- Written by Chris Eberle
- Published on 25 January 2012
The Screen Innovations Black Diamond Zero Edge Projection Screen In Use
I’ll put it out there right up front – the image on the Zero Edge is stunning. The contrast performance is unmatched with any screen material I have ever seen. Granted, I’m using a projector with extremely high contrast but this screen absolutely does increase dynamic range. I was immediately captivated when I turned my projector on and could barely see a black field. My Anthem LTX-500 is dark but with a typical screen, you can tell it’s on. With the Black Diamond, I could hardly tell. It took my eyes a few seconds to adjust to the darkness before I could see that the projector was indeed functioning.
The holy grail of front projection, for me at least, is to, as closely as possible, equal the image quality of the best plasma TV. I am fortunate to see that every day when I turn on my ninth-generation Pioneer Kuro, a PRO-111FD. This latest iteration of the Black Diamond screen achieves this. I can truly say this screen looks like a high-end plasma panel. It even looks like a high-end TV when there’s no image! The rigid construction and its floating off the wall look make for a very striking appearance.
I started with two unfamiliar Blu-ray titles, Fast Five and The Rite. Fast Five is an action-packed crime caper with lots of bright saturated color and razor-sharp detail. I wondered if dark scenes would give up any detail but they did not. Remember that I did not adjust my projector in any way. Higher contrast screens like this can sometimes skew the gamma curve forcing a change but the shadow detail was well-preserved and I didn’t have to make any adjustments to enjoy all my viewing. The rich accurate color I’m accustomed to was also unaffected by the Black Diamond. Hues were even bolder and deeper thanks to the increased dynamic range.
The Rite has lots of dark content which is a challenge for just about any screen/projector combination. I had no issues with this film at any time. Watching a movie like this makes me glad to have a light-tight room. Even though the Black Diamond lets you watch with the lights on, it still works best in total darkness. The color palette of this film is more muted than Fast Five but it never looked flat. Dimensionality was preserved throughout.
Moving on to some of my display review standards, I lined up Toy Story 3, Live Free or Die Hard and I, Robot. Toy Story 3 is a great example of Pixar’s fanatical attention to textural detail; something which no other animated film-maker has yet matched. The finest detail popped right out giving the image a real 3D feel. Bright scenes, dark scenes; it didn’t matter; no elements were crushed in either the darkest shadows or the brightest highlights. And color was superb of course.
Live Free or Die Hard is one of my favorite tests of contrast performance. Several scenes early in the movie have very intricate shadow detail that only the best displays can render properly. I can say I have never seen a better presentation of this Blu-ray. Blacks were truly black yet even the most subtle elements like folds of clothing or gritty walls in a run-down apartment building looked exquisite.
My final selection, I, Robot, has always been a benchmark for me as one of the very best Blu-ray transfers ever. There are basically no flaws whatsoever in this release and it will make nearly any display look good. In the case of the Black Diamond, it looked sensational. I couldn’t help but marvel at the fantastic contrast, depth, and richness of the image. It really was a sight to behold.
Now that I’ve spent seven paragraphs extolling the wonders of this screen, I have to point out one minute flaw. The last Black Diamond screen I reviewed was in 2009 and at that time, I noticed a texture artifact that looked like fine sparkles in the center of the screen. It could be classified as a hot spot and it seemed to be more visible as the screen gain increased. Knowing that SI constantly works to improve their products, I wondered if they had reduced or eliminated this effect with their latest offering. I am happy to say it is almost gone, but not quite. In the brightest, continuous toned images, I could still see the most subtle sparkling. It’s not concentrated in any one area of the screen. It’s more of a slight texturing. This is an extremely minor criticism – you have to look pretty hard to see it and it’s only in the brightest highlights.