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Screen Innovations Black Diamond II - Caveats and Verdict
The final feather in the Black Diamond II’s cap is its flexibility in terms of the projectors it can work with. We tried it with five different models ranging in price from £900 to £26,000 (!), and in every case it radically improved the perceived performance compared with our reference screen.
Tellingly, its impact relative to normal screens was at its most startling when we tried it out in a fair degree of ambient light and/or in a room with very light and thus potentially reflective walls. Here it really did manage to retain a level of punch to the image that wouldn’t look out of place on a massive plasma TV. But it also still delivers marked improvements in fully darkened rooms - particularly if the dark room has light-painted walls.
So far, so very good. But before you all start wondering why anyone would want to buy any other screen, there are a few problems to report.
The most important of these concerns viewing angle. For the technology the screen uses to focus the light straight back out of the screen means that the image can lose brightness if viewed from more than around 40 degrees to the left or right, or as little as 20 degrees above or below. What’s more, the level of the brightness reduction you’ll see isn’t consistent across the screen once you view from beyond the above tolerances, leading to a distractingly uneven look to the picture.
People wanting to hide a centre speaker behind the Black Diamond II should also note that it’s not acoustically transparent. In other words, it’s not perforated so that sound can pass through it easily. In fact, its multilayered nature arguably makes it more of a blockage to sound than most normal screens, so your centre speaker will likely have to sit above or below it instead.
We also occasionally detected a marginal shimmering effect on the surface of very bright image elements when using powerful projectors - though we really wouldn’t deem this significant in the context of the positives the Black Diamond II can bring to a typical non-specialist home cinema setup.
One final little issue we noted was that in adding intensity to pictures, the Black Diamond II slightly emphasises the impact of single-chip DLP projector’s rainbow effect (where you see stripes of red, green and blue in your peripheral vision or over bright image elements). This makes it perhaps a better friend of LED, three-chip DLP, LCD, SXRD and D-ILA models than budget DLP ones. That said, there are now a number of single-chip DLP models out there that really do keep a tight lid on rainbowing and so should work absolutely fine with the Black Diamond II.
Provided its caveats - especially the viewing angle one - don’t impact your particular viewing setup, the Black Diamond II can deliver what for many normal home cinema enthusiasts might be considered the Holy Grail: namely mammoth, good quality pictures that can be watched in a degree of ambient light for a price that’s a tiny fraction of what you’d have to stump up for a 70in or bigger plasma or LCD TV.