Review Price free/subscription
Planar Xscreen Monaco 80
If you really, really love films, you've probably at least entertained the possibility of rigging yourself up with a front projection system. After all, this is the only way you'll be able to get at home a picture size that can really deliver the same sort of vision-filling cinematic impact you get at your local Odeon or Showcase.
But having entertained the front projection possibility, you've also most likely dismissed the notion, at least partly on the grounds that front projection systems just don't tend to be very practical for most domestic environments. Not least because in order to get any kind of decent performance out of such a system, you need to have the room it's based in left in near-perpetual darkness.
Today, though, we have sat before us a really innovative solution to this ‘must have darkness' problem in the form of the Xscreen Monaco 80: an 80in projection screen especially designed to be usable in ambient light. Intrigued? You should be.
As you might imagine, there's really very little about the Xscreen Monaco 80 that you might describe as ‘normal' by the standards of front projection screens. For starters, where most screens look merely functional, the Monaco 80 is a genuinely rather gorgeous looking thing. It's a ‘rigid' design (rather than one that unrolls), but its outstandingly robust, high gloss frame is a huge improvement over the cheapo felt or plastic frames most rigid designs employ. You can even choose whether you want the frame in white or black, and the screens are also available in 60in, 70in and 100in sizes.
By far the most significant factor in the Monaco 80's design, though, is the fact that the screen itself is not made from your typical flexible screen fabric. In fact it's rock hard - which probably has something to do with the fact that it's made from a 4mm layer of hardened glass…
Glass, of course, is hardly the first material that springs to mind when you're thinking about projector screens. In fact, aside from the fact that it makes for a perfectly flat surface, it's difficult how to imagine that glass could offer a remotely suitable projection surface at all.
The trick, of course, is that the Monaco 80's glass has had a secret ingredient added: something it likes to call Daytime Film Technology. DFT, as it shall henceforth be known, involves applying a thin layer of ‘special' material to the glass layer that has been specially designed to accurately reproduce the picture from your projector while also eliminating reflections from other light sources such as windows or lamps. It's this filtering out of reflections in particular that gives rise to the Monaco 80's claims that it can deliver perfectly watchable projection results even with the lights on.