Carada Screen Review: An Installer's Perspective
Throughout the past 15 years or so I have installed just about every type of front projection system including CRT, DLP, LCD, DILA in my home theater, custom home theaters, and commercial installations. I have used and installed screens from every manufacturer, ranging from the esoteric do-it-yourself, to top-of-the-line exotic self-masking models. I recently had the urge or nudge from my significant other to update our personal home theater system (currently a work in progress located in our family room). This system gets used more often than our other dedicated home theater, but has had the least amount of attention and has remained unfinished for the past year. As I started to ponder how to do the least amount of work and satisfy my wife's need for the change, I decided to change the screen I was using. After that, I will frame out the front wall to conceal the speakers and box in the screen.
After reading comments here at Audioholics and various other websites, I was intrigued by a fairly new screen company called Carada. After viewing their web site at www.carada.com , I decided to find out more information about their Criterion Series with Brilliant White screen. This is their top of the line fixed wall mount screen.
I was interested in this model because the specifications looked very similar to the screen I have in my dedicated home theater, but it costs less than half the price. I called Carada and talked to David Giles. We had a long conversation about various screen materials, projectors and our installation experiences throughout the years. I could tell by this conversation that David was passionate about manufacturing screens and his involvement in the home theater industry
I decided to order the Carada 92" diagonal (45x80) 16:9 Criterion Brilliant White screen. This screen is priced at $690.30. A few days later my new Carada screen arrived at my doorstep. Upon opening the box, I found that the screen packing from the Carada manufacturing facility was excellent. I have opened many screen boxes from various manufacturers and this is the best packing I have seen.
The box contained four sections of the frame, the screen material, one bag of screws, and installation instructions. The Carada Criterion screens all come with Black Hole trim; this is a velvet material that not only looks nice but it also helps absorb reflected light on the frame. To protect this finish while assembling the screen, I placed a bed sheet on the floor. It is also highly recommended to have clean hands or wear white cotton gloves to protect the finish while handling the screen and frame.
As I carefully removed the frame pieces from their individual plastic bags and started to assemble them, I noticed that the frame was beautifully manufactured. Each piece of the frame went together with precision; there was no gap at the miter where the frame pieces meet each other. I have not seen this type of precision and quality of craftsmanship even from the mega dollar manufacturers. I was astonished at how nice this frame was given the price. The assembly of the frame was easy and straightforward. The instructions are easy to read. All that is required is a Phillips screwdriver or low torque screw gun.
The next step is to install the mounting brackets. A laser line level will aid in the process but a conventional level will also work. Mount the top bracket level at least half an inch below any obstructions.
Chances are you are not going to hit studs when mounting the brackets, use the anchors pictured here to secure the bracket to the sheet rock. They are available at any hardware store and are rated to hold 35-50 pounds each. They are self-tapping anchors, but a small pilot hole will aid in their installation. Hold the upper bracket along the level line that you drew on the wall and mark the holes for the anchor installation.
Here the Upper bracket is installed on the wall level and centered. Install the lower bracket in the same manner and you are done with the mounting hardware.
Proceeding with the installation, I picked up the assembled frame and attached it to the upper bracket. Using a tape measure, I made sure the screen was perfectly centered on my wall. Make sure you have dry clean hands or wear clean cotton gloves when handling the screen frame as to not soil the velvet finish.
I marked the entire inside frame area on the wall with a pencil and carefully removed the screen frame from the wall. When installing a fixed screen, I have always either painted the area behind the screen flat black or used black indoor/outdoor carpet or black fabric behind the screen material. This helps minimize and absorb the light that is bounced back off light colored walls behind screen material.
I prefer to use the inexpensive black indoor/outdoor carpet available at many home improvement stores. It is easy to install. All you need to do is cut it to the inside dimensions of the screen frame and staple it to the wall that you previously marked out with the screen frame temporarily installed. Just make sure that the black material is stapled tightly to the wall so it does not touch the screen material.
Moving along, I carefully removed the screen material from its plastic bag but leaving it on the roll it was shipped in. With the screen lying with the back facing up, I placed the screen material at the top of the screen and began snapping the screen material to the frame carefully unrolling it a little at a time. If you do it this way you will reduce the risk of scratching the Brilliant White material. It will take a little effort to snap the screen material to the frame because it has to stretch, just alternate from side to side a couple of snaps at a time.
Then do the top and then the bottom. As I inspected the material, I noticed
that the material was of high quality. It is very uniform and the fit onto the screen frame was
All that's left to do is hang the screen. I did this installation myself with no assistance, but I have installed many screens. This fixed screen was by far the easiest I have ever installed. For the last step of the installation, it may be wise to have an assistant to help you.
Carefully pick up the screen. The screen material is now fixed to the frame facing outward. Note: if you wear glasses, have big buttons on your shirt, or you are wearing jewelry take care not to scratch the screen material or let dirty hands come in contact with it. New white cotton gloves are very cheap and handy when handling your new screen.
Lift the top of the screen over the top bracket and make sure it is seated in
the gap on the back of the frame.
Now center the frame on the wall and the upper bracket. Light
tapping on the side of the frame will move the screen in either direction. Now that the screen is
centered, pull down with light pressure on the bottom of the screen and attach the bottom bracket. The
screen should now be tightly fixed to your wall check for level and center and you are done. The
installation process took me about 1-1/2 hours to complete. This was by far the easiest fixed frame
screen I have installed. The directions are easy to understand and follow.
Now that I had the Carada Screen installed, I was able to give it a very close examination. The screen frame is absolutely marvelous. Its wide contoured frame is elegant and the mitered corners are cut so precise and assembled so tightly there is no visible seam. The Black Hole velvet coating is classy. The screen hanging on the wall even with no image projected on its surface looks like a fine piece of art.
I called my wife into our family room to get her reaction after the installation was complete. Her comments were, "Wow that looks gorgeous." Of course the next thing she said was, "how much did you spend on that?" Smiling the whole time, I told her. The next comment was, "You're kidding!" That rarely happens to the home theater enthusiast. I savored the moment wishing I had recorded the conversation for future reference.
As darkness fell, I began evaluating how the Carada Criterion Brilliant White screen material performed with the various projectors I had available. The first projector I used was the Infocus 4805 DLP projector. This is a very bright, high contrast DLP projector with a native 16:9 resolution of 854x480. I immediately noticed the colors were very vibrant and the images had depth and clarity. As I moved around the room I also saw that the Carada screen had a very wide practical viewing angle of about 35 degrees per side. This means that if you have seating that is off-axis from the center, you and your guests will still be treated to a nice, undegraded image.
The Infocus 4805 is a very bright projector. It is conservatively rated at 700 ANSI lumens and that specification is factory calibrated to near D65k. This, coupled with the Carada Criterion Brilliant White screen which yields 1.4 gain, gave me incredible vibrancy. The black level, however, was a little high and gray looking. Installing a natural density filter to the Infocus 4805 or any other high ANSI lumen projector and recalibration will rectify this problem and provide you with inky blacks, saturated colors, and very bright images. You also benefit by being able to remove the filter as your lamp ages to maintain brightness. Many installers are suggesting gray screens with moderately high ANSI lumen projectors. I don't like this approach as the image on these gray screens looks dreary and dull. This effect becomes more apparent as the lamp ages.
If you have a home theater that has total light control and have a true light canon projector like the Infocus 7210 DLP, DC-3 or Sanyo PLV 70 LCD, the gray screen might be the way to go. However, for most applications and projectors, a white screen should be the primary consideration. Many will disagree with what I have just said. This is my opinion based on the installations I have completed over the years and the information that I have compiled experimenting with different screens including gray, pink, silver and white. I always come back to the white screen of various gains.
The next projector I wanted to try was my old workhorse, the Sony 400Q LCD. This is a relatively low ANSI lumen projector with low contrast ratio. It is also a native 16:9 projector. I wanted to see how the Carada Brilliant White screen would handle this projector with its meager specifications. The old 400Q looked absolutely fabulous on this screen. The image was very saturated and bright. Even when I turned on the lights in the family room the image was watchable. The Carada Brilliant White screen would be an excellent choice for those of you that have any of the 1280x720 LCD projectors like the Panasonic AE-700, Sanyo Z-3, Hitachi TX-100 or any other high performance LCD projector.
The last projector I tried was the Sharp DT-200. This is a moderately bright DLP projector with average contrast ratio or 1000:1 The main reason for selecting this projector for evaluation is due to the fact that it is an 800x600 projector with a 16:9 mode. When projecting, using the 16:9 mode there is light spill on the top and bottom of the screen. I wanted to see how well the black hole material on the Carada Criterion screen would absorb the extra light spill from the 4:3 panel projecting onto a 16:9 screen. I am very pleased to say that the extra light projected onto the frame of the screen was completely absorbed by the Black Hole material on the frame and only a small trace was noted above and below the screen frame projecting on the wall surface. This means that those of you having native 4:3 projectors can effectively use your projector on the Carada Criterion screen without having the extra light generated by the 4:3 panel effect the viewing experience.
As you can tell by my more than glowing review of the Carada Brilliant white screen, I was thoroughly happy with my purchase. Everything, from the customer service of the company, to the way the packing was performed, to the excellent build quality of the Screen and high level of performance generated by the Screen, have me smiling from ear to ear. The Carada Criterion series screens have to be one of the best values in home theater display products. I would have no problems recommending this screen for the client that has either an entry-level projector or a mega dollar projector. This screen would be a very good choice for CRT, DLP, LCD and DILA projectors. The Brilliant White material should be considered unless you have a super high ANSI lumen projector. The Carada Criterion's elegant design, excellent fit and finish, and ease of installation make this an easy recommendation. Now all that is left for me to do is to sell my reference screen in my dedicated home theater and order another Carada Criterion. Highly Recommended 5+ stars!
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Recent Forum Posts:
Well, the OP is no longer here. BMX has a good point, of course.
If you can have an in person look of the condition, $80 is not a lot to gamble with.
You can't get replacement fabric anymore, so be sure to check it out first.
Grump, post: 265452Most people view front projection in a light controlled room, in those cases high contrast grey does nothing to help. If you have a new projector, then it is rarely necessary to go with grey screens. I have a grey screen with my fairly low contrast Panasonic PT-L300U and I have compared it to a white 1.1 gain screen - if I had my way (I don't) I would use a 1.4 gain screen instead of grey. I think brilliant white is appropriate for about 90% of installations… or more.
So you wouldn't recommend the high contrast grey? I thought that would be better to get deeper blacks. And these screens, I would have to put it together myself right, how easy is it to assemble?
As for assembly, it takes about 2 hours to assemble and hang. Just go to the hardware store and pick up a stud finder and some EZ wall anchors.
I hung a 160" screen last Saturday and it took a little over 2 hours to do it myself. That's one big ol' screen I was hangin'!