvas are close to each other, but the canvas shows more intense colors. The Celexon screen now fully shows its strengths. The black levels in particular are really good. However, it also swallows some of the light from the projection, which isn’t particularly bright anyway. If you want the best picture, you also need to choose a good projector that matches the right screen and not only offers at least 1080p resolution, but also provides sufficient brightness.
The Blitzwolf BW-VP5 (test report) is a usable projector for as little as 50 euros. We particularly like it thanks to its bright colors and high brightness for this price. The Xiaomi Wanbo T2 Max (review) is also a recommendation due to its 1080p resolution, but it is a little less bright.
An inexpensive projector screen is especially useful for those who don’t have a white wall without wallpaper. Here you can use cheap and flexible mobile screens with a tripod. High-quality displays such as the Celexon Motor Tension HomeCinema – Dynamic Slate ALR provide a significantly higher contrast range, especially in completely dark rooms, but the difference is not so clear in bright rooms.
However, we wonder if it makes sense to buy a screen at 600 euros for a projector at 100 euros. Here, buyers should better invest their money in a better quality projector. The screen with a high contrast fabric is great, but above all it shows its strengths with very good projectors. These are now not as expensive as our market snapshot shows: 4K projectors are getting affordable. Our Cheap vs Expensive buying tip gives a good overview of really cheap projectors for occasional use: Six projectors from 60 to 700 euros in comparison.
Disclaimer: This article is generated from the feed and is not edited by our team.