CE Pro Hands On: Stewart Phantom HALR Screen Redefines Video Projection
One of the biggest drivers of home theater’s resurgence has been the advent of ambient light rejecting projection screens (ALR). Helping to grow a new era of large-screen A/V systems, these products enable integrators to install projection systems into rooms that contain ambient light.
Entering the ALR category well after it became established, Stewart Filmscreen , has not too long ago introduced its Phantom HALR screen product to ramp up the competition within the product category.
Designed for a variety of residential and commercial conditions, the Phantom HALR addresses many of the weaknesses of existing ALR screens to provide integrators with a high performance ambient light rejecting screen solution.
Features & Setup
Phantom HALR is a flexible screen material that can be used by integrators for just about any projection system installation that includes perforated material applications.
Stewart states the material is future-proof to handle resolutions greater than 16K, and because of its color uniformity integrators can calibrate to specs ranging from REC 709 to REC 2020 without the fear of color shifting.
The 1.0-gain material is available in sizes as large as 40 feet by 90 feet, and Stewart specifies half gain at 30 degrees.
Citing its ambient light rejection properties, Stewart states the Phantom HALR’s ambient light reflected rating is 18 percent, and its ambient light rejected rating is 82 percent.
Coming over to check on my installation of the Epson 6040 projector Jeff Paiva, training manager, Epson stopped by my house to also help me with the setup of the screen.
After pulling the Phantom HALR parts from the singular box they were packed in, Paiva explained to me how easy it is to assemble a Stewart screen. Following Stewart’s instructions we fitted the frame together by connecting D1 to D2, etc.
The screws to fasten the frame together aligned perfectly to allow us to quickly assemble the Phantom HALR frame. Placing the frame face down, we then centered the screen on the frame and rolled the screen material out. Using Stewart’s secure snaps, we snapped the center of the material on the top and bottom before snapping the four corners in. Making sure the screen was tight and even we then finished snapping the material into place.
With the screen assembled, we removed my old screen from the wall and mounted the wall mounting brackets, verifying the installation with a level. Finishing the installation we then lifted the screen up, we made sure it was properly centered, and hung the screen into place.
In total I estimate it took approximately 60 minutes to unpack, assemble, hang and clean up the Phantom HALR installation.
Performance & Conclusions
Using three different projectors with the Phantom HALR—an entry level Optoma, Epson’s popular 6040ub 3LCD 4K projector and Optoma’s new laser-based UHZ65 DLP-based 4K projector—I found the screen to consistently deliver quality images.
Most of my review time was spent with the Epson unit, and what I found was its rated brightness capabilities, rich images and 4K compatibility allowed me to watch TV, movies and streaming content with the lights on and off.
Doing my best to induce color shift I threw a variety of test patterns from the Avia Pro test kit at the screen and found the screen to meet the challenge.
I also watched a mix of 1080p and 4K HDR content, including broadcast, streaming and UltraHD Blu-ray discs and found the screen to consistently pair with the projectors to produce excellent images.
A couple of content highlights with the screen include watching the second season of Stranger Things with the Epson projector, which I found to look as good as anyone could expect from a streaming source, and watching 4K Blu rays such as the Harry Potter franchise with the Optoma UHZ65.
Throughout my evaluation of the screen it delivered smooth contrast with test patterns and real world content with good deep blacks, and good white brightness. I also thought that colors look vibrant too. The screen delivers a well-balanced image. Obviously a screen like the HALR, which is designed for contrast fidelity in ambient light situations sacrifices a bit top-end white brightness, but that is true of any gray screen or ALR material.
The most amazing thing to me with the Epson and Optoma projectors, both of which produce good overall brightness levels is that with the lights in my room fully on the screen is able to maintain a nice image. So unlike many products that litter the electronics landscape, Stewart’s Phantom HALR meets its marketing hype.
Perhaps the one area of the screen’s performance to keep an eye on is a hint of sparkle on a few bright snowy backdrops in shows like Game of Thrones , but it was minor.
Concluding the year I annually roundup my favorite products from the past 12 months. This year I chose my favorite dozen products and I chose the Phantom HALR as my product of the year.
I chose the Phantom HALR as my product of the year because I think integrators that serve both the commercial and residential markets could use this single material to serve just about every projection installation they encounter. Stewart offers the material in perforated versions and custom sizes and aspect ratios to reinforce the Phantom’s versatility.
Moreover, I think the Phantom HALR redefines the projection screen market by providing dealers a solution that breaks the rules of projection video by allowing integrators to maintain quality images in a variety of room environments. By enabling this dealers can make their clients happy and grow their projection system installations by installing projection systems in environments that in years past would require televisions.
It’s a major feat of engineering and I believe integrators will definitely benefit from the problem solving and performance capabilities the Phantom HALR screen brings to the market.
- Available in sizes up to 40 feet by 90 feet
- 1.0 gain rating
- Calibrates to standards that include REC 2020 and REC 709
- Half gain rating of 30 degrees, non-directional
- Ambient light reflected 18 percent, ambient light rejected 82 percent
- Available in a choice of Microperf THX X2 Ultra or Cinemaperf
CE Pro Verdict
- Reference image quality for a variety of environments
- Maintains image quality with ambient light present
- No detectable color shift
- This isn’t a criticism, but be cognizant the Phantom HALR does mute peak whites due to the nature of its technology
- I did notice some white sparkle with higher lumen projectors, but it’s minimal at best
MSRPs varying depending on the configuration
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