We’ve all been there before: you?ve got the day off, and you decide to sit around the house and enjoy watching Saving Private Ryan in your home theater, without constraints on volume from your roommates, significant other, or spouse. Everything is great?until you realize you can?t see Tom Hanks because sunlight from the rear window is glaring up your screen. What began as an enjoyable experience quickly becomes annoying, and you end up spending all day answering email and grumbling about your TV. Fortunately, the answer to this problem is simpler than you might imagine.

Rear projection televisions (RPTVs) have a protective screen placed between the actual screen elements of the television and the viewer. This protects your TV from pets, carpet dander, and the hands of two-year-olds. However, if you?ve got your theater in a well-controlled environment where there isn?t much traffic (resulting in low carpet dander), and pets and children are either not allowed or watched fairly closely, the protective screen stops serving its purpose. In fact, it actually hurts the picture, allowing for light sources to cause glare and distortion. In these cases, removing the screen is a great idea.

First, you?ll need to remove the speaker covers on the bottom of the TV. These usually are attached via thick Velcro-like attachments, and you can firmly pull them off without damage. Then you can unscrew any other coverings on the bottom portion of your TV, all of which house and protect the projection elements of the television. On my Toshiba RPTV, I had to pull off two speaker grilles, attached by Velcro, and then unscrew a center cover. The results are shown in Figure 2-17.

Different models use different attachments and cover schemes, so consult your manual carefully. Pulling firmly on something that?s screwed in can be futile, or in certain cases, can rip your speaker grilles.

Next, you?ll need to remove the screen console itself. Before removing the screen, though, find a good clean sheet and lay it down on your floor. Make sure it?s unfolded enough to allow your entire screen to lie on it. Then, remove the screen unit from your television. This usually involves removing additional screws and then lifting the entire console up and out. You might want to have a friend help, as this step is the most critical, and one during which you could damage your screen elements if you?re not careful. Lay the entire assembly on your clean sheet, face down. Your RPTV should now look something like Figure 2-18.

Unscrew any restraints holding the screens in your front assembly. On my unit, there were restraints on each edge, each with three screws to remove. At this point, you should be able to lift your display stack, which is the set of screen elements including the protective screen, out of the screen console. This is another critical step and one that you should take with great care; you might want to simply tilt the stack up, never completely removing it from the front assembly. Carefully remove the protective screen from the stack by pulling out the clear, thick piece closest to the screen assembly. Then set the remaining stack back into the display assembly.

Now you?ll need to reattach the restraints, but don?t start screwing things in yet; most sets allow room for the protective screen, and you?ll find that you can?t tighten down the display stack. You shouldn?t just grind the screw in place because this can easily damage your screen elements, or even the entire front assembly. Instead, pick up some inexpensive weather-stripping from a local hardware store, and cut it in thin strips to match your restraints. Then you can set these strips in between the display stack and the screen restraints, providing a durable cushion. With these in place, reattach the restraints. In Figure 2-19, you can just see the edges of a not-so-precisely cut bit of weather-stripping sticking out from under the restraints (I don?t recommend being this sloppy?it just serves as a good illustration).

With your front assembly sans protective screen, you just need to put the unit back together. I was unable to take a before-and-after picture, as the glare on the before picture distorted everything! Of course, after these modifications, you?ll have a sleek, glare-free unit that you can photograph anytime you like.

As an added bonus, I find that my blacks seem blacker, and my overall picture has a clarity that was distorted somewhat by the protective screen?a very nice improvement for the cost of a bit of weather-stripping.