An ALR or Ambient Light Rejecting Screen, as the name would suggest, is a type of screen that reflects ambient light away while maximizing whatever brightness your projector has by reflecting back its projection light to the audience, making the resulting image as bright and sharp as the one you’d see on an LCD or HDTV screen. It’s the ambient light killer of a screen that solves one of the most common setbacks of using a projector to view your TV shows and DVD/BD movies.
There are many brands that make ALR screens, chief among them Carl’s Place and CineGrey. So which is better when it comes to Carl’s ALR vs CineGrey 5d? To be more specific, is it Elite Screens Designer Cut Series ALR Projector Screen Material ZRM-135HW-CINEGREY5D or Carl’s DIY ALR Ambient Light Rejecting Projector Screen Material?
Carl’s ALR Pros and Cons
Carl’s ALR, also known as Carl’s DIY ALR Ambient Light Rejecting Projector Screen Material, is a product that delivers a role of ALR material that you can stretch over a tension-mounted fixed frame in order to give you a screen that safeguards your projection from ambient light while at the same time reflecting what light the projector has back to the audience. It offers the following pros and cons:
- Affordable Pre-Cut Material: You can custom-design your projection screen using affordably priced pre-cut material from Carl’s ALR screen material. The product comes in multiple pre-cut sizes that are all available in affordable sizes. Among the most popular of them is the 135-inch diagonal cut that’s mostly used in settings such as sports bars, home cinemas, conference rooms, media rooms, school classrooms, and so forth. It’s cut for your convenience and made with dependable ALR material that doesn’t wear down easily.
- ALR Properties: Although not all ALR screen materials are made equal, they’re all supposed to share features such as reflecting away ambient light while refocusing projector light back to the audience in order to produce an effect similar to a TV set with its own self-lit image even though what you’re seeing is still a projection that can fade away in the presence of other light sources. It’s the best solution you can get when you have no control over the ambient light in your room or area. If you can’t turn off the lights, use ALR to make your projection remain visible.
- Multiple Lighting Options and Mounting Choices: Carl’s ALR screen material can handle moderately lit, low, or dark environments. It also ensures topnotch projection of 4K Ultra HD/HDR quality images, 3D images, HD or 1080p images, vibrant color, and high contrast since it’s also a grey/gray screen material instead of a black or white one. It’s highly recommended for use indoors with a tension-mounted fixed frame to ensure the best possible results, although you can use it on other applications and screen mounting types as long as you know what you’re doing or your installer does.
- Smooth Texture: Unlike Elite Screens CineGrey, Carl’s ALR screen material is much more resilient and less prone to cracks. Its smooth surface provides crisp, clear, and sharp projections that are perfect for rendering 1080p HD or 4K Ultra HD (maybe even 8K Ultra HD in the future, when projectors are capable of something so high quality) images. It also translates perfectly HDR images because it’s both Ultra HD and HDR-ready. It’s even fully compatible with both Passive and Active 3D thanks to its maximum polarization levels that make it a must-buy among projector enthusiasts.
- 1.5 Gain and Contrast Superior to Fellow Carl’s Screens: The Carl’s DIY ALR Projector Screen Material also has unique features you can’t find from other ALR screen materials, such as its extra high gain of 1.5 to ensure vivid color and contrast. Contrast is what you need to keep an image from looking faded, muddy, or blurry in color terms since it’s not only ambient light that restricts the starkness or sharpness of what you’re looking at. This grey screen material has 4 times the contrast of Carl’s Blackout Cloth and 3 times the contrast of Carl’s FlexiWhite.
- A Do-It-Yourself Screen with a Large Viewing Cone: The most obvious detriment to Carl’s ALR screen material that’s also present in CineGrey is that they’re both screen material instead of ready-made screens. The reason for this is that they can get quite expensive as ready-made ALR screens, such that the companies have released the option to have them available as rolls of ALR screen material that you or a professional company can turn into a screen through a fixed frame or roll-up frame, among other options. Regardless, it’s an industry-grade ALR that reflects 76 percent of ambient light with a viewing cone or seating angle of 80 degrees or 40 degrees on the left and the right.
CineGrey’s Pros and Cons
As for the Elite Screens Designer Cut Series CINEGREY 5D, it’s a worthy competitor against Carl’s DIY ALR Ambient Light Rejecting Projector Screen Material in more ways than one. For example, it’s ISF-certified as a true ALR-capable screen, while Carl’s ALR isn’t. It’s also a raw 135-inch projector screen material that can handle 4K Ultra HD or even 8K (in case a projector becomes capable of such). It’s also cheaper than Carl’s Place ALR. With that said, here are its pros and cons.
