Projectors & AV  
Home Contact Us Links
Home > Projector screens > Screen types

  Screen Types


There are various different screen types available and which one is best for you depends on your application and needs.

Screen types

Before we go into more details, here are the different types you may encounter:

Some of these screens are designed to be used on the move while others are for permanent installations on a wall or ceiling.
Some screens have specialist applications such as shop window signage or to be concealed inside ceilings or furniture etc.

Ultra Portable screens

Ultra portable screen  

Ultra portable screens are usually used on a table top and are ideal for sales representatives on the move. They are lightweight and compact making them easy to carry around.

Sizes tend to be between 40" and 50" diagonal (80-110cm wide).

Tripod screens

Tripod screens are possibly the most recognised screens.

They can be used for portable applications by sales representatives, trainers etc. or in offices and classrooms where it's not possible to use a permanent installation.
They can be stored easily and are failry inexpensive which makes them a popular choice.


Tripod screen

Portable pull up screens

Portable pull up screen  

Portable pull up screens are a more modern and lightweight alternative to a tripod screen.

The screen fabric is fully contained inside a case. When in use the case is placed on the floor and the fabric is pull up from it to reveal the viewing area.

There are two types of portable screens:

  • Portable screens with pole
  • Portable screens with scissor action

The screens with poles are usually cheaper but less durable while the screens with scissor action are considered higher quality.

  Pull up screen with scissor action   Pull up screen with pole

Scissor action



Fast fold / Folding screens

Fast fold screens, as the name suggests, are screens that can be folded up for storage or transport.
The fabric and metal frame are folded and stored in a carry case and when needed the frame is quickly assembled and the fabric attached to it to form a large projection screen.

Fast fold screen

Fast fold screens are used for larger sizes when tripods or portable screens aren't available.

The other advantage of fast fold screens is that they are available with a choice of front and/or rear projection fabric. You can usually buy one or the other or both fabric types to suit different applications without having to buy a new frame which can be more cost effective.

Fixed frame screens

Fixed frame screen  

Fixed frame screens are designed for permanent installations.

The fabric is taut inside a frame, similar to a picture frame and is always on view.
Because the fabric is taut on all sides, it is perfectly flat; it will not curl or develop waves. This makes fixed frame screens very popular for dedicated home cinema rooms or high end applications.

Additionally the black surround frames the image creating sharp edges and increasing the perceived image contrast.

Manual screens

Manual screens are usually wall mounted although some models can be ceiling mounted too.
The fabric is pulled down and retracted manually.

They are available in various sizes and formats and they are the most affordable type of screen, making them popular in home, offices, schools or anywhere else using a projection system.


Manual projector screen

Electric screens

Electric projection screen  

Like the manual screen version, electric screens are usually wall mounted but some models can be ceiling mounted.

On electric screens, the fabric is rolled down and retracted at the touch of a wall mounted switch or using a remote control.
The switch or remote control activates the screen motor to roll the fabric down or retract it.

The majority of projection screens need to be wired to a power outlet. This usually requires a professional installer.
However a few plug and play models are available. They come ready with a power plug to be plugged into an existing power outlet.

Electric screens are more expensive than manual ones but they are more durable because the fabric isn't pulled.

Tab-tensioned screens

Tab-tensioned screens are essentially electric screens; the difference is that tab-tensioned screens have a tensioning system to keep the fabric taut.

They are more expensive than standard electric screens but they are more durable as the fabric remains taut even after years of use.


Tab tensioned screen

Ceiling recessed screens

Ceiling recessed screen  

Ceiling recessed screens are concealed inside a ceiling so when the screen is not in use, it's out of view completely, including the case. When required, the screen is operated electrically and comes down through a small gap (or trap door) in the ceiling.

Recessed screens are often used in boardrooms, high end home cinemas or anywhere where the room design is important and shouldn't be "spoilt" by a projector screen case.

It is ideal to have a recessed screen that was purposely designed for this type of application. But some manufacturers offer ceiling recessed kits that allow you to mount a standard electric screen inside a ceiling which can be more cost effective.

Specialist screens

The types of screens discussed above are just the main types and most common screens, but there are more specialist screens available designed for specific applications.

Rigid rear projection screen  

Rigid rear projection screens

These rigid screens are made of a special acrylic measuring a few millimeters in thickness.
They are designed to be used in shop windows and similar applications requiring high brightness and high contrast.
When these screens are used with a hanging kit, the image looks like it's floating in the air. They are ideal for digital signage.

Rising screen  

Rising screens

Rising screens are electrically operated and they "rise" out of their case.
Some rising screens are basically electric versions of the portable pull up screens.
High end rising screens are concealed inside the floor or a piece of furniture so they are not in full view when not in use.

Here is an example called Raptor by Elite Screens

Stage screen  

Stage / Theatre screens

These screens are designed to be flown or suspended on a stage as a back drop for shows, concerts, theatre etc.
They are designed to be easily and quickly assembled and dismantled before and after a show.

Multi format screen  

Multi-format screens

Standard projection screens come in a set format, whether it is square (1:1), AV format (4:3), Widescreen format (16:9 or 16:10) etc.

For people who need more choice, there are multi-format screens where different formats are housed in the same screen case. The user then selects the format to use for a given application.

Curved screen  

Curved screens

Curved screens have so far been a specialist type found in cinemas and theatres, but some manufacturers have started to produce models available to businesses or home cinema users.

They allow for a bright image without hot-spot, they improve the perceived contrast and eliminate distortions. They also make the viewers feel like they are "in" the movie because the image wraps around their periphery.

Inflatable screen  

Inflatable outdoor screens

For large outdoor projection, the ideal solution is an inflatable screen. Most are weatherproof and very large yet stable screens can be setup very quickly.

Here is an example by Airscreen