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Acer H6500 Review
The Acer H6500 home theater projector delivers full 1080p resolution and a reasonably high-quality video image.
(3 out of 5)
- Native 1080p resolution
- Reasonably high quality image
- Two HDMI ports
- No 3D support
- No speaker
- No audio output
The Acer H6500 ($900 street) is the latest addition to the slowly growing list of home theater projectors with full 1080p resolution and sub-$1000 prices. More important, if you’re in the market for an entry-level projector, it offers enough to make it worth a close look. Rated at 2100 lumens, it’s a little bright for a traditional home theater with theater dark lighting, but if you need a projector that’s bright enough to set up in a family room or living room with a typical level of ambient light, it could be a good fit.
Built around a DLP chip, the H6500′s competition includes the ViewSonic Pro8200 ($900 street, 3 stars) and also the Optoma HD20 ($1000 street, 3.5 stars), which was the first 1080p home theater projector in this price range, and is still one of the best.
In addition to being inexpensive, all three projectors are small and light. The H6500 in particular weighs only 5.6 pounds. If you don’t have room to set it up permanently, you can store it away when you’re not using it, and set it up quickly when you need it. You can even carry it to a friend’s house for a movie night.
Acer makes storing or carrying the projector easy by including a soft carrying case. One complication for using the H6500 this way, however, is that it doesn’t have a speaker or even an audio out port to redirect audio from the HDMI port to an external sound system. If you want to set it up only when needed, you’ll also have to consider where the sound is going to come from.
Setup and Performance
Aside from considerations about an external sound system, setup is standard fare, with the 1.2x manual zoom offering some flexibility in how far you can put the projector from the screen for a given size image. The connectors on the back focus primarily on video input, with one VGA connector, two HDMI connectors, a composite video connector, and three RCA phono plugs for component video.
In my tests, the projector was easily bright enough for a 78-inch wide (90-inch diagonal) image to stand up to the level of ambient light typical for a living room at night, and way too bright for the same size image with theater dark lighting. If you plan to set up the projector in a traditional home theater, that gives you enough brightness for a larger screen. If you need to tamp down the brightness, you can also take advantage of the Eco mode, which is rated at 1600 lumens, and increases the rated lamp life from 3500 hours to 5000.
On the key issue of image quality, the H6500 turned in somewhat mixed results. On the one hand, it handled most issues very nicely. I didn’t see any motion artifacts; it handled skin tones well; and it did a great job both with shadow detail (details based on shading in dark areas) and with resisting posterization (shading changing suddenly where it should change gradually) even in clips that tend to cause these problems.
On the other hand, I saw more noise with the H6500 than with most projectors on our Blu-ray test clips, particularly in black and white scenes. Oddly, the noise was not as obvious with DVD discs.
Rainbows, 3D, and Other Issues
One other issue for image quality is rainbow artifacts, the tendency for light areas to break up into little red-green-blue rainbows with single-chip DLP projectors because of the way the projectors create colors. Some people see these artifacts more easily than others, and some projectors tend to show them more easily.
With the H6500, I saw the artifacts far more often than with most other home theater projectors. Anyone who’s sensitive to them, as I am, may well see them often enough to consider them annoying. If that includes you, or anyone you watch movies with regularly, you should probably be looking at an LCD projector, like the Editors’ Choice Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350 ($1,299 direct, 4 stars) instead.
One other potential issue is the lack of any support for 3D, which is becoming available in more and more DLP projectors. This will obviously matter only if you want to watch 3D content, but note that if you want 3D, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
For those who aren’t sensitive to rainbow artifacts, or don’t find them bothersome, the Acer H6500 is a more than reasonable choice. It doesn’t offer 3D or all the conveniences you’ll find on the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350, like a 2.1x zoom and lens shift controls to adjust the image position, but it’s a lot more affordable. If you want a 1080p projector, and you’re on a tight budget, you’ll also want to take a look at the HD20 and Pro8200, but the Acer H6500 is certainly in the running.
By M. David Stone, PCMag