- A Decent Overall Assembled Size: Once you go about assembling the CineGrey5D on a tension-mounted fixed frame, it has a decent size of 68 inches in height and 120 inches in width. It’s about the size of a decently large HDTV but you won’t have to pay thousands of dollars for it. Like Carl’s DIY ALR Projector Screen Material, the CineGrey5D is 4K Ultra HD, Active 3D, and HDR ready. They’re also available as pre-cut materials for custom-sized DIY and architectural projects or a simple projector screen installation on a tension-mounted fixed frame where you stretch the material out over the frame like with artist canvas.
- CineGrey Specs: The Elite Screens CineGrey5D specifically offers multi-layered PVC material with ALR properties at a 160-degree viewing angle. It’s lightly textured and fully black-backed to ensure that the light doesn’t penetrate through it or end up lost. It maximizes projector reflection back to the audience and ambient light reflection elsewhere away from the audience, thus ensuring a bright and sharp projection when all is said and done. It also enhances black levels and minimizes color loss even from low-brightness or low-contrast projectors. CineWhite is the projection screen material of choice for projectors with a higher than 2000:1 contrast ratio, though.
- ISF-Certified To Be World-Class Material: Customer complaints about a handful of products having shipping/storage damage aside, the Elite Screens Designer Cut Series CINEGREY5D products are for the most considered world-class, industry-grade, and high-end screen material certified by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF). To be more specific, the majority of the CineGrey5D products that are undamaged have the highest marks in terms of quality manufacturing and ALR properties. They’re all shipped as tubular rolls to prevent creasing. They also use standards aspect ratios or can be customized by whatever aspect ratio you want to use instead.
- Multi-Layer PVC: The affordability of Elite Screens Designer Cut Series CINEGREY5D roots from its use of multi-layered polyvinyl chloride or PVC. PVC is the world’s 3rd most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer. About 40 million tons of PVCs are produced annually, making it readily available for use by companies like Elite Screens. Although the quality control complaints against CineGrey 5D might root from its use of PVC, they’re low in percentage and you’re likelier to get savings instead of damaged goods from the company. Besides, this is a returnable product in case you do get shipping or storage creases from your CineGrey.
- What Makes CineGrey Material Unique? Both products offer high-contrast front projection screen material. The things that make the Elite Screens CineGrey5D unique compared to its Carl’s Place counterpart include the following. It uses propriety CineGrey material that’s more affordable per inch than the Carl’s Place ALR screen (cost-effectiveness notwithstanding). Every ALR property offered by Carl’s DIY ALR screen is available with the CineGrey5D option. It also offers unique benefits like a 160-degree viewing angle and 1.0 gain on multi-layer PVC (although Carl’s offers 1.5 gain instead). It also minimizes color loss from low-contrast LCD or DLP projectors.
- Smaller Viewing Cone and Quality Control Complaints: The main complaint that the Elite Screens Designer Cut Series CINEGREY5D got was that it had too small of a viewing cone compared to the 80 degrees viewing cone of the Carl’s DIY ALR Ambient Light Rejecting Projector Screen Material. This despite claims of having a 160-degree viewing angle. Another reason why CineGrey5D doesn’t have as high a rating as its Carl’s Place counterpart is because of quality control. Some customers rated it 1 to 3 out of 5 stars due to the presence of small geometric creases when you unroll it, which doesn’t help in ensuring the fidelity of the projection when push comes to shove.
When All Is Said and Done
Although CineGrey does have many pros that outweigh its cons, it’s no coincidence that across the board, CineGrey 5D products are rated lower by consumers compared to Carl’s ALR screen. Sure, both are ALR screen material used for 16:9 aspect ratio HD widescreen videos, with CineGrey being ISF-certified to boot while Carl’s is known for its Active 3D support and 1.5 gain. However, even though both screens are 4K Ultra HD ready and used for front projection, Carl’s gets higher ratings because it’s the more cost-effective choice.
Carl’s gray cut cloth that requires setup allows many DIY homeowners to apply it in every which way, while CineGrey5D gets more complaints from having a small viewable cone and small geometric creases when you unroll it. Carl’s DIY Ambient Light Rejecting Projector Screen Material is more resilient and cent-for-cent more cost-effective than its CineGrey competitor.
- “What is ALR?“, Stewart Filmscreen, Retrieved March 26, 2020
- “Carl’s DIY ALR Ambient Light Rejecting Projector Screen Material“, Amazon.com, Retrieved March 24, 2020
- “Elite Screens Designer Cut Series ALR Projector Screen Material ZRM-135HW-CINEGREY5D“, Amazon.com, Retrieved March 27, 2020