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Projector Screen Size Guide

How to go about selecting what size screen you need


If you have read our How to Select a Projector Screen Guide, you most likely have a good idea how to go about selecting a projector screen. One of the essential steps is determining which size screen you need. We carry a large assortment of screens from Da-Lite, Draper, Elite Screens, Alltec Screens and more. Each screen is offered in a variety of sizes, that are broken down into formats: HDTV (16:9), NTSC or Video (4:3), Widescreen PC (16:10), Square (1:1), CinemaScope (2.35:1) and various other AV formats. The guide below will help you understand what format and size will best fit your particular solution or situation.

How to Determine Projector Screen Size


Your perfect projector screen size depends largely on the projector itself. So, before you start looking at how to determine projector screen size, you'll need to look at the aspect ratio of your projector itself. That gives you the best starting point for determining a projector screen size. Next, consider what you'll be showing on your screen.

Widescreen format movies will need a very different setup compared to presentations with complex data or small charts in a boardroom. When you're considering how to determine the projector screen size, remember your audience has to enjoy the experience. This short projector screen guide below is based on estimates to optimize audience enjoyment - or at least keep everyone awake in the boardroom and avoid eyestrain in the living room.


Screen Height by Ratio


One of the best ways to get right size screen for your viewing needs is to get the correct screen height by ratio:

  • 4:3 Video: The screen height here will be based on the purpose of your display. For general settings, like watching a movie or TV show, you'll want a screen height that is at least 1/6 as high as the distance from the screen to the farthest chair you'll be using. This is the best option for large venues.

  • 4:3 Video in the Boardroom or Classroom: Because these situations often require the use of smaller images or charts, you'll want to use a similar formula but increase the screen height to 1/4 the distance to the furthest chair.

  • HDTV (16:9) and Widescreen (16:10): For these applications, you'll want a slightly larger screen. The screen height should equal roughly one-third the distance from the screen to the best seat in the house — that's based on your viewing preferences.

  • Cinema Video (2.35:1): Despite having an aspect ratio that looks like it should be close to our traditional video, you can use the one-third measurement here as well. However, we should note that cinema viewing can have a lot more to do with personal preference, so you may find the 1/4 distance more visually appealing.

Now, we didn't talk about width directly when figuring out how to determine projector screen size. That's because width is typically set by screen height when you know the type of video you'll be watching. Buy based on screen height and format support to avoid any issue.


How to Measure Projector Screen Size


If you already have a projector screen and want to replace it, but it's been a while, you'll want to grab a tape measure and make sure you get the proper replacement.

Here's how to measure your projector screen size in two quick ways:

1. Measure the length from the top-left to the bottom-right corner of your screen. This will give you the diagonal screen size, which is the most common measurement used when buying a screen.

2. Turn your aspect ratio into a fraction, so 16:9 would become 16/9. Measure your width and then multiply it by this fraction — this gives you the height. Now, think back to those old grade school days and apply the Pythagorean theorem (height2 plus width2 equals diagonal2). Take the square root of your number, and that's the diagonal measurement of your screen.


For additional help in selecting materials, or projector screens in general, feel free to give us a call toll-free at 800.637.3181.

Projector Screen Formats

Screen formats are determined by the specific aspect ratio of the screen. Aspect ratio is the fractional relation of the width of a video image compared to its height. The two most common aspect ratios in home video are 4:3 (also known as 4x3, 1.33:1, or standard) and 16:9 (16x9, 1.78:1, or wide-screen). All the older TVs and computer monitors you grew up with had the squarish 4:3 shape - only 33 percent wider than it was high. On the other hand, 16:9 is the native aspect ratio of most HDTV programming; it is 78 percent wider than it is tall, or fully one-third wider than 4:3.

What is the best aspect ratio for you?

So which aspect ratio is best for you? Today, the most commonly sold aspect ratios screens for home theaters are 16:9 Widescreen HDTV and the now growing 2.35:1 CinemaScope. HDTV 16:9 Aspect ratio screens are a perfect match to today's HD Home Theater projectors.

To figure out what aspect ratio may be best for you, you may consider the following:

If you are building a dedicated Home Theater room geared mostly towards movie watching, then we would suggest a 2.35:1 Cinema Aspect Ratio screen since this is what most movies are usually shot in. However, when you watch 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratio content on your 2.35:1 Cinema projection screen, you will have black bars on the left and right of the projected image.

If you are purchasing a projector screen for a TV room or primary viewing of HDTV channels and video gaming content, then we would suggest a 16:9 projection screen. However, when you watch 2.35:1 movies you will have black bars above and below your projected image(generally less intrusive than the side bars created oppositely). When watching 4:3 content, you will have black bars on the sides of your projected image.

If you are purchasing a projector screen for a Conference Room, Auditorium or anywhere that will be displaying a computer monitors display, then we recommend a 16:10 Widescreen PC format. When you watch 2.35:1 movies you will have black bars above and below your projected image, or on the sides when watching 16:9 and 4:3 content.

If you are purchasing a projector screen for a Classroom, Lecture Hall or somewhere that requires a more flexible solution to accomodate a multitude of formats, we then recommend 1:1 Square or 4:3 formats, as long as your projector is not fixed in its location. With a 1:1 or 4:3 projector screen, you can simply lower the screen to the appropriate position of the format you are displaying and move the projector backwards or forwards, similarly to adjust the image.


