Ultra short throw projectors are the hottest thing in the world of immersive home entertainment. Before, if you wanted that encompassing big screen experience you needed a dedicated home theater in a darkened room. Now thanks to ultra short throw projectors (aka laser TVs) you can create the ultimate home theater in any room of your house.
For a detailed look at some of the best 4K ultra short throw (UST) projectors currently available, we’ve put together an updated list that you can find here.
But if you want to get the most out of your 4K UST projector and replace your tiny living room television — a plain white wall just isn’t going to cut it. You need to pair your laser TV with an ultra short throw projector screen.
With the help of the experts at ProjectorScreen.com, we’ve assembled a list of the best ultra short throw projector screens to bring your TV and movie watching experience to the pinnacle of cinematic immersion.
What is an ultra short throw projector screen?
An ultra short throw projection screen is one that is specially built to pair with a laser TV.
Because ultra short throw projectors typically have fixed focal lengths you need to move the entire projector further from the screen to make a larger image. This limits the size image they can project to around 130 inches. Nobody is going to sneeze at a 130-inch 16:9 ALR screen but that’s the current practical limit.
Most of the UST screens available are between 100 – 120″ in size.
Most UST screens also have a fixed frame but there are a few motorized ones as well.
These screens have features you won’t find on a regular cinema screen that allow them to pair perfectly with an ultra short throw projector.
Ambient Light Rejecting
The main difference between a regular screen and a UST projector screen is that a laser TV screen has an ambient light rejecting surface that uses angular reflection. The surface of the screen essentially has rows of tiny ridges that reflect the light coming from the projector below while reflecting light coming from other sources, away from the viewer.
This ambient light rejecting property allows projectors to work beautifully even in rooms with a significant amount of light only adding to their value in the home.
If you watch the NFL on a Sunday afternoon or your kids want to play video games (not all UST projectors are created equal when it comes to gaming so far) with their friends during the day, an ALR screen is the way to go.
Lower Screen Gain
Ultra short throw cinema screens also typically have lower screen gain. Screen gain is a measurement of the reflectivity of the surface. The higher the gain the more light that gets reflected back to the viewer. The lower the gain, the more light that gets absorbed by the screen.
You might think on a laser TV screen that you would want to have a higher screen gain because that would give you a brighter image. In fact, lower gain is better because it further reduces the impact of ambient light hitting the screen.
The lower screen gain also helps eliminate hot-spots caused by the projector shining so brightly so close to the display surface.
Do I need an ultra short throw projector screen?
Many people think you can project the image from your laser TV on a plain white wall and expect a 4K quality image. While technically you can project an image using a UST on any surface, the picture quality degrades significantly without a specialized screen. If you want the true 4K UHD movie experience, especially in your well-lit living room, you need to use a specifically designed ultra short throw projector screen.
So what are your options? A number of manufacturers have decided to include entry-level ALR screens as part of a bundle and while that’s a great place to start, the quality of those screens is not going to allow you to maximize the performance capabilities of your 4K UST Projector.
Best Ultra Short Throw Screen
Stewart Filmscreen Balon Edge BALG3E100HUSTFLX Fixed Frame
Brand: Stewart Filmscreen
Screen Size: 100” – 120”
Screen Type: Fixed Frame
We chose this Stewart Balon Edge fixed frame because it is built with the absolute best UST projection surface currently available; Stewart’s BlackHawk UST. This ambient light rejecting display surface uses a lenticular structure to redirect overhead light while still providing the maximum return of projector light to the viewer.
The Blackhawk UST surface features a wide viewing angle, enhanced center-to-edge uniformity, superb contrast preservation, and excellent color accuracy. A projector screen with the BlackHawk UST surface from Stewart doesn’t just support 4K resolution but also a 8K and 16K projected image. This means you’re futureproofing your investment as the projection industry produces more and more advanced technology.
The Balon Edge Series features an elegant slender black frame that compliments the aesthetics of any living room. A simple design makes it easy to assemble. You can even get this screen with an optional LED backlighting kit to make your screen pop even more.
Where to buy: $4,967 at ProjectorScreen.com
Best Fixed Frame UST Screen
Screen Innovations Zero Edge Pro Short Throw – ZPT100ST
Brand: Screen Innovations
Screen Size: 80” – 120”
Screen Type: Fixed Frame
This Screen Innovations Zero Edge Pro is our recommendation for the best fixed frame laser TV screen because it does an excellent job of merging style and performance making it perfect as a part of a living room television replacement.
This ultra short throw screen surface features a microscopic downward louvre facing structure which means that it rejects above and even direct ambient light while only accepting light from directly below where your projector is located. Screen Innnovation’s laser TV surface accurately reproduces bright, colorful images, and maintains the contrast of the projector. The result is an over 700% increase in contrast compared to matte white screen materials.
With a 170 degree viewing cone, content on the screen is viewable even from extreme off axis positions. This screen is available in both 16:9 and 16:10 widescreen formats, making it perfect for commercial, family rooms and everything in-between.
What really separates the Zero Edge Pro from other laser TV screens is the customization. You have the option of three different borders. This fixed frame screen also has an option LED backlighting kit to make the screen really pop. Best of all, you can select from a number of frame colors to match the style of the room.
The Stewart BlackHawk UST screen gets the title of “best” because the Screen Innovations ultra short throw cinema screen only provides up to 8K resolution; that might seem like a weird way to judge it considering how far we are from 8K UST Projectors becoming a viable consumer product but Stewart has created a screen that might be considered state-of-the-art until the end of the decade.
Where to buy: $2,999 at ProjectorScreen.com
Best Motorized UST Screen
Screen Innovations Solo Pro 2 Short Throw SPT100ST
Brand: Screen Innovations
Screen Size: 80” – 100”
Screen Type: Electric
Sometimes you don’t have enough wall space for a gigantic projector screen or maybe you want to protect the screen surface when it’s not in use. That’s where a retractable UST projector screen comes in handy. These Screen Innovation display surfaces retract and descend from the casing as needed. The housing can be mounted to either the ceiling or the wall giving you placement versatility. Like the Zero Edge Pro, the casing on the UST Solo Pro 2 screens can be customized with a variety of fun colors to match any decor.
The electric motor is powered by either a rechargeable lithium battery or low voltage connection. No electrician needed.
Also like the Zero Edge Pro, this SI motorized ultra short throw projector screen is built with the Screen Innovations’ Short Throw projection surface. It does a great job of rejecting ambient light, has a wide viewing angle and provides your projected image with vivid accurate colors and perceived contrast.
It’s available in both 16:9 and 16:10 formats so it’s a great choice for both living rooms and conference rooms.
The only downside to this screen is that it is limited to a maximum screen size of 100”.
Where to buy: $5,973 at ProjectorScreen.com
Best Affordable Laser TV Screen
Screen Size: 90” – 120”
Screen Type: Fixed Frame
Grandview is the least well known screen manufacturer on this list, but what they lack in name recognition they make up for in value.
The Grandview Dynamique provides deep black levels, high contrast, excellent color saturation, and a wide 140 degree viewing angle. Like the other screens on this list, the surface features ambient light rejecting properties and pairs perfectly with any laser TV.
The Dynamique supports up to a 4K resolution image, so if you’re the type who likes to get the newest technology we’d recommend going with a UST projector screen that supports 8K or 16K to futureproof your investment.
The biggest knock on this lower priced ultra short throw projector screen is that it can be somewhat challenging to assemble. But once you have it put together the image quality is outstanding.
Where to buy: $1,099 at ProjectorScreen.com