Projector System Help!
September 19, 2012 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Can you please offer insight into my projector system? I have questions with regards to projectors, screens, and installation.

Hello dearest hive mind, I need some help. I am planning to install a projector system in my commercial bar but I am lost in a myriad of details.

First and foremost, I'm on a budget. Secondly, this isn't a home theater, and I can't black out the room - I am dealing with some serious ambient light.

Projector: I am thinking to purchase the Dell 4320 projector because of its high (4,300) lumen output. I am hoping this will counteract some of the ambient light, and it's reasonably priced. Thoughts?

Screen: What level of gain do you think I should pursue? I was thinking perhaps the Da-Lite High Power manual screen with 2.4 gain, though I also wonder if this will be too much. Thoughts?

Installation: I am planning to mount this on the ceiling, but the Dell 4320 does not have the vertical shift feature. What height should I mount the projector relative to the top of the screen?

posted by masters2010 to Technology (7 answers total)
How big a screen area will this have? Would a 60" or 70" 1080p LED TV do the job better?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:56 PM on September 19, 2012

The screen area will be 92" diagonally. I prefer the projector screen for the size, aesthetics, and distinctiveness. I like that I can roll up the screen and have something underneath when there isn't anything playing rather than leaving a giant television on the wall. It's also cheaper. In other words, I really want a projector, though in reality a TV might be better?
posted by masters2010 at 10:11 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

A TV will almost certainly give you a significantly better picture if you have ambient light. But you really have several competing factors here:

1. Picture quality (TV wins)
2. Size (Projector wins - Sharp has a 90" LCD, but it's very expensive and not that great)
3. Cost (Projector wins)
4. Removability (Projector wins)
5. Aesthetics, distinctiveness, etc. (your call)

The thing is, no matter how big, cheap or distinctive it is, a really washed out (from ambient light) projector image just isn't much fun to watch. So even though the projector wins on most of those factors, and absolute top-notch picture quality isn't a priority, I'm not convinced that a TV might not be the way to go here. However, I don't have experience with that projector, and I don't know how much light you have coming in, so maybe it's not a big deal.

Another site you might ask about this on is It's home theater focused, and I'm sure you'd get a lot of people steering you to higher-end and more expensive stuff than you want or need. But there are also some people who are working on a budget in non-ideal spaces, so you might get some good input if you're willing to filter out the other stuff.
posted by primethyme at 11:38 PM on September 19, 2012

No matter how nice and bright your projector is and how awesome your screen is, if there is significant ambient light then all dark colors will wash out.
posted by MonsieurBon at 12:04 AM on September 20, 2012

Contrary to intuition, a darker screen will help in high ambient light situations. A 2.4 gain white screen with a 4300lm projector is going to give you insane whites, but the blacks will be no blacker than an almost perfectly white wall (the screen) in your space.

You should seek a grey screen, one designed specifically for high ambient situations, possibly painting it on the wall yourself. (See as one vendor offering a product like this.)

While a grey screen will dim your whites, that's not at issue: you want darker blacks for best contrast. In a bright room, a bright projector on a grey screen will produce a superior picture to a bright projector on a white screen.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:00 AM on September 20, 2012

Seconding the gray screen if you can't control the ambient light. Remember that the projector will only add light, so it can't display anything more black than however dark the screen is when the projector's off.

High-gain screens will have a visible hotspot of direct reflection from the projector. The higher the gain the more pronounced this is. They're also directional, so if you view them from the side they look dimmer. This is fine in a conference room where everyone will be sitting within a fairly narrow cone, but would likely be a problem in a bar where people will be sitting all over.

The Dell 4320 looks fine. You'll want to mount it more or less level with the top of the screen. You don't need vertical shift - you can tilt the projector up and down if you need to, and use keystone adjustment to get a square image, although of course you'll lose some sharpness.

Make sure you get a universal mount rather than one made only for that model, because it's a pain to have to redo the whole mounting system if you need to replace the projector.
posted by echo target at 9:01 AM on September 20, 2012

If I get a high contrast grey screen what gain should I look for? I found the elite wall mounted 92" 16:9 CineGrey high contrast grey screen, though it only has 1.1 gain. Should I try to find a grey screen with higher gain, or would this be good when paired with a high output projector (~4000 lumens)?
posted by masters2010 at 11:48 AM on September 20, 2012

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