We aren’t able to tell you exactly how the Black Diamond screens do their high reflectivity thing. The most we’ve been able to get out of the understandably secretive Screen Innovations is that it’s a non-polarising fabric comprising no less than seven optical laminations including, most importantly, a unique reflective layer system. We can also say that the material has been improved for the generation three version on the Zero Edge screens by coming in darker colour options – thereby permitting better black level response – and delivering a wider viewing angle before parts of the picture start to lose brightness. If we said any more, we’d have to kill you and then ourselves. Probably.
The viewing angle issue was pretty much our only bone of contention with the second-gen Black Diamond screen, so if Screen Innovations has substantially improved that as it claims to have done, then we really could be onto a winner with the Zero Edge – especially given its new designer, lifestyle credentials.
As soon as we settle down to watch the Zero Edge (using a variety of projectors, but predominantly a high brightness, high end Sim2 Nero 2!) we’re reminded of just why the previous Black Diamond screen impressed us so much. For even with the lights in the test room turned on to maximum, the picture produced from the screen was not only perfectly watchable, but rather enjoyable. Pictures enjoyed far more colour response, brightness and even contrast than you would ever be able to even dream of getting from a ‘normal’ screen with any sort of ambient light around.
Dark scenes in particular almost seem to defy science in ambient light, so full are they of subtle detailing and accurate colour tones. We swear we’ve seen some projectors used in perfectly dark rooms not deliver dark scenes so convincingly.
Because pictures look so bright and contrast rich they’re able to really bring out the fine details in HD feeds, making them look extremely sharp even with the lights turned pretty much to full. Watching a projector on a normal screen in ambient light, by comparison, leaves the picture looking soft and listless.
Even positioning the projector so that a large window could expose the screen to daylight from the side (as shown in the photo above, taken at Lounge Lizards on The King’s Road in London), the picture still looked perfectly watchable. Not as bright and colourful as a huge plasma screen would, it has to be said, but good enough to enjoy – especially given the tens of thousands of pounds less the Zero Edge will have cost you.
The Black Diamond Zero Edge achieves this because, as noted earlier, it focusses much more of the light directly back towards you rather than doing as most projector screens do and scattering the reflected light far and wide around your room. And this has a rather cool knock-on effect too, for when we drew back our black-out curtains to reveal the white-painted wall behind them while testing the screen, we noted that there the walls exhibited hardly any of the ‘bounce back’ of light that we would expect to see when exposed to the light cast off from a typical screen.
This again is a huge benefit to a normal living situation in a typical house, as we haven’t come across many households who want to paint their walls the black or dark grey colours pretty much demanded by most normal projector screens.