What is the best Tabletop Battlemap Screen for a Projector?
The Battlemap projector hangs on the ceiling, the adventure is prepared and everything is ready for the first RPG session! But at the first battle, the image quality leaves more than a little to be desired! The Infinite Realms team has tested tablecloths, pads, screens and reflective paints for you!
We installed a ceiling mount for the projector at both Nina and Dannys place, as well as Jessis and Jans. Unfortunately, our two tables are not particularly suitable as a projection surface by themselves. So far, we’ve made do with a regular white tablecloth - Nina has one made of fabric and Jessi has one made of plastic - but Peter Fisher’s comment under our video Projector vs TV Case or Gaming Table for digital RPG Battlemaps gave us the idea to look at other options!
We’ve had our sights set on a white heavy duty rubber mat for a while now, and we got it for this test. We took Peter’s tip and got some canvas frames, like the ones artists use for their paintings.
We have divided the canvas into three parts. One part remains raw, one part is painted with a white acrylic paint and one part is covered with a special projection paint.
Of course, our tablecloths - cotton and high-gloss plastic - are not forgotten, nor is the blank wooden tabletop!
No products are sponsored. You can find links to all products at the end of this article.
Since we don’t have any instruments to test the luminous flux scientifically correct, we had to come up with something. We will take 4 photos of the battlemap of each setup with fixed values on the camera, so that the pictures are comparable. As a testmal we will use the Forgotten Graves 3D Szenario from the Infinite Realms tabletop battle map projection software. To do this, we will load 2 different battlemaps into Infinite Realms - one quite bright and one quite dark - and photograph each of them in a brightly lit and sparsely lit room. In addition, we will take notes on brightness, contrast, colors, reflections and general image quality, recording our subjective impressions. For the evaluation we then compare the brightness on the photos and incorporate our personal impressions! At the end we will grade each solution by image quality, distracting reflections and clean ability.
For reference - Blank wooden tabletop
We first took the bare wooden tabletop as a reference. We thought it couldn’t get any worse, and we were right. The picture quality is practically non-existent, and there are also annoying reflections that completely destroy the overall picture depending on the viewing angle. At least it is easy to clean with a damp cloth.
Granny’s Cotton tablecloth
Almost everyone has a white tablecloth at home, a white bed sheet will also do. If not ask mom or grandma. The purchase is therefore very cheap. The color and image quality is OK, but for a better result, we speak from experience, you should iron the tablecloth beforehand. Disturbing reflections do not exist here at all, but you should take very good care of your drinks, because cleaning in the washing machine is possible, but relatively costly.
A modern alternative to grandma’s tablecloth is a high-gloss plastic tablecloth. The picture quality is really good, but at the cost of annoying reflections that are clearly visible. But you can play with a whole horde of barbarians and make the tablecloth shiny again with a single wipe.
We found a white rubber mat in an online store, which we thought would be a great base because it is as resistant as a plastic tablecloth, but not as reflective. This is exactly what our test confirmed. The image quality is good, the reflections were very strong or non-existent depending on the angle, but much better than with the plastic tablecloth. Cleaning is almost as easy as with the plastic tablecloth, as it is slightly duller. The rubber mat in this size, purchased directly from the manufacturer, cost 20 bucks.
Canvas with vanilla paint
Canvas with special projector paint
Now we wanted to show you the differences between the blank canvas, and the canvas with acrylic paint and special projection paint, but there is not much difference. The image quality is generally good. The special paint is slightly better in the darkened room, brighter, more contrasty, but in the bright room it is much less contrasty. We hardly noticed any difference between the acrylic paint and the blank canvas. The disadvantage of the canvas is the inflexible size, an object on the table in addition, cleaning goes only by painting over. A plus point is that there are no reflections, of course, only with matte paint. Speaking of paint, the small can of projector paint cost 35 bucks, making it the most expensive purchase in our test.
During the filming, a roll of wrapping paper fell into our hands and that’s when we had the idea of testing the white reverse side. Everyone has wrapping paper in the house. The purchase is therefore very inexpensive and versatile. The image quality is OK, but could have been better, but the reflections were a disaster. As an emergency solution, if you have nothing at all there, but still better than the tabletop. If the wrapping paper gets dirty, you have unfortunately no way to clean it.
Since we couldn’t agree on a clear favorite, here are the opinions of our team.
Nina: “Due to the easy handling and the relatively low purchase prices, I find the rubber mat the best. The image quality is good and you can live with the reflection. It combines the advantages of the cotton tablecloth and the plastic tablecloth. For me, the canvas is not practical, because here only the projection color convinced. But since this is very expensive and the canvas on the table disturbs. If you would paint the tabletop directly with the paint, however, that would still be worth considering.”
Jessi: „After careful consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t have a one hundred percent favorite, but anything is better than the bare tabletop. Both the plastic and cotton tablecloths and the rubber mat are good value for money though there are small differences in saturation and contrast. I find the projection color best in the dark, but the price combined with the canvas is still very high.“
Danny: „My favorite is the rubber mat. For me, it is a perfect compromise. It is not the best solution in any category, but at the same time it does not have any notable weaknesses. The image quality is good, and reflections are kept within limits. It doesn’t get in the way and is easy to clean, plus it wasn’t particularly expensive.“
Jan: „Compared to the purchase costs of a projector, the rubber mat is inexpensive. If that’s still too much for you, a plastic tablecloth or grandma’s tablecloth will do just as well. I can’t decide on a clear favorite out of these three, because they all have their own advantages and disadvantages.“
- by Nina