Choosing the right screen for an Ultra Short Throw Projector

ultra short throw

So, you want a big screen experience in a small space? Are you trying to avoid a permanent ceiling installation? Would running long HDMI or power cording be a challenge?  In scenarios like these, an Ultra Short Throw projector might be the right solution.

What is a UST Projector?

An Ultra Short Throw (UST) projector is a popular choice for small or shallow spaces because its wide angle lens allows you to place it in very close proximity to the screen. Mounting the projector close to the screen eliminates the risk of shadows from objects between projector and screen. Another benefit is that it does not require the potentially complex electrical work that a typical ceiling mounted projector requires – making it perfect for rentals and non traditional spaces. These types of projectors are often placed on projector stands or wall mounts.

Ultra Short Throw vs. Short Throw vs. Long Throw

Let’s start with some basics. To understand the difference between UST, Short Throw and Normal (or Long) Throw projectors you must first understand the concept of “throw distance” and “throw ratio.” Throw is simply the distance between the projector lens and the screen surface. Throw ratio can be calculated by dividing throw distance by the width (not the diagonal) of the screen. For example, a projector mounted 2 feet away from a screen with a width of 5 feet has a throw ratio of 2÷5=0.4.

Carl’s Tip: Long-division skills a little rusty? Try this easy Screen Size Calculator or read more about How to Select Your Ideal Projector Screen Size.

A projector is typically considered to be Ultra Short Throw if it has a throw ratio of less than 0.4.  Alternatively, a (non-ultra) Short Throw projector typically has a throw ratio between 0.4 and 1.0. For greater ratios, a Standard Long Throw projector would be an ideal choice.

Choosing a UST Projector Screen

A popular question we get asked is what material is the best option for a UST Projector Screen. When projecting at a close distance, it’s difficult to get a great picture unless you’re projecting onto a compatible surface.  In order to get the best performance from a UST projector, you need smooth, matte projection surface.

What to avoid:

Many surfaces are simply not suitable for UST projection. Drywall and non-tensioned material should not be considered as UST projection requires the smoothest possible surface. The smallest imperfection in texture can cast a shadow from the sharply angled source of light. Regular ambient light rejecting (ALR) material should also be avoided. The sheen of ALR material can result in uneven brightness reflecting from the projector.

What to look for:

An Ultra Short Throw projector pairs well with tension-mounted FlexiWhite or FlexiGray material. Our smooth, matte Ultra-White and Ultra-Gray materials are also strong options if your installation supports the use of a stiffer material. 

In summary, UST can be a great solution for projecting a large image from a close distance as long as you take care to select the right projector screen material.