Square format is 1:1 - this format was most commonly used for slide projection and much older media content. A square 1:1 format projector screen can however, be rolled down or up to simulate Widescreen/HDTV or Video formats for viewing. This makes the 1:1 Square Format ideal for more flexibility in use and also for more portable applications.


Also referred to as 4:3, Standard Definition, NTSC or Academy. This ratio is becoming the ratio of the past as 16:9 HD (High Definition) is becoming the new medium. Many classic movies were made in this aspect ratio.

The 4:3 ratio for standard tv has been in use since television's origins and has been used for many computer monitors. 4:3 is the aspect ratio defined by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as a standard after the advent of optical sound-on-film. By having TV match this aspect ratio, films previously photographed on film could be satisfactorily viewed on TV in the early days of the medium (i.e. the '40s and the '50s). When cinema attendance dropped, Hollywood created widescreen aspect ratios in order to differentiate their industry from the TV.


Also referred to as 16:9, High Definition, HDTV or Widescreen. Ideal for HDTV channels, DVD's and BlurAYThis is the international standard format of HDTV as used in the United States, Australia, Japan and Canada as well as in Europe on satellite and non-HD widescreen television (EDTV) PALplus. The 16:9 aspect ratio was the compromise between the 35 mm US and UK widescreen standard (1.85:1) and the 35 mm European widescreen standard (1.66:1)

This is now a standard aspect ratio in the USA and all HD projectors (720 or 1080) natively project at this Aspect Ratio. This is also one of the most popular choices for home theaters and media rooms when sports and gaming outweighs movie watching.


Also referred to as 16:10, PC Widescreen, Computer Monitor/Display or Tablet Widescreen. This 16:10 format is comonly used on computer monitors and now more popularly in certain Laptops, Notebooks and Tablet resolutions. Just slightly less wide and taller than the typical 16:9, the 16:10 aspect ratio matches common widescreen projector resolutions like WXGA (1280x800), WXGA+ (1440x900), WSXGA+ (1680x1050), and WUXGA (1920x1200).


This is the 35 mm anamorphic standard prior to 1970, used by CinemaScope ("Scope") and early Panavision. The anamorphic standard has subtly changed so that modern anamorphic productions are actually 2.39 (2:40:1) but often referred to as 2.35 anyway due to old convention.

A majority of major released films use this aspect ratio and this is why most people choose this aspect ratio screen when building a dedicated home theater where movie watching out weighs TV, sports and gaming. This aspect ratio is much wider than the 16:9 HDTV.


Picking your perfect size

Once you have decided on a format, you will need to select an actual size for your projector screen. This is a slightly more difficult process as it really pertains more to individual preferences, room size, projector capabilities, viewing angles etc. Below are some of the standard sizes for Da-Lite and Draper to help you choose.

If you have questions, just give us a call toll-free at 800.637.3181.


Draper Projector Screen Sizes
Video Format (4:3 Aspect Ratio)
Image Diagonal
Image Height
Image Width
6'
42.5"
56.5"
7'
50"
66.5"
100"
60"
80"
10'
72"
96"
11'
78"
104"
150"
87"
116"
15'
108"
144"
200"
118"
158"
210"
126"
168"
240"
141"
188"
HDTV Format (16:9 Aspect Ratio)
Image Diagonal
Image Height
Image Width
65"
31.75"
56.5"
73"
36"
64"
82"
40.5"
72"
92"
45"
80"
106"
52"
92.5"
119"
58"
104"
133"
65"
116"
161"
79"
140"
184"
90"
160"
193"
94.5"
168"
220"
106"
188"
AV Format (1:1 Aspect Ratio)
Image Diagonal
Image Height
Image Width
71"
50"
50"
85"
60"
60"
99"
70"
70"
119"
84"
84"
136"
96"
96"
153"
108" (9')
108" (9')
170"
120" (10')
120" (10')
204"
144" (12')
144" (12')
238"
168" (14')
168" (14')
272"
192" (16')
192" (16')
Widescreen Format (1.85:1 Aspect Ratio)
Image Diagonal
Image Height
Image Width
99"
47"
87"
108"
50"
92"
120"
56"
104"
132"
63"
116"
162"
76"
140"
182"
86.5"
160"
190"
91"
168"
218"
102"
188"

Da-Lite Projector Screen Sizes
Video Format (4:3 Aspect Ratio)
Image Diagonal
Image Height
Image Width
60"
36"
48"
72"
43"
57"
84"
50"
67"
96"
57"
77"
100"
60"
80"
120"
69"
92"
150"
87"
116"
180"
105"
140"
200"
120"
160"
210"
123"
164"
240"
141"
188"
HDTV Format (16:9 Aspect Ratio)
Image Diagonal
Image Height
Image Width
92"
45"
80"
106"
52"
92"
110"
54"
96"
119"
58"
104"
133"
65"
116"
159"
78"
139"
188"
92"
164"
216"
106"
188"
220"
108"
192"
AV Format (1:1 Aspect Ratio)
Image Diagonal
Image Height
Image Width
71"
50"
50"
85"
60"
60"
99"
70"
70"
108"
60" (5')
90" (7.5')
119"
84"
84"
120"
72" (6')
96" (8')
130"
72" (6')
108" (9')
136"
96" (8')
96" (8')
151"
84" (7')
126" (10.5')
153"
108" (9')
108" (9')
170"
120" (10')
120" (10')
173"
96" (8')
144" (12')
204"
144" (12')
144" (12')
238"
168" (14')
168" (14')
272"
192 (16')
192 (16')
305"
216 (18')
216 (18')

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