Let’s face it. Most projection screens are boring. They consist of a flat white
(or gray or silver) surface, which has a sole purpose of reflecting light from
the magic maker (the projector). While absolutely important, they’re not, as
the marketing people would say, “sexy.” Screens that don’t lay flat on a wall
are designed to roll up and out of the way, invisible until needed.
In the simplest install, Screen Innovations’ Zero Edge hangs slightly off the wall, just as a flat-panel TV would.
Not so with the Black Diamond Zero Edge from
Screen Innovations. Here we have a screen created
to add something to a room. It’s a screen with a
simple, yet clever, design that actually inspires you
to show it off, like a stylish new flat panel, rather
than hide it away.
That’s probably the comparison that fits best,
one of a flat panel. Indeed, Screen Innovations
clearly was going for a flat-panel aesthetic, with
a thin black bezel around a dark screen. The
unknowing may walk into a room with the Zero
Edge and ask what type of “TV” it is.
The installation encourages this illusion. In
the simplest install, the Zero Edge hangs slightly
off the wall, just as a flat-panel TV would. Being
a rigid screen, once you drill the two wall mounts
into studs, you hang the Zero Edge like a painting.
Done. My 92-inch review sample was light enough
that I could do this myself, though SI explicitly
recommends two people. Chalk this up to the huge
muscles I have thanks to sitting at a desk and typing
all day. Or not.
Two other install options are possible. The Zero
Edge can be mounted flush with a wall. The other,
even more high-tech option, is hanging it from the
ceiling so it appears to float in the air. Regardless
of its location, one thing to keep in mind when
mounting the screen is the location of the projector.
Zero Edge, like most screens today, is
angular reflective, so if the projector
is mounted above your head, the
brightest image will be roughly
where you’re sitting. If the projector
is on a shelf behind you, the brightest
image may be best seen by your feet.
The Zero Edge comes in three
screen gains: 0.8, 1.4, and 2.7. Most
new projectors have a pretty decent
black level and contrast ratio, so
“negative gain” screens like a 0.8
in my mind only serve to limit max
screen size. They’re also quite bright, so 2.7 seems excessive to me, but I could
see its use in a bright room or really large screen.
I found the 1.4 of my review sample to offer lots of additional punch
over my reference 1.0 gain screen. However, like all higher gain screens,
there are two drawbacks: hotspotting/uniformity, and sparkle. The center
of the screen is visibly brighter than the edges. This is especially noticeable
in outside scenes where there’s a lot of sky. Sparkle is, well, a sparkly
texture to bright images. I’ve seen far worse (namely, any RPTV), but it’s
worth noting. To be honest, I found both of these aspects to be reasonable
given the coolness of Zero Edge overall.
The biggest benefit, beyond the cool design, is the Black Diamond
material, essentially a black surface with a reflective quality. The idea is to
focus the light from the projector,
while rejecting or absorbing light
from other sources (like room
lighting). Of course, having the
lights on in the room degraded
the picture, but to far less an
extent than my normal white
screen. Opening the curtains in
my theater, a terrifying view of the
real world momentarily paralyzed
me. Also, sunlight entered. On my
1.0-gain screen you could sort of
make out the brightest parts of the
image, though most was left to the
imagination. On the Zero Edge,
there was an actual image. The darkest parts of the picture were still washed
out, but it was watchable. That’s pretty impressive for projection.
For an extra $499, you can equip your Zero Edge with LED lighting that
resides in the metal frame mount. These LEDs aim outward, adding color to
your wall, or some classy indirect white lighting. A handy remote lets you dial
in an exact amount of red, green, or blue for whatever color you want. The
“white” preset is a bit bluish for my tastes, but a bit of fiddling got a warm
color temp that I saved as one of the seven presets. There’s also music mode
that pulses to whatever audio it hears.
With any screen designed for use in a room, with the lights on, and to
look good even when the projector is off, there are going to be compromises.
If your goal is perfect picture projection, well I bet you stopped reading
paragraphs ago. The goal of the Zero Edge is to provide the ability to add a
projector into a real-world room, supplanting a tiny flat-panel for a massive
screen, and to look stylish doing it. Viewed with that perspective, the Zero
Edge is a fantastically cool product.
Clever flat-panel aesthetic
adds a bit of style potential
to a traditionally boring
product category. Usable
with the lights on.
Adds a bit of sparkle to
bright images. Brightness
uniformity is inconsistent.
• A vailable in 0.8, 1.4, and
2.7 gain configurations
• Up to 115-inch (16:9) or
144-inch diagonal (2.35:1)
• Mountable on-wall, inwall
or hung from ceiling
• Black Diamond material
rejects some ambient
• Optional LED Backlighting