Front projection-based systems are pretty cool and the ultimate expression of creating the cinema experience at home. However, when the lights are on and the show isn't about to start - a front projection system is nothing more than a blank canvas resting on a wall awaiting an image from a not too nearby front projector. Front projection screens are notoriously a duotone affair: a white or grey screen surrounded by a chunky black frame, a frame that is usually clad in some sort of velvet or velvet-like material. Stewart Filmscreen, makers of some of the finest front projection screens in the world, has set out to change the public perception of what a film screen can be by bejeweling it.
That's right, Stewart Filmscreen, in partnership with Swarovski, has created the Couture Collection, a range of front projection screens from Stewart clad in bedazzled frames covered in Swarovski loose cut crystals. Prices vary depending on the size, shape and screen materials used as well as finish of the frames themselves, so you should contact your local Stewart Filmscreen dealer for the most up to date and accurate pricing. Standard finishes for the Couture Collection include diamond, onyx, silver, gold, rubellite, amethyst, sapphire, ruby, emerald, aquamarine, peridot and topaz. Custom finishes are available at an extra cost. As for the screen itself, you can order your Couture Collection screen in any of Stewart's fine screen materials including those designed for rear projection, such as StarGlas. The screen material itself is surrounded by a Black VeLux trim so as to maintain a sharp edge and contrast.
The Couture Collection's performance is largely dependent upon what material you choose and where in your home you choose to install it, for the crystal encrusted frame itself does nothing to enhance your favorite film or television show. Instead, it endeavors to enhance your experience of the screen itself when NOT in use. In ambient to bright light situations the frame does shimmer and sparkle a bit but not with a sort of disco ball effect I was expecting. With the lights off, the frame has little to no negative impact on the projected image. Now, it does not disappear into the surrounding darkness for it does pick up bits of reflected light here and there but nothing too distracting for anyone but the most die-hard videophiles, whom, lets be honest, wouldn't dream of owning a screen such as the Couture Collection.
Read about the high points and low points of Stewart's Couture Collection on Page 2.
• The Couture Collection screen from Stewart solves a unique problem in that it makes the otherwise boring front projection screen surround a bit more interesting.
• Interior decorators are bound to love the finish options of the Couture Collection screen, especially when they can tell clients their home theater will be adorned with Swarovski crystals.
• As absurd as I'm sure some of you reading this believe the Couture Collection screen to be, it's a worthwhile product for it helps elevate front projection screens from being just "man cave" toys to legitimate living room pieces with higher wife acceptance factor.
• Those looking for performance benefits will find none, for the Couture Collection screen is all fashion for its bejeweled frame adds nothing to the performance of the screen itself.
• The bejeweled frame does pick up stray reflections and light, making it impossible not to notice even in darkened environments.
Competition and Comparison
There isn't another manufacturer, to my knowledge, who is bedazzling their front projection frames in crystals, but that doesn't mean there aren't other, décor friendly, solutions out there. Vutec for instance has their Art Screen, which utilizes a picture frame-like surround that is completely customizable though Vutec goes one further by covering the unused projection screen with art via a motorized roller. In other words an Art Screen from Vutec appears to be a nicely framed painting or photograph when not in use and a home theater screen when its time for movie night.
For more on front projection screens including the latest news and reviews please visit Home Theater Review's Front Projection Screen page.
The Couture Collection from Stewart Filmscreen is a unique product from this otherwise performance-driven manufacturer in that it offers up no discernable performance benefits save one - the screen's ability to be showcased in a high-end living environment versus hidden or masked from view. While I'm sure many will view the Swarovski crystal frame featured on the Couture Collection screen as nothing more than a gimmick, I assure you it addresses a very real problem for many of Stewart's higher end clients. While I personally don't require the Couture Collection's heightened esthetics or price tag, I also realize I'm not its target buyer. For those who want a front projection system in their home but don't want to build a dedicated room to house it in, consider the Couture Collection from Stewart Filmscreen.