ISE 2011: The art of projector screens

More news from the ‘sad-but-true’ department: despite the burgeoning popularity of home cinema projectors, consumers don’t pay anything like as much attention to the screen they’re projecting onto as they do to all the other aspects of their home cinema system.

That’s emphatically not the case where projector manufacturers are concerned. In the second half of 2010, Japanese giants Panasonic, Sony, Mitsubishi and JVC all demonstrated their latest projectors to consumers, retailers and distributors in Asia – and each company chose an OS Screen product to help make its projectors look their best.

Although OS was founded in 1953, and has enjoyed copious success in Japan (where it has 30% of the market share), Hong Kong (a healthy 50% plus) and Asia in general, its most recent attempt to make inroads into the European market began just four years ago.

There have been successes in that time – most notably in Germany – but the UK has proved a tricky nut to crack. With its 2011 model range, OS Screen is planning to turn that situation around.

Those who feel it’s possible to get the best from their projector by simply nailing a sheet to the wall (and you know who you are) will be flabbergasted by the level of technological know-how OS Screen has brought to bear on its current line up.

There are the various configurations, of course: fixed screens, manual roll-up screens and motorised screens (for that James Bond bachelor-pad vibe).

But the material of the screen itself is critical – for rooms where projector position is less than ideal, the company’s ‘white mat’ screen offers the widest possible angle of reflection (though it demands a dark-ish room and a bright-ish projector). Alternatively, something called ‘pure mat II EX’ overcomes the need for a very bright source by reflecting as much light as is possible – its high-gain is claimed to deliver excellent black depth and contrast.

Some cineastes will require an acoustic screen, of course, to allow speakers to be positioned behind it. OS Screen’s ‘sound mat’ is not only acoustically transparent but has been awarded an ECO mark by the notoriously difficult to please Japan Environment Association, thanks to its use of recycled material and its absence of vinyl chloride.

And where 3D is concerned (particularly the inherent dimness of 3D images), the company is ready with ‘OS silver’, where a silver coating is applied to the surface of the screen to offer class-leading reflectivity.

In short, OS Screen feels it has the know-how and the product range to make as big an impression in Europe as it has in the Far East. And if that’s enough to make people think twice before projecting onto the nearest bit of flat wall, well, that’s good enough for us.

Simon Lucas is a freelance technology journalist and consultant, with particular emphasis on the audio/video aspects of home entertainment. Before embracing the carefree life of the freelancer, he was editor of What Hi-Fi? – since then, he's written for titles such as GQ, Metro, The Guardian and Stuff, among many others.