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Hello all,

I am hoping to tap into your experience for guidance about a projector screen purchase. I am building a dedicated home theater in my basement, which should be a near-completely light controlled environment (walls painted dark burgundy, furniture and fixtures all dark burgundy/black, and only 1 window with a black-out shade.)

I own a Panasonic PT-AE8000U projector, which will be ceiling mounted 15 feet from a 119” diagonal screen. Based on real-world performance reviews, I think this projector will generate about 620 lumens on its “best” mode: Rec-709. I think this should create an image brightness of about 14.8 ft-Lamberts on a 1.0 gain screen in my darkened theater.

I am concerned that 14.8 ft-Lamberts does not provide much wiggle room for adding in ambient light (I would prefer to have side sconces dimly lit while watching some movies), or in case of projector lamp fading over time.
My goals are like everybody else, I guess: to have an acceptably bright image with good color saturation and the deepest blacks possible.

My question is: in order to increase the image brightness a bit, would it be better to use a matte white screen with a brighter picture mode on my projector, or to purchase a higher-gain screen from the beginning, such as a 1.3 – 1.4 gain screen. I have at least 2 brighter modes to choose from on my projector (up to around 1800 lumens on “dynamic” mode,) but my understanding is that increasing projector brightness will lead to more washed out blacks and inaccurate colors as well. I have already experienced the “dynamic” mode projected onto sample screen swatches, and the blacks were definitely washed out in a pitch-black basement.

Would using a higher gain screen allow more wiggle room for image brightness while maintaining deep blacks, or does increasing screen gain lead to washed out blacks as well? My seating will be in a relatively narrow viewing cone, so I think the narrower viewing angle of a higher-gain screen would not be a problem.

My frustration with this screen selection process is that I have no local dealers to demo various screen types, and of course demos would not apply directly in my particular room, but I don’t want to make a bad decision about a screen. I’m hoping you all can use your real-world experience to guide me.

Of course, it also occurred to me that maybe any of the above options would look excellent for a non-videophile movie lover such as me, and maybe I’m overthinking this.

Thanks in advance for your help!
 

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I have the AE4000 and use a fixed 120" screen. I play the Wii often on it with my wall sconces turned on full and have no issues viewing it and the image still looks great even after almost 600hrs on the bulb. I dont think you have anything to worry about with the 8000 being even brighter than mine.
 

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I have the AE4000 and use a fixed 120" screen. I play the Wii often on it with my wall sconces turned on full and have no issues viewing it and the image still looks great even after almost 600hrs on the bulb. I dont think you have anything to worry about with the 8000 being even brighter than mine.
+1 - I have the AE-7000 and I am mounted 15.5' from a 105" screen - no issues at all for me either. I am using a DIY screen with C&S Ultra which has a gain of approximately .9.

I actually went through the video calibration process and started from the Cinema 1 mode - this mode was closest to a true neutral setting.
 

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I have an AE2000 projector and although "Dynamic" picture mode gets more brightness, I don't think I'd ever use it since it's excessively contrasty and imparts a garish look to the image. I use it with a 95 inch screen at about 12 feet, but I chose the DaLite High Power fabric which delivers a brilliant picture. It's an ultra-fine beaded screen which has the up-side of a high gain, but still is excellent at holding fine picture details without showing any grain. It has the added advantage of rejecting some light from the side so would be an advantage with ambient lighting like you mentioned.

On the downside, it is directional and provides the brightest image on axis with the projector, but isn't as directional as some beaded screens. It's also pretty intolerant of cleaning. I've had some bugs land on it and get squashed when I roll it up. It takes a lot of care to clean them off. If it isn't done carefully, the gain of the cleaned area is slightly lowered and shows a bit when there's an all white screen. Worst case, if the beaded area is chipped, it leaves what looks like a black speck relative to the unaffected areas.

I really like it and you might be interested, particularly if you use the 3D features of your projector which drop projector brightness more than half, but otherwise as previous posters have mentioned, the AE series of projectors are pretty bright, and you should be happy with most screen choices.
 
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