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Hands On: Elite Screens’ Kestrel Tension Motorized Screen

Between the motorization aspect and widening of the screen, this product highlights how much more immersive a home theater can be with a 2.35:1 screen.


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Homeowners may not be investing in dedicated home theaters like they used to, but that hasn’t stopped the projection category from being fruitful … and perhaps it’s allowed installers to get more creative with their video sales.

For multipurpose media rooms, for example, clients might request both a fixed television display and a larger motorized projection screen that can disappear when not in use. For multiple aspect ratio viewing, there’s still plenty of reason to pitch customers on 2.35:1 setups that allow projectors to fill the screen without the unused black bar space on top and bottom — which can make movie night more special when switching from standard HDTV aspect ratio viewing.

Features
Those are also a couple of the reasons why I wanted to check out Elite Screens’ Kestrel Tension Series. It’s a motorized product that rises from a gloss-black enclosure, to deliver a viewing area from 84 to 115 diagonal inches, as well as custom sizes.

This made my theater the perfect guinea pig for convenient aspect-ratio switching. From a simplistic view, it’s as easy as clicking the remote control to fire up the screen.

And if a client doesn’t want to go all-in for a super-wide screen with motorized masking for aspect ratio switching, adding something like the Kestrel to a media room is a great compromise, especially for clients who don’t want to see the screen when they’re not watching anything.

Setup
Elite packages the Kestrel in the aforementioned enclosure and includes a handle. It’s definitely not light, but I'll confess to not having great arm strength and I’ve actually moved the screen to a different room up from the basement and can attest to its portability (my screen weighs 54 pounds), which is another potential benefit.

For the most part, though, I kept the screen in my theater room sitting along a cabinet in front of a wall that features a fixed 16:9 screen. For review purposes, setup required little more than plugging the unit into a standard wall outlet, popping batteries into the included IR remote and pressing the clicker up or down.

Performance
The first couple of times the screen descended, it made a loud metallic noise that seemed to correlate with the scissor-backed spring risers collapsing, but the sound has since dissipated. The screen takes about 29 seconds to raise.

I did not use an additional anamorphic lens setup, but rather the zoom method for maximizing the image on the 2.35:1 screen — I wound up aligning the tops of both screens closely, and only have to move my projector a touch when switching aspect ratios.

Forget 3D; installing 2.35:1 for CinemaScope movies still delivers the wow factor that clients desire, and there are far more 2.35 movies out there than 3D.

I used the Kestrel for Blu-rays such as Wall-E, A Bug’s Life and How to Train Your Dragon, and seeing them in their super-wide natural state is nothing short of impressive. Between the motorization aspect and widening of the screen, the Kestrel would make for a compelling showroom demonstration on how much more immersive home theater can be with a 2.35:1 screen, especially because clients likely will not have encountered it in a home setting.

The 1.1-gain CineWhite screen material offers plenty of brightness for installation in multipurpose media rooms, and the tensioning has shown no signs of sag. RF and IR remotes come standard, and for installers there’s also a built-in 5-12 volt trigger port to sync the motorization with the projector’s power.

Value
Elite offers the three most common aspect ratios of 4:3, 16:9 and 2.35:1, and sent me a 92-inch 2.35:1 model. MSRP starts from $2,660 for an 84-inch 2.35:1 aspect ratio screen.

Conclusion
The Kestrel is a unique offering that can let installers get creative with their designs, and upsell clients into more versatile viewing solutions.




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Article Topics

News · Product News · Home Theater · Hands On · Screens · Motorized Screen · All topics

About the Author

Arlen Schweiger
Arlen Schweiger is managing editor of CE Pro and Commercial Integrator magazines. Arlen contributes installation features, business profiles, manufacturer news and product reviews.

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