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Select Dalite Screens

Da-Lite offers a wide array of screens each with a choice of projection surfaces. Selecting the right combination to meet your needs is important for optimum results.
The following offer guidelines for selecting a screen that suits your application. Although these recommendations will work in most situations, each must be looked at not as a strict rule, but rather as a guideline for determining your actual needs based on your own situation.

Four Steps to Selecting the Right Screen

  • Determine the optimum screen size based on room dimensions, planned audience seating size and arrangement. The rule of thumb is to fit the screen to the audience - not to the projector.
  • Da-Lite recommends the following formula for determining screen size for commercial and educational applications.
  • Screen height should be approximately equal to 1/6 the distance from the screen to the last row of seats, allowing text to be read and detail to be seen in the projected image. Ideally, the first row of seats should be approximately two screen heights away.
  • The bottom of the screen should be a minimum of 4 feet above the audience floor, allowing those seated toward the rear of the audience to see the screen. This may require additional screen "drop" for ceiling hung screens.
  • Da-Lite recommends the following formula for determining screen size for home theater applications:
  • Screen height should be approximately equal to 1/4 the distance from the screen to the last row of seats. Ideally, the first row of seats should be approximately two screen heights away.
  • The bottom of the screen should be a minimum of 2 feet above the audience floor. This may require additional screen "drop" for ceiling hung screens.
  • Select the appropriate format for your projection application. Common formats are as follows:

    Common Applications

    Aspect Ratio

    NTSC Video

    1.33:1 or 4:3

    PAL Video

    1.33:1 or 4:3

    Wide Format

    1.60:1 or 16:10

    HDTV Video

    1.78:1 or 16:9

    Letterbox Video


    35 MM Filmstrip


    2x2 Standard 35MM Double-Frame Slides


    Super XGA Computer





    ·  Choose the screen surface that best suits your projection and viewing requirements. For your convenience, links for front and rear surfaces can be found at the top of this page. If the screen will be used for multiple projection methods, choose the screen surface that meets the requirements of the lesser performing projection method.

    ·  Pick the type of screen that best suits your particular needs. For example, choose from front projection screens in either portable, wall or ceiling mounted models in either manual or electric versions or rear projection screens. Generally, if your projection application is permanent, then wall and ceiling screens are your best choice. If, however, you find your needs require moving the screen to different locations then a portable screen is a better alternative.

    How to Calculate a Custom Screen Size
    Use the following formulas to calculate a custom size. The formulas will assist you in finding the viewing area only.

    NTSC (1.33 or 4:3)

    HDTV (1.78 or 16:9)

    Letterbox (1.85)

    Video Format

    Video Format

    Video Format

    Diagonal/1.667 = Height

    Diagonal x 0.49091 = Height

    Diagonal x 0.4762 = Height

    Height x 1.33 = Width

    Diagonal x 0.87247 = Width

    Diagonal x 0.88 = Width

    Width/1.33 = Height

    Height x 2.0395 = Diagonal

    Height x 2.10 = Diagonal

    Height x 1.667 = Diagonal

    Width x 1.14585 = Diagonal

    Width x 1.135 = Diagonal


    Height x 1.78 = Width

    Height x 1.85 = Width


    Width x 0.561837 = Height

    Width x 0.5405 = Height


    Cinemascope (2.35)

    16:10 Wide (1.60)

    SXGA (1.25)

    Video Format

    Video Format

    Video Format

    Diagonal x 0.3916 = Height

    Diagonal x 0.530 = Height

    Diagonal x 0.625 = Height

    Diagonal x 0.9209 = Width

    Diagonal x 0.848 = Width

    Diagonal x 0.78125 = Width

    Height x 2.554 = Diagonal

    Height x 1.887 = Diagonal

    Height x 1.60 = Diagonal

    Width x 1.0868 = Diagonal

    Width x 1.1.79 = Diagonal

    Width x 1.28 = Diagonal

    Height x 2.35 = Width

    Height x 1.6 = Width

    Height x 1.25 = Width

    Width x 0.4255 = Height

    Width x 0.625 = Height

    Width x 0.80 = Height


    Screen Borders and Drop
    Black masking borders are standard on most Da-Lite front projection screens at no extra charge. Borders enhance the perceived brightness of an image on a screen. The human eye perceives the image to have more contrast and a sharper picture with brighter colors. Borders also allow the projected image to "bleed-off" the screen for professional appearing presentations.
    Drop is also available on most Da-Lite wall, ceiling and electric screens. Drop is extra fabric added to the top or bottom of the screen to adjust the screen surface to within normal viewing heights. Drop can be specified in either black or white.


