Acer H6500 Specifications

News And Comments

Acer H6500 Performance

NOTE: We converted the first several sections of this review when we switched to our new site, but the Acer H6500 has been replaced by the newer Acer H6510BD. Check out that review here.

News And Comments

Acer H6500 Image Quality 3

Color and Low-Def

When you are driving a 100 inch, or 130 inch screen, and sitting 10 – 15 feet away, for the most part, you do not want to be viewing low-def  TV.  DVDs are sufficiently bad enough compared to Blu-ray, but standard TV compared to HDTV – not even in the same universe.  I generally avoid standard TV in my theater.

Here’s why:  The image below from Fashion Police – on the E! channel which is not HD.   Arrgh!  OK, it’s no worse than on an LCDTV, except that you have a big screen, and it has terribly low resolution… ouch!  The sad thing is that on a $10K projector, Fashion Police isn’t likely to look much better, but for more accurate colors.

Low Def:   I picked a scene rich in colors, so it wouldn’t look so bad.  The color brightness helps, you should see how bad a dull scene can look in low def, from a standard NTSC (US) TV image.

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Bottom Line on viewing HDTV and Sports

Other than the lack of any “smooth motion” feature, a trait shared by almost all under $1000 projectors, consider the H6500 projector to do a really nice job on sports.  Lots of “pop and wow”!  A rather crisp looking image, etc.  Definitely a contender in the price range.

Moving to other HDTV – you can get some other low cost projectors to produce more accurate color, so if you watch a lot of general HDTV, especially shows where color is important, there are competitors that can be more easily adjusted, and can put a better image on the screen in terms of color accuracy.

Ultimately though, it’s a great, and bright little projector that will prove to be rather good for the sports fanatic wanting a big setup, on a small budget.

3D:  Once again, this Acer is not a 3D capable projector.  If you want 3D for your sports and TV viewing, you can have it, and you don’t have to spend that much more.  If that is your goal, start looking elsewhere.  We’ve already reviewed a couple, but none yet, quite this inexpensive.

News And Comments

Acer H6500 Image Quality 2

Overall Color & Picture Quality

Not bad!  For a projector not calibrated (and lacking a full and proper CMS to allow a full calibration), it should appeal to most casual viewers.  My daughter and her friends think it’s just fine. Lisa can tell, but then, she’ll also watch programming on her Mac Book…, so she’s not exactly a theater fanatic.  Her friends seem mostly oblivious whether I’m running the H6500 or the Epson 5010 I use as a mid-priced reference.  It’s not that they can’t easily tell differences, it’s just not important to them.  Mostly, though, they’ll watch on anything, as will most people.  If that wasn’t the case, Plasma TVs would be handily outselling LCDTV’s as Plasma’s still are considered to produce the more critically aclaimed picture quality than LCDTVs.

Color itself is the issue.  Since it’s not calibrated, even though it looks rather good most of the time, there are scenes where I think – “whatever adjustments that could have been made, would have resulted in an improvement in color accuracy.”  And I say that, while trying to “view” this projector for what it is – entry level, and not for hard core enthusiasts.  Certainly among other sub-$1000 priced projectors a few do have the ability to easily be properly calibrated, but, again, how many entry level projector buyers are looking to calibrate?

Although we did not attempt to calibrate this projector, an invitation to any H6500 owners that do try to calibrate their projector.  If you find some settings you think really improve the color, send them to us, and we’ll add them to the review instead.

While the projector calibrates easily, it doesn’t result in the tightest numbers post calibration. Still, overall image quality is very good in calibrated REC 709, and not much worse without any calibration at all. All the brighter modes, I’d have to say, offer better color, than most other projectors in modes producing upwards of, for example, 1200 lumens.

A few other thoughts:

  • I did view a good amount of sports with this Acer, and it was just fine overall for sports viewing. Reasonably sharp, and very bright!
  • Shadow detail is good! It’s about where you want it to be. Yes, all considered the H6500 could reveal a touch more in terms of dark shadow details, but we’re talking just a touch.
  • We’re talking a really minor difference between the H6500, say, and another projector with “great” shadow detail. Close enough!
  • I suspect the Acer is particularly strong in blues (or weak in reds) primarily when viewing darker objects.  Mid bright and brighter tend to look pretty well balanced.

