Stewart Filmscreen Cine-W Video Projector Screen Review
When it comes to projection screens, no one does it better than Stewart. From the consumer marketplace to some of the great movie houses the world over, you can bet if the picture is stunning, it owes a lot of its brilliance to a Stewart screen. However, up until now, the only place you could enjoy a true CinemaScope movie experience was in a theater. Not a company to leave well enough alone when it comes to top-performing home theater systems, Stewart has pioneered and released their Cine-W lineup of screens, which not only features a true CinemaScope aspect ratio (2.35:1), but also a slightly curved screen surface for better picture uniformity. I should mention that in order to take full advantage of the Cine-W’s real estate, your projector will have to be compatible with an anamorphic lens, as are many of today’s state-of-the-art projectors. The Cine-W screen comes in a variety of sizes, up to roughly 82 inches tall by 192 inches across, which is an image a little over 200 diagonal inches. The Cine-W can be outfitted with all of the various Stewart screen materials, including their new Microperf X2, for placing speakers behind the screen itself. While the slight curve helps create a sense of immersion and controls the reflection of light, the VeLux black velvet border ensures light leakage will be kept to a minimum.
I had the chance to view Casino Royale (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) on a Cine-W screen during the CEDIA show in Denver last year. The image was spectacular. The picture quality, in terms of light, contrast, black levels and color saturation, bordered on plasma-like, except that I was watching a true 2.35:1 image that engulfed nearly my entire field of view. It was one of the best demos of the show, bettered only by Stewart’s own StarGlas material, which was showing one booth over. Cine-W is one of those products that cause me a lot of grief as, once I saw it, I wanted it.
While Stewart’s Cine-W screen is pretty much the coolest thing to hit the projector market in a long time, it does have its drawbacks. First and foremost, it requires an anamorphic-compatible projector, which often means having to buy a third-party lens and mount, so the buy-in cost goes beyond just the screen. Because of its curved nature, you’ll have to mount it into your wall for a flush application or live with a slight protrusion on the ends when surface-mounted. Also, unless you watch a lot of films captured in 2:35, you’re not going to get a whole lot of mileage out of the Cine-W. If you still want the curved CinemaScope experience but with masking to aid in standard-definition viewing, then you’ll want to look at Stewart’s CineCurve screen.
For the true cinema purists out there, nothing says movie theater experience like your very own Stewart Cine-W 2.35:1 CinemaScope screen. There are more versatile screens for 16:9 and 4:3 viewing, but none will recreate that “you are there” quality quite like Stewart’s Cine-W. If you have an anamorphic-capable projector or are thinking of buying one, then the Stewart Cine-W screen should definitely be on your must-have list.