    Although the thought of choosing the right front projection fabric may seem intimidating, it's actually a straightforward process. Please read the instruction here step by step.  Refer to the section on screen fabric descriptions for further definition of screen fabrics and their properties. Also, consult the glossary for terms commonly used when discussing projection screens and uses in this manual.


    Home Theater/Entertainment

    This growing application brings the realism of the "cinema" home. You'll find a wide spectrum involved in this application from video enthusiasts who build dedicated home theater rooms to movie fans that convert their living rooms or dens into mini-theaters.

    Consider these characteristics and problems typically found in Home Theater applications:

    Home Theater Characteristics

    ·         Typically this application uses some type of video projection but could include some slide projection. Popular today are LCD and DLP projectors combined with surround sound audio equipment.

    ·         The application objective is to attain the highest degree of visual and audio realism. The desire is to make the audio-video experience as close as possible to the feeling experienced at a modern-day cinema.

    Special Problems or Situations

    Typically, you'll find most home theaters have one or more of the following problems.

    ·         Lighting conditions may not always be controllable. For example, windows, skylights and entry ways can allow stray or direct light into the room, negatively affecting image quality.

    ·         Screen surface could be easily soiled or damaged by children, pets, etc.

    ·         May require wide or narrow angle of view depending on room configuration.

    ·         Screen surface must remain taut to maintain resolution and eliminate disturbing shadows when projecting with video devices like LCD, DLP and CRT based video projectors.

    ·         Could possibly require a variety of projection aspect ratios i.e. HDTV, letterbox, standard broadcast television.


    Da-Lite Screen has identified seven basic criteria for selecting the right screen surface. Each criteria is designed to provide characteristics a screen must possess to meet the application's objectives as discussed earlier in this manual.

    These Presentation Media criteria are as follows:

    Criteria #1 - Projection Method
    Floor Pull Up Screen: A screen built in a carry case. Usually has a back up system to support the screen when pulled up from the case. The most popular systems are scissor-arm system and telescope-type system. The scissor-arm system provides an easier set-up: just pull the screen to the desire height; the scissor-arm system will automatically support the screen at that height. When presentation finished, just press the screen back into its carry case. The telescope-type system has a supporting telescope on the back, it has to be set up and adjust to the desired height first, then hang the screen on the telescope. Floor Pull Up Screen occupied much smaller space than tripod. The screen is also better protected in the carry case than Tripod screen, which usually carried without any protection. Its price, however, is usually higher than those of tripod screen.
    Criteria #2 - Ambient Light Conditions

    Part A - Determine whether or not light conditions are controllable to minimize ambient light when needed
    -Controlled light assures no substantial stray light is allowed to enter the room that would increase ambient light levels to a point where the projected image is affected.

    Part B - Determine if uncontrolled light is directed at the screen causing the projected image to "washout".
    An example is uncontrolled light from sources such as ceiling lights directed on to the surface of the screen.

    Criteria #3- Display Brightness

    Use the following simple formula to determine the brightness (in foot-lamberts) of your display.

    Criteria #4- Room Configuration/Size

    Determine if the seating area will require audience members to view the projected image from a narrow (Figure 1) versus a wider (Figure 2) angle of more than 30 degrees from either side of the center of the screen. If the room configuration (i.e. is more wide than deep) forces audience members to view the projected image from an angle greater than 30 degrees, a screen fabric providing a greater viewing angle is required.



    Criteria #5- Projected Image Make-up

    Determine if the projected image is one or more of the following:

    a) Conventional video images - Generally speaking this is an image that does not contain very fine detail, so resolution is not as critical.

    b) Continuous tone images - Found in all slide film projection methods. Provides the best image in terms of resolution and color reproduction.

    c) Digital or pixelized data with fine detail, (i.e. textual information as found in LCD and DLP video projection devices) require higher resolution to project characters with clarity.

    Criteria #6- Projector Placement

    Determine if the projector will be placed perpendicular to screen center.

    Whenever the projector and the audience are on opposite sides of the normal and require a higher gain screen, use a screen that is reflective. (Figure 1). Whenever the projector and the audience are on the same side of the normal and require a higher gain, use a screen that is retro-reflective. (Figure 2).

    Criteria #7- Screen Maintenance

    Potential soiling or damage from inadvertent or constant handling. Typical situations are in high traffic areas where people may accidentally touch the screen surface or in public or educational settings where the screen surface could be abused. Potential soiling can happen in settings where there is a problem with airborne debris and dust.