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Best Home Theater - Review of Projector Screen Control Options

Updated on December 20, 2011
Elite Screens - Spectrum Series, AR 16:9   image credit: amazon
Elite Screens - Spectrum Series, AR 16:9 image credit: amazon

Home theater has been made more affordable than ever with lower-priced HDTVs, digital projectors, and drop-down motorized projection screens.

Add to your enjoyment of home theater with a screen control option that fits your own comfort zone.

This hub reviews the pros and cons of 6 different control options -- but first, it summarizes the variety of options that are available from screen manufacturers, such as Elite Screens.

Home Theater with Digital Projector and Screen

Let's suppose you are interested in setting up home theater using a digital projector and a screen. The advantage of this setup as compared to an HDTV is that you can enjoy a bigger screen with the feeling and ambiance of a theater.

Suppose that you do not have a spare room to devote to your home theater. With creative planning you can add home theater to your family room or lounge.

For a multi-purpose room like a family room, you'll need a screen that will retract away and be concealed when not in use. One option is a fixed frame screen mounted on a wall and covered with curtains.

Or you can use a drop-down motorized screen that retracts out of sight when not in use. Years ago the price of a motorized projector screen for home use was almost prohibitive . Today however there are very affordable screens for home use that are excellent in quality.

Elite Retractible Motorized Projector Screens

Here are three Elite motorized projector seres suitable for home theater:

Elite Screens Spectrum, 100-inch Diag 16:9, Electric Motorized 4K/8K Ready Drop Down Projector Screen, ELECTRIC100H
Elite Screens Spectrum, 100-inch Diag 16:9, Electric Motorized 4K/8K Ready Drop Down Projector Screen, ELECTRIC100H

The Elite Spectrum screen comes in a durable metal casing for ceiling and wall mounting, fully assembled with 3-prong power cord and ready to plug and play.


Elite Spectrum CONTROLS

  • IR remote control (standard)
  • detachable wired 3-way switch (standard)
  • RF remote control (optional extra)
  • extended IR remote receiver for use where the screen is concealed by curtains or by retracting into ceiling (standard)
  • in-wall 2-way wired toggle switch (optional extra)
  • wired or wireless low voltage triggers for synchronizing with digital projector (optional extra)
  • universal learning remote to control all audio-visual equipment (optional extra)

Elite Spectrum.

The Spectrum is Elite's Economy line of retractable motorized screens features.

  • viewing angle: 160 degrees (excellent for home theater)
  • black mask outlining reflective surface frames image for theater-like viewing
  • synchronous built-in motor for smooth operation (slower than the tubular motor used in VMAX2 and HOME2)
  • reflective surface: MaxWhite -- Gain: 1.1 (10% more light reflected compared to standardized white surface).

MaxWhile is a textured surface for a wide viewing angle, precision definition, color and black and white contrast.

It has a black backing to prevent light penetration, and it can be cleaned with mild soap and water.

VMAX2 Series. A step above the Elite Spectrum economy line of screens is the VMAX2 Enhanced line.

Like the Specturm, it features the MaxWhite screen surface, a synchronous motor, and a black or white steel casing.

What makes it different is that it includes RF and well as IR remote control devices.

Elite VMAX2 Control Options

VMAX2 is Elite's Enhanced line of motorized projectors.

  • IR and RF remote control s(standard)
  • detachable wired 3-way switch (standard)
  • extended IR remote sensor for use where the screen is concealed by curtains or by retracting into ceiling (standard)
  • in-wall 2-way toggle switch (optional extra)
  • wired or wireless low voltage triggers for synchronizing with digital projector (optional extra)
  • universal learning remote to control all audio-visual equipment (optional extra)


  • IR and RF remotes (standard)
  • extended IR remote sensor for use where the screen is concealed by curtains or by retracting into ceiling (standard)
  • in-wall 3-way switch (optional extra)
  • wired or wireless low voltage trigger for synchronizing with digital projector (optional extra)
  • universal learning remote to control all audio-visual equipment (optional extra)

Elite HOME2.

A step above both the Spectrum and the VMAX2 is Elite's Premium HOME2 line of projector screens.

The screen surface is MaxWhite FG (fiberglass), It features a special fiberglass backing, provides uniform flatness over the reflective surface.

The casing is white lacquered aluminum (prevents rust) with black end caps.

Instead of a synchronous motor, the HOME2 comes with a tubular motor, for better weight control, faster drop-down rate and longer life.

The standard HOME2 package comes both IR and RF remote control.

What makes the HOME2 different from the VMAX2 is the premium fiberglass backing and the tubular motor.

Review of Elite Projector Screen Control Options

Elite motorized screens comewith three built in control options -- IR (infra-red), RF (radio frequency) and a cabled option. Elite offers a wide choice of control options with optional control devices available as accessory packages for separate purchase.

If you have a home automation network (HAN) you have still other other control options, such as remote control via web-enabled smartphone. This is not an Elite control -- although you need to link your HAN to the Elite receivers.

Here are pros and cons for each control option

Motorized screen control option 1: IR (infra-red)

  • Reliability. IR controls have been used for over twenty five years and are considered quite reliable. Most TV remotes operate on IR.
  • Line of sight. IR uses pulses of IR light, so there must be a line of sight between the remote and the sensor on the projector screen. If your sensor is covered by curtains, or if there is interference from other bright lights or sunlight, the IR remote may not perform reliably.
  • Effective distance. The effective distance for the Elite IR remote is no more than 30 feet.
  • Interference. An advantage of the IR remote is that possible RF (radio frequency) interference is not a problem.
  • Wires to conceal. There are no wires to run.
  • Cost. An IR remote control is the least expensive option since it comes standard with the economy Elite Spectrum package.

Motorized screen control option 2: RF (radio frequency)

  • Reliability. The RF remote controller is similar to a garage door opener. It has been in use for some time and is generally reliable.
  • Line of sight. RF does not depend on line of sight.
  • Effective distance. The Elite RF remote control is effective up to 100 feet.
  • Interference. Since it is radio frequency it is subject to interference.
  • Wires to conceal. Like IR, there are no wires to conceal.
  • Cost. The RF remote comes standard with the more expensive VMAX2 and HOME2 projection screens.

Motorized Screen Control Option 3: cable option -- wall switch

A detachable 3-way switch module comes with each Elite screen. Push one button and the screen will drop down. Another button will roll the screen back into its housing. A third button stops the movement of the screen.

Elite also offers for separate purchase wired, in-wall, 2-way toggle switch.

  • Reliability. Separate wired connection assures reliability.
  • Line of sight. Not a factor.
  • Effective distance. Not a factor.
  • Interference. Minimal.
  • Wires to conceal. Could be time consuming.
  • Cost. Requires purchase of cable, labor and materials for retrofit.

Motorized screen control option 4: Synchornize with Projector

Some digital projectors have an synchronization outlet so that you can lower the screen by simultaneously when you turn the projector on.

If your projector has this feature and it is compatible with Elite screens, Elite offers two connection options:

  1. Wired connection This setup requires a separately purchased Ethernet-like (RJ-45 plug) cable that you connect from the RJ-45 outlet on the screen to the projector.
  2. Wireless connection. Connect his device to your projector and it sends wireless signals to your screen.

Motorized screen control option 5: Universal Remote Control

If you have a universal IR remote control you can program it to control Elite's motorized screens. The Elite's remote control codes are available in the manuals.

If you don't already have a universal remote, Elite offers one that can control up to 8 different devices in your home entertainment system -- including the projector screen.

Smarthome 2411T IRLinc Transmitter - INSTEON to IR Converter | image credit: Smarthome
Smarthome 2411T IRLinc Transmitter - INSTEON to IR Converter | image credit: Smarthome

Motorized screen control option 6: HAN (home automation network)

If you have discovered the convenience, safety and fun of home automation, you may want to control your projector screen from your HAN using your web-enabled smartphone.

Insteon home automation is easy, affordable and modular -- you only purchase the modules you need for a particular application. You can expand your setup as you are ready.

You'll need an Insteon-IR converter such as the 2411T IRLinc pictured here. It comes with two tiny IR transmitter links that you attach to the IR receiver on the projection screen. Plug the converter into a nearby unswitched wall outlet. (Insteon works by sending signals on your existing house electric wiring, and on a designated radio frequency. That dual-band mode of synchronous communication makes Insteon a reliable and flexible home automation network.)

Link the IRLinc and the IR receiver on the projector screen with the proper codes following instructions that come with both products.

Once you've connected your screen to your web-enabled Insteon home automation network, you can control it using your web-enabled iPhone, smartphone or computer.

An advantage of Using Insteon is that you can dim room lignts, operate curtains automatically and control other devices to make your home theater more theater-like.

Disadvantages include the added cost for the Insteon modules you'll need. You'll also have to run IR transmitter wires from the linc to the projector's IR receiver.

Enjoy home theater

Home living can be made more enjoyable using today's technology -- including home entertainment. Choose your equipment and enjoy!

What do you like about home theater?

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    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Great description of the different ways to control the screen. I think a projector is the way to go.


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