A comparison between curved and flat projector screens
You might be confused about whether to get a curved or flat projector screen for your home theatre or game room.
Each of these screens has its pros and cons.
In this article, we will compare the two to help you better decide which one is right for you.
Flat Projector Screens
The more popular type of projector screen is the flat projector screen. The reason for this is that they are much simpler all around.
They are easier to set up and use. You can read this article to learn more about how to set up a flat projector screen.
You will have no trouble searching for a flat projector screen to fit your needs. You can find them for sale almost anywhere in various sizes and materials.
Curved Projector Screens
Curved projector screens, on the other hand, are not as popular. They do, however, provide a more interesting viewing experience.
Curved projector screens were originally created to eliminate what is called the pincushion effect. This occurs when the projected image is very wide. When you’re projecting an image in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio or wider, the edges may start to become distorted.
When you’re using a lower powered projector, the edges of your display will also appear darker and often out of focus. This is because the edges are already significantly farther away from your lens.
To fix these issues, the curved projector screen was designed. These screens essentially bring the edges closer to your projector lens. This eliminates the pincushion effect. It also allows the light and lens focus to be more evenly spread out on your screen.
The more immersive effect from a curved projector screen has become something people look for as well. This effect cannot be obtained with a flat projector screen.
Looking for a high quality curved projector screen? Here’s our recommendation:
Can I Use a Curved Screen with My Projector?
Before you buy a curved projector screen, you’ll need to make sure it can work with your projector. Not all projectors can work with a curved screen.
Curved screens are usually wider than normal projector screens. They are typically in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. You might be able to find newer ones in a 16:9 ratio. Anything less than that won’t add much to viewing experience when compared to a flat screen.
Because curved screens are wider, your projector needs to be able to project a wide display. Budget and portable projectors usually don’t let you project wider than 16:9.
There are a few tricks you can do to get your budget projector to work with a curved projector screen. Particularly one that is wider than the 16:9 ratio.
The results will not be as good as when you get a projector designed to display ultra-wide. You can still, however, get some decent results using these tricks.
Crop and Warp
When your projector doesn’t project wide enough images, you have the option to crop the image to fit the screen. This is the most inexpensive way to get your projector to work with the screen.
Most popular media players give you the option to adjust the aspect ratio of the media you’re viewing. If yours doesn’t come with that option, you can use different software that will crop your display for you.
Cropping it into a wider display is not going to completely solve your problem yet. You might notice that the image spills at the top and bottom of the screen because of the curve.
To fix this, you need to install a warp software designed for projectors. You can check out Vioso’s website for projector software with wrap features. Warp software lets you adjust all the edges and corners of your image so that it fits into your curved screen.
Anamorphic Projector Lens
Another trick is to get an anamorphic lens for your projector. Good anamorphic lenses don’t come cheap, but you can find several budget ones that could work for you.
This Elmoscope Anamorphic Lens from Japan is on the more expensive side but will do a great job of projecting wide images.
Anamorphic lenses or A-lenses, attach to your projector lens. They are larger than normal projector lenses because they need to let more light through. Anamorphic lenses can project images in 2.35:1. A few of them can go even wider.
You may still need to use a wrap software to fine-tune the image edges to fit your curved screen. Although most of the time you can do without a wrap software.
If your screen has a big curve, you can synchronize multiple projectors to fill your screen.
The power of one projector won’t be enough to evenly light up a large screen with a big curve. And you will need to do a ton of warping, which negatively affects image quality.
Two projectors will work really well with a very wide and curved screen. You may synch even more projectors if needed.
For you to be able to synch the projectors, a special mapping software needs to run from your computer. MadMapper is a powerful software that is quite popular for synching projectors.
If you’re going to use more than one projector, you might also need to get an HDMI hub. Computers and laptops usually only come with one HDMI port. If this is the case, you need to get an HDMI hub to connect all your projectors to your computer.
This is perhaps the most expensive and inconvenient option. For one, you need to purchase a few projectors. Your projectors also have to be connected to your computer at all times to run the mapping software.
The positive side, though, is that you get an enhanced viewing experience. One that cannot be achieved using a single projector.
How to make a curved projector screen?
It is not quite as easy to purchase a curved projector screen as a flat one. You won’t have as many size and aspect ratio options when you’re searching for curved screens.
For this reason, you might want to consider building your own curved projector screen. It might seem a little intimidating at first, but it is actually similar to building a flat one.
You can watch this video to see how one YouTuber created a curved projector screen using the simple method that we teach you below.
The simplest way to build a curved projector screen is to use flexible plywood or hardboard. Coat one side of the material you’re using with a primer. Then you can apply a couple of coats of projector screen paint.
You can check out the projector screen paint below. It offers good reflection and works really well with 4K projections.
Attach a piece of 4x2 wood vertically across the back of your coated board. Make sure it is aligned with the center of the board. You can then attach it to your wall with long wood screws.
To create the curve, simply install brackets behind the edges of your board. The farther your brackets protrude from the wall, the bigger your curve will be. You can adjust this depending on the type of brackets you install.
How to keep a projector screen flat?
If you’ve opted to go with a flat projector screen, you’ll want to keep your screen as flat as possible.
The simplest way to do this is to ensure that your screen has the right amount of tension on all edges. Installing your screen material on the frame should be done carefully.
Start with the center and slowly move towards the corners of the screen. You’ll need to alternate between the top and bottom and the sides of the screen when you’re stretching it onto your frame.
You might need to go back a few times to get rid of any wrinkles.
Setting up and using a flat projector screen is easier and more convenient. It is also really easy to find one in the correct size and aspect ratio you need.
If you’re willing to do the extra work, and possibly shell out a few additional dollars, then a curved projector screen will give you that immersive viewing experience.
There is no better option when choosing between a curved or flat projector screen. You should pick the one that fits your needs.
Last update on 2020-08-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.