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Screen Innovations Black Diamond II Review

October 7, 2009 By David Birch-Jones

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Screen Innovations Black Diamond II

Leave the lights on

If you’re considering a front projection system for your home theater but don’t have a dedicated light-controlled environment to put it in, you may want to check out one of the new high-contrast screens like Screen Innovations Black Diamond II.

Using a special screen design, these screens minimize ambiant light while still giving you a bright and punchy projected image.

With older generation high gain screens, light was reflected from the projector back into the room with a very narrow viewing angle. Think of the lenses in a light house, focusing the light into a narrow beam. This means that viewers sitting off to the side saw a washed-out picture with very poor contrast. Viewers in the narrow window area also saw significant hot-spotting—the center of the screen was noticeably brighter than the edges.

Screen Innovations’ Black Diamond high contrast screens aim to solve these problems, with a multi-layer optical system that provides a high contrast screen with a wider viewing angle than high gain screens have typically been known for.

The latest Black Diamond II material builds on the performance of its predecessor, with improvements in contrast and uniformity as well as being offered in two gain choices: 0.8 and the 1.4-gain screen tested here. The half-gain viewing angle (the point at which light output from the screen drops to 50 percent of on-center) is a fairly wide 88 degrees.

I previously tested the first Black Diamond screen, and I was very impressed at its ability to deliver a colorful and punchy picture even in high ambient lighting. This latest Black Diamond II high-gain material provides even more contrast in high-light situations, and it has less scatter than traditional screen types (around 75 percent or so, according to Screen Innovations). That characteristic helps keep contrast high, even in low ambient light situations (like evening viewing), by reducing the amount of light bouncing around the room and back onto the screen.

I opened all the blinds and shades in my theater room on a very sunny Palm Springs day (There are days that aren't sunny in Palm Springs?—G.M.), and propped the Black Diamond II screen next to my Stewart Firehawk G3 screen, which allowed me to do a side-by-side comparison.

Compared to the conventional Stewart screen material, which was predictably more washed out with all the ambient light in the room, the Black Diamond II offered much more visible contrast and a punchy, colorful picture that looked just great. Screen Innovations notes that compared to the first-generation material, the Black Diamond II is also more color neutral, with less “push” in the blue range, and a gray ramp test pattern confirmed the screen’s overall color neutrality.

Fixed frame versions are offered now, either flat or curved. A motorized roll-down version in the works.

Black Diamond II: Varies with size, $2,499.00 (100–inch, 16:9 diagonal fixed frame)

CONTACT: 512.832.6136, screeninnovations.com

 Screen Innovations Black Diamond II


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