Sony introduces black projector screen for well-lit up areas

Posted by Seán Byrne

When Thomas Edison first invented the projector over 100 years back, the setup consisted of a reel-to-reel projector and a white screen.  In the 1970’s the TV projector came out consisting of large cathode-ray tubes, then small lightweight LCD projectors in the 1990’s and now DLP projectors promising high brightness & high contrast-ratio pictures.  However no matter how much projector technology has changed, they all suffered one major drawback – very poor contrast and colour rendering in a brightly lit room.


One attempt to solve the problem was the introduction of gray screens to reduce reflected ambient light.  While gray screens became very popular, these tended to result in reduced brightness.  Now Sony has developed a black screen that works on defiance of colour theory, by reflecting only pure red, green and blue light and absorbing other colours of light including ambient light from fluorescent tubes, light bulbs and other sources of light.  Since digital projectors produce pictures using only a combination of red, green and blue light, the result is a high contrast vivid picture where blacks look ‘blacker’ and colours look more realistic in a well-lit room much like that from a conventional white screen in a dark room. 


Sony done a
presentation at the Infocomm trade show inAtlanta and the setup attracted more people than any other technology there.  So far Sony has not decided on pricing or shipping dates. Sony’s black screen should work with all digital chip projectors that build the picture using red, green and blue light. 

In TV technology, everything is changing fast. Fat tubes are being replaced by flat screens, square screens by movie-style rectangles and standard pictures by high definition.

And now, white projection screens are being challenged by dark ones.

In apparent defiance of color theory — that dark surfaces absorb light and white surfaces reflect it — Sony Corp. has unveiled a black screen that allows a regular digital projector to vividly display TV images and business presentations in a brightly lit room. It continues a trend that began two years ago when Stewart Filmscreen Corp., a leading U.S. maker of screens, began selling a light-gray screen that enhanced the images from projectors using digital chips.

Tokyo-based Sony showed a 160-inch-diagonal version of the screen last week at the Infocomm trade show in Atlanta, after showing 80- and 100-inch versions in a living-room mockup at an industry conference in Seattle three weeks ago. At both events, it made a splash.

“No other technology attracted so many people to stand around and look at it and say ‘Wow,’ ” Richard Doherty of Seaford, N.Y., consultants Envisioneering Group, says of the Seattle demonstration.

Sony hasn’t decided when to begin selling the screen, how to price it, where to sell it first or whether to let other manufacturers use the technology. Sony has both commercial and consumer versions of the screen in the works.

Read the full article here.


For a long time, I could not figure out why large projection screen systems never took off as well as the more expensive plasma and LCD TV’s.  It was not until later when I ran my own projector setup that I realised how much of a problem ambient light is.  For example, a black image projected on a white screen does not look like black at all in a lit up room and colour images look very washed out in a bright room.  However, close the shades and cover the window with a think blanket and suddenly the picture becomes really impressive once again. 


It looks like once Sony’s projector black screen launches, it will give digital projectors competitive advantages over other big screen TV’s on lower initial cost, less bulky and massive screen sizes.  As consumers are just beginning to change over to HDTV sets to take advantage of broadcasts and upcoming HD optical media, this would be best time to overcome the major ambient light issue of projectors before the majority have switched over to another type of HDTV set.


Feel free to discuss about large screen TV, HDTV and HD optical media on our Satellite, HD-TV, Blu-ray and HD-DVD Forum.  For some advice on choosing a big screen for the perfect home cinema, check out this thread.

Source: The Wall Street Journal