The intention behind all this effort was to make a screen that’s much more focussed in the way it reflects light. In other words, rather than scattering light all over the place, like a typical projection surface does, the Black Diamond II’s optical properties ensure that the light comes back towards you from the screen in an exceptionally focussed way.
What’s more, it manages this considerable feat without generating seemingly any ‘hotspots’, where one part of the image looks brighter than the rest.
The Black Diamond II is available in various sizes, starting at around £2,330 for a 70in screen and going up to £3,150 for the biggest screen – 113in – you can get without needing a seam.
The screen is also available with either 1.4 or 0.8 gains, with the former working best if you really have a lot of ambient light to contend with, but the 0.8 version likely to produce more neutral and thus cinematic results in rooms where ambient light levels can be well controlled. It’s the 0.8 gain screen that we’re looking at for this review.
With so many high quality displays around these days, it takes a lot to completely blow us away. But our first glimpse of the Black Diamond II in action really was one of those ‘Eureka’ moments. For the way the picture from a selection of resident projectors – including some seriously cheap ones – positively explodes off the Black Diamond II is nothing short of revelatory.
There are two reasons for this. First, the sheer reflective prowess of the fabric seems to amplify the light arriving from the projector, rather than soaking it up. Second and more importantly/remarkably, the Black Diamond II’s structure, as billed, ensures that practically none of the light from the projector gets scattered willy nilly around your room, to bounce of side walls and ceilings and thus reduce perceived contrast. Instead, it’s focussed right back at you with maximum intensity.
This focussing aspect of the Black Diamond II also has the effect of keeping your attention riveted more fully on the screen and therefore the film or game you’re watching, since you’re less aware of the environment around the screen.
As if the Black Diamond II’s ‘how does it do that?’ thrills weren’t already persuasive enough, we were also startled by how much extra shadow detail we were able to see in dark areas of the picture; how contrast-rich images appear compared with how they look on our standard £900 Vutec screen; and how natural colours look, despite – or maybe because of – the extra brightness that’s driving them.
It should also be stressed that the extra brightness and punch the Black Diamond II adds to your projection pictures doesn’t come at the expense of black level response. On the contrary, the screen’s ability to reduce light ‘spillage’ around the room makes black colours look richer and deeper than they do on normal screens.