Now that I live and work in a decidedly smaller media market than New York, I’m not often privy to product demonstrations outside of trade shows. Fortunately, there are a surprising number of CEDIA channel manufacturers in the Midwest, even specifically in Indiana, where I live.
One such company is Da-Lite Screen Co., a Warsaw, Indiana, manufacturer with strong dealer relationships in the Indianapolis market. Last week, I had the good fortune to receive a first-hand demo of the new JKP Affinity Screen from Da-Lite at Premier Custom Audio & Video, which is only five minutes from my office.
On hand at the Premier demo were Da-Lite’s VP of home theater sales Dan Drook, formerly of SIM2 and Da-Lite before that, Premier’s system designer Ken Irvine, sales rep Don St. Peters, and calibration professional Ken Whitcomb, who had previously calibrated my own Runco projector (small world!) a year ago.
As a refresher, it was announced at CEDIA time that Da-Lite and HD expert and consultant Joe Kane had entered into a strategic partnership to design, develop, and manufacture “HD” projection screens for the home theater and film production markets.
The project was the brainchild of Kane, who was inspired by a new generation of projector optics that had made most traditional projection screens obsolete. In the original press, one such projector cited as an example was the new SP-A800B from Samsung, which was developed with the assistance of JKP. After helping develop that projector, Kane found no existing screen could properly display the detail or uniformity of the image being produced by the projector.
According to Drook, Da-Lite was the first manufacturer to answer Kane’s challenge to find a solution that would let the professional broadcast community as well as the home theater viewer experience the exceptional performance of the new Samsung HD technology. The collaboration between Da-Lite and Joe Kane Productions resulted in a screen material (produced in Da-Lite’s Kettering, Ohio, manufacturing plan) that features low gain (0.9) for an incredibly wide viewing angle and an image uniformity not seen prior to this combination of products.
In my demo, a pure white light was projected on the screen and I noted that it was completely free of any dark spots or variations. Because the screen surface lacks texture, details between lines also were not blurred on test patterns and video sequences from Kill Bill and Dark Knight. I noticed not only sharper details, but also no artifacts or sparkling effects from the finer lines.
Da-Lite is only offering the JKP Affinity Screen about 250-300 select dealers. These are integration firms that are properly trained only the finer qualities of two-piece projection and have some way of demonstrating the screen’s special attributes. Apparently the screen is popular even among non-Da-Lite dealers, so expect the program to expand, where territories permit.
I was thoroughly impressed with my demo, and would have love to seen an even large screen than the theater we were in would permit. Joe Kane has found that an eight-foot screen is the ideal size for 0.9 gain, though the material used on the JKP Affinity Screen can potentially be used on as large as a 12-foot fixed frame. All sizes are in 16×9 aspect ratio in a fixed frame, so a masking kit would need to be added for Cinemascope (2.35:1). And although the screen is specifically designed for 1080p resolution, images projected from 720p still look good on it, according to Drook.