The most demanding factor when shopping for a projector screen is ensuring that the image is represented as accurately as possible. Most screens accomplish this by varying colors (black, white, and gray), screen material, and reflective properties. However, you should also consider whether you want to get a screen that just sits there like a fixed-frame blackboard or painting or an electric screen that could hide or roll-up itself when not in use.
In other words, this is an article about fixed projector screen vs electric screen. Which is better for your projector needs? Should you go for the more expensive electric screen or settle for a fixed one?
What Are Fixed-Frame Screens?
A fixed frame or fixed-frame screen for projectors, simply put, is a picture frame with the blank screen stretched over it like canvas so that you can directly projected unto it your favorite movies or TV shows. You can’t roll up or put away a fixed frame screen whether it’s electronically or manually done. You should have a room, center, office, or meeting hall that has enough space to accommodate your fixed frame screen.
This is because the screen is supposed to be permanent. The screen type is the most “elite” and convenient of all screen types because of its lack of moving parts. Also, it’s much easier to install. You just need to hang it like a blackboard.
What Are Electric Projector Screens?
An electric projector screen, as opposed to a fixed frame or manually operated screens, is a screen that can roll up and down when in use. The main appeal of this screen is that at the press of a button you can hide up or bring down in order to store it away when you don’t need to use it. Other people prefer a manual screen you can bring down and fasten to a hook below like a window blind because most consumers know how to use a blind.
However, certain offices or rich households prefer the additional convenience of pressing a button to operate it. The main downsides to this screen type are the cost of the screen, its installation, and its repair when it malfunctions.
Fixed vs. Electric Screens
It’s now time for our main event. Which should you buy? Fixed or electric?
- Fixed Is Basically a Blank Canvas or Picture Frame: A fixed projector screen is basically a blank canvas or picture frame you hang on your wall. Home theaters appear their most “theatrical” or “cinematic” if you have enough space to accommodate a fixed frame screen. Most consumers don’t care about storing away their screen and would rather have a screen that they can access as easily as their DVD players, BD players, or HDTVs. It’s just there for projector use. No storage needed.
- Tab-Tensioned versus Non-Tensioned: If you’d rather get an electric or motorized projector screen, you have to choose between non-tensioned and tab-tensioned variants. Tab-tensioned screens have a bit of potential energy stored in them that’s released into kinetic energy when you’re about to put the screen away. A non-tensioned screen is basically a stiff, framed screen that goes up or down care of a motor, which works like your car window. If money is no object to you, then getting a motorized screen beats hanging a screen over a wall like a blackboard.
- Fixed-Frame Screens Are Large, Flat Panels: A fixed frame screen is mostly cheaper than their motorized or electronic counterparts because they’re mounted directly to your wall. They serve as a large, flat-panel for your projector to project upon its image or projection. Movie theaters and cinema halls mostly make use of these screens, but you can get smaller, home theater versions for you as well. They also weigh less than motorized screens because of the lack of motivation to put them away.
- Recessed and Slot-Installed: The screen itself is usually hidden through a slot installed on your ceiling as a mounted, recessed device so that when it’s not in use it’s truly out of sight and out of mind. They also come with a wood trim design to better camouflage them when not in use. A decent electric projector screen can run on 100 volts, but you can get 220-volt models as well if you need a faster or larger screen for your 4K projector viewings. There are also screens you can operate by remote control, not unlike your projector or HDTV.
- More Durable and Cost-Effective: Fixed-frame screens are renowned for their durability. Because they aren’t being constantly rolled or moved up and down in between uses, you’re assured that they’ll last you a long, long time. Contrast them to motorized electric screens that definitely have an expiration or replacement date depending on usage. You’re basically trading convenience in terms of maintenance over convenience over wall space and storage when you’re choosing an electric screen over a fixed-frame screen.
- Installation and Maintenance Concerns: Fixed frame screens can be easily mounted to any wall space while electric screens require a bit of home improvement and professional work to allow for, say, a recessed ceiling installment or placement from down below the floor. It’s also easier to clean and maintain a fixed-frame screen versus an electric screen that requires a repairman to get fixed if it glitches out. The moving parts of the electronic, motorized screen can also wear out over time while the permanently framed screen should last a lot longer.
In a Nutshell
There is a wide range of projector screen products available on the Internet and standard retail that ensure you of the best visual experience possible. If you want to be immersed by what you’re watching or playing, getting the right screen is a must.
However, in terms of electric vs. fixed projector screens, it’s more about whether you want the convenience of having a screen you can put or store away through a motor or if you instead don’t mind hanging what amounts to a large blank picture frame on your wall so that you can “turn it on” and project movies and whatnot with supreme comfort and ease. A motorized screen allows you to use that wall space for other things but it can get quite expensive. A fixed frame screen is cheaper but takes up a lot of space even when not in use.
- “Motorized Screens vs Fixed-Frame Screens“, Lumina Projection Screens, March 30, 2019
- “Project Screens – What You Need to Know About Types, Sizes, and Setup of Projector Screens“, 24/7 Projector Plaza Blog, December 20, 2017