Performance, HDTV and Sports

Watching sports was just great. Although I really didn’t spend much time in the Bright mode, which is by far the brightest, and measured over 2100 lumens, I can tell you that it’s not too bad.  I have mentioned that Bright mode has a definite green caste to it.  Let me say that heavy green is very common in projectors’ brightest modes.  That’s particularly true of 3LCD projectors but also some DLPs.

Before I talk more about color on HDTV and particularly sports, I did want to remind you that the Acer is “entry level” and that includes not just price, but in terms of some features.  For sports and other fast action, the Acer H6500 does not offer any smooth screen technology, to creatively interpolate new frames to make motion smoother (and maybe even make that hockey puck visible).

For almost all of the sports images, this is how the images were taken, with a goodly amount of ambient light.  For the non-sports HDTV images however, the shutter to the right of the screen is closed (still leaks some light), and the two rear windows the shutters were mostly closed, rather than about half.  None of the images was taken in the brightest mode (Bright), except the one image comparing the different modes (4 images down).

With this projector you only switch to Bright mode if you need every last lumen.  It really isn’t the way you’d want to watch a movie, but it does get the job done for sports, when you need every ounce of brightness.  Try Presentation mode if you don’t need every last lumen, it looks far better and is close in brightness (over 1700 lumens), brighter than all but a handful of projectors can produce in any mode. Or use one of the other modes like Movie/User – at about 1350 lumens, plenty in most rooms with lighting control

Mostly (since my room is well controlled, I viewed sports with my room’s rear recessed lights on, using Presentation mode (2nd brightest – over 1700 lumens), when both the lights and shutters were adding light.  With the room lights turned of, and with a little outside light coming in, I used User (basically Movie with small adjustments to Brightness, (+1) Contrast (0 – no change needed) and a reduction of color saturation from 50 to 45 (or 44), but either way, definitely needed..

I haven’t gone back to check the other reviews, but, I’m pretty certain that we haven’t reviewed any other under $1000 projector that is brighter at their brightest.  A couple of other low cost ones come close, but most are significantly less bright. Only the Panasonic PT-AR100U (now street priced at $1199) is really brighter at its brightest, and also the Epson 3010, but that Epson is almost 2x the price of the Acer H6500 projector. Epson’s Home Cinema 8350 is closer in price (about $1100), but is not as bright.

With 1300+ pretty good looking lumens, the Acer has plenty of power for any night time viewing, even on very large screens.  Consider that it’s more than 50% brighter than the Epson 3010 when the Epson is calibrated. (The Epson has better color).

Regardless of any color inaccuracies, the Acer puts up a bright, and very watchable image on your screen, or it can put up and extremely bright (for a home theater projector) iamge with tolerable color, when you need it.

Often I place the different mode images in the Performance section, sometimes earlier on this Image Quality page, but since I shot then mode pictures using a football game, I figured… “why not here?”

HDTV and Modes

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H6500 Modes

Bright mode

As noted, strong on greens.

User mode

This user mode was based on Movie mode.

Standard mode

Note how similar to User, and therefore also Movie and the three other almost identical modes.

Sports mode

Presentation mode

The second brightest mode, and one with much better color than Bright.  I recommend this mode for most sports and HDTV viewing when you need the extra punch.  I did not so I rarely used it.

Dark Cinema mode

Dark Cinema appears almost identical to Standard, but the gamma seems a touch higher which is why the field seems a touch more contrasty.

Movie mode

News And Comments

Acer H6500 Image Quality 1

Below we discuss the image quality of the Acer H6500 home projector. Below you’ll find even more photos of movies and other content, projected with the H6500.

When it comes to the accuracy and usefulness of many of these images: The projected image -any shifts due to the camera, (a Canon 60D professional dSLR), a Mac laptop for cropping and resizing, etc.  We use Adobe Bridge and Photoshop, then saved “for web” (super compressed).  From there, the image is displayed with your graphics card, monitor, and browser all, further coloring the H6500 photos. In other words, they are useful only to a point, as colors are not going to be all that accurate. Rest assured, the Acer H6500 should look far better in your mostly darkend room, than these images look on your computer monitor.

Out of the Box Picture Quality

In this case, “Out of the Box” picture quality is all we have to offer you.  This Acer is the first home projector (other than all-in-ones) that we haven’t calibrated as part of completing the review.  The “Why?” is simple:

  1. The Acer H6500 lacks a full set of controls to do a full and proper calibration.
  2. We consider it extremely unlikely that anyone (except perhaps a handful of enthusiasts) buying a projector in this price range ($800-$900), is seriously going to consider spending $250 – $300 even $500 to have a low cost projector calibrated, one that isn’t designed to even be well calibrated.

As such, we looked at the many modes, and will comment on them below as we discuss skin tones, and other image aspects.

All considered, if you aren’t someone demanding near perfect color – that is, you already own some LCDTVs and you never bothered or gave serious thought to playing with their color controls, let alone have them calibrated, then you will almost certainly be just fine with the color on this Acer H6500.

All considered, I started with Movie mode, adjusted brightness and contrast (as soon as you adjust anything you “leave” that mode), and you are then in User. Note that you can’t “save” User, so the next time you make changes, the last ones go away.  If you are playing with the color, and settings, please be sure to take notes, so you can go back to the setup you like best when you are done playing.

I’ve watched 50+ hours of content on the Acer to date, and it’s generally a good looking, though not great looking picture.  My daughter and wife have seen it in action and they don’t seem to care much whether I was running the H6500 projector or the Epson 5010 that I’ve been using for comparisions.   The one time I decided to swap out projectors, in mid viewing with my daughter (it was some HDTV program), the first thing she noticed was that the Epson was a lot dimmer.  We went from roughly 1300 lumens on the Acer, down to about 800 for the Epson’s calibrated Natural mode.  A real drop in brightness usually will be the most noticeable thing.  Oh, the Epson’s picture quality is much much better, more accurate on skin tones, but if brightness drops too much, the average non-enthusiast is likely going to be picking the much brighter projector even if, otherwise, not near as good.

Want an example?  Go spend a couple hours at a Best Buy store, and see how often people are choosing the brightest LCDTV they see.

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Flesh Tones

Since I only measured brightness, and not color temps, I can’t tell you how close to 6500K, the Movie/User mode I’m using is.  Skin tones vary in how good they look.  Some of them look great, in other cases, they look a little pinkish caste, but if anything, blues overall, tend to be a bit strong.. That likely indicates that the color balance between R, G, and B are off a bit, and I think, mostly in the lower brightness ranges.

All considered, don’t expect skin tones to be as good or as consistent with more expensive projectors that are calibrated, or where we publish settings for you, based on Mike’s calibration of those projectors.

Again, skin tones typically were a little off, but not bad looking. Of course the colors in these images are also a little off from what was on the screen.

Gandalf images from Lord of the Rings looked rather good.   Note also that the background buildings look nice and natural – did not pick up too much blue, or other color, as often happens to grays. In some other images, though, blues do seem to be a bit strong.

Black Level Performance

The H6500 projector lacks a dynamic iris to enhance black level performance, although it does use some lamp dimming.  The high 10,000:1 contrast ratio is an impressive number for a projector lacking a dynamic iris, however black levels are a bit better than average for entry level projectors, but still shy of most projectors in the $1000 plus range.   That said, compared to popular projectors a step up in price, such as the $1500 Epson 8350 and the $1200 Panasonic PT-AR100U, the Acer can’t keep up. (The image below is aaccidentally blurred. It will be reshot, though the blurring doesn’t affect our points about black levels.)

All considered the H6500 is respectable for the price.  In a family room type environment, which usually implies some ambient light (though not necesarily at night), the black levels of this Acer projector will do just fine.  When you have noticeable ambient light, the differences still remain between projectors with “OK” black levels and those with much better black levels, however the ambient light tends to significantly diminish the impact of better blacks.

That considered, and also that this is not really a projector for the hard core enthusiast, I consider its black levels to be both typical for the price, and fine for doing a basic job in its typical environment.

Comparing Black Levels

Acer H6500
Epson Home Cinema 3010e
Optoma HD20
Panasonic PT-AR100U
Vivitek H1080FD
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB
Optoma HD33

Shadow Detail Performance

Shadow details are typically very good, as one expects on a lower cost home entertainment projector that lacks truly superior black levels.  Because of the overall lighter levels, the least bright area of an image is brighter than on projectors that are ultra-high contrast. Along with brighter black levels, the brightest of those dark shadow details are also lighter, making them easier to see than with those ultra-high contrast projectors.

All considered, the shadow detail of the Acer H6500 home entertainment projector has to be considered very good but, we definitely have seen better in the price range.  Note that better in the price range, may also be from projectors who can’t quite hang in there in terms of black levels.  All considered, shadow detail here is not something to be concerned with.  It’s doing a very nice job and other things are far more important.

Our first series of images is also a favorite for considering black levels, not just shadow detail. For this reason, note the brightness in the letterbox areas (for blacks). For shadow detail, look to the shrubs on the right, behind the tracks, and for details in the darkest area in the middle of the forest behind those tracks. The Panasonic does well enough, with dark shadow detail as easy to spot (if not as dark) as on more expensive, overall better projectors with better blacks.

Acer H6500:  Respectable for the bucks, but on dark scenes like this, lacks the “pop” that a projector with better blacks would serve up.

Comparing Shadow Detail

Acer H6500
Epson Home Cinema 3010e
Panasonic PT-AR100u
Optoma HD33
Epson Home Cinema 8700 UB
Mitsubishi HC4000

Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: Bottom Line

For the most part:  “You get what you pay for.”  I was not at all disappointed with the black level or shadow detail performance of this projector, considering it is about low cost as one can find in a 1080p resolution projector for home.  The shadow detail performance was actually pretty good, besting some projectors costing hundreds more.  Black levels were more “average” for an entry level projector, but even here, I’d say it’s a little bit better than some of the under $1000 competition.  In fairness, several of the last projectors we’ reviewed that were entry level 1080p’s are still on the market two plus year’s later.  In other cases, there’s a slightly updated version (ie. BenQ) that we haven’t reviewed yet.

Still, if your plan is to drop one on a table in a family room, or spare room, or living room, or hang it from one of those ceilings, the Acer H6500 performs well enough in those less than ideal rooms, especially for the price. Again, when there’s more than a slight amount of ambient light (and just having all white walls/ceiling,  means enough reflected light to dilute blacks a good bit), black level advantages are partially negated.  Only partially though, the projector with the better blacks will still have better blacks, just not as noticeable.

News And Comments

Acer H6500 Physical Tour 2

Menus

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Acer H6500 Menus

Color Menu

Color Management Sub-Menu

Advanced Sub-Menu

Image Menu

Setting Menu

PIP Sub-Menu

Management Menu

Timer Menu

Remote Control

As always, I must complain when I see a home projector that comes with a remote control that isn’t back lit. I don’t care if it’s a family room projector, or a very bright projector.  When  you watch movies, the room is usually rather dark and it’s often impossible to read anything on a remote that is not back lit.  Type is a bit small (as are the buttons – this is a small white remote control).

The Acer H6500 apparently has siblings that are business portable projectors, and this remote obviously works for those as well. This projector doesn’t use every button, for example one button is for wireless, but the H6500 has no wireless abilities.

From the top.  There’s a nice red power button (once for on, twice for off).  To its right is a rocker bar.  Rock left for Freeze (image) or right for video mute (Hide).  There’s another rocker bar right below, with Source and Resync functions. To the left, a button for changing aspect ratio.  Right below it, is a button for engaging the digital zoom (discussed on the first page).

Then, over to the right again, is a green button for “e”.  As noted, this is a programmable button where you can choose a function from those offered in the menu.

Below comes the usual navigation area, with 4 arrow keys in a square formation, and a center Menu.  That’s it for the top half.

Below the Nav, are 12 buttons The first row of four buttons allow you to work with the image:  RGB, Brightness, Color and Contrast. After that, buttons include some computer control (page up/down, which is a basic remote mousing function – connected through the USB port).  Then there are individual source buttons, including 1 HDMI and 1 DVI (rather than the two HDMI jacks, which again goes back to “crossover projector” aspects).

It’s a functional remote control.  At least it’s white (black remotes can be so hard to find in dark rooms), since it doesn’t have a backlight.  This remote serves its purpose.  On the other hand, nothing particularly wonderful about it either.  The “e” feature button is a nice touch, but a bigger remote could have more discreet buttons, making it unnecessary.

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Lens Throw

Acer offers a very basic 1.2:1 zoom ratio.  This provides a modest amount of front to back placement flexibility – less than two feet, if pointing at a 100″ diagonal screen.  The closest the front of the projector can be to that 100″ screen is 10 feet, 11 inches , and the furthest is 13 feet 2 inches (numbers are rounded, based on the chart provided in the Acer manual).

Lens Shift

As is typical of entry level DLP projectors for the home, there is no lens shift.  The projector needs to be placed at the correct height relative to the screen, whether ceiling mounted or on a table, to get the proper rectangular image.  Lens shift provides more flexibility but is generally an expensive feature to implