The Big Short
Sound & Vision|August - September 2021
EPV SCREENS DARKSTAR UST 2 EFINITY PROJECTION SCREEN
Al Griffin

WITH ULTRA short throw (UST) projectors available from a growing list of companies including Epson, LG, Hisense, Optoma, Vava, and now Samsung, it’s clear that the category has become firmly established. That’s no surprise given the ergonomic and screen real estate per-dollar benefits such models offer, but getting the best picture quality from a UST setup requires a specific screen pairing. We’ve frequently discussed ambient light rejecting (ALR) screens in Sound & Vision and have reviewed a fair number of them. But a UST projector requires a specialized type of ALR screen—one like the DarkStar UST 2 Efinity from EPV Screens.

What makes a UST screen different from a typical ALR model is the structure of the optical coating on the screen’s surface, which is aligned to filter out light emanating from above the screen while reflecting light coming from below where the projector is positioned in a UST setup. Screens such as the DarkStar UST 2 Efinity also feature a black layer that helps to absorb light and increase both contrast and color saturation. The formulation used for UST screens allows for overhead room lights to be left on but doesn’t fully reject light hitting the screen from its left and right sides, so you’ll need to exert some degree of control over ambient room lighting conditions for best performance.

The DarkStar UST 2 Efinity is sold exclusively by EPV Screens’ dealer network and arrives in a 68 x 8 x 12-inch (WxHxD) shipping carton. Given the compact size of the package that arrived at my doorstep, I was somewhat mystified to learn that its contents would yield a 60.7-inch high by 107.3- inch wide (123 inches diagonal) screen when fully assembled. I use a 100-inch diagonal Screen innovations Short Throw as a reference, and consider that to be “big.” But once the DarkStar UST 2 was fully assembled, I found myself surprised by how dramatic a size boost stepping up to 120-plus inches delivered—this was by far the most immersive image I’ve yet experienced in my home.

Adding to that sense of visual immersion is the DarkStar UST 2 Efinity’s fixed Edge Free frame, which, at just 0.4 inches wide, delivers the same floating “bezel-free” look you get with certain large flat-panel TVs. EPV Screens’ specs list gain as 0.8 percent, overhead light absorption at 85 percent, and viewing angle as 160 degrees. The DarkStar UST 2 Efinity is also ISF Certified, 8K and HDR-ready, and comes with a five-year limited warranty.

SETUP

The unavoidable heavy lift when buying a projection screen is assembling it yourself, something you’ll need to set aside a few hours to do and ideally with a second set of helping hands on deck. Fortunately, the DarkStar UST 2 Efinity comes with a detailed, well-illustrated instruction manual that I mostly found easy to follow. An online support video would have been a welcome additional resource here, but I couldn’t find one dedicated to this particular model when I checked out the company’s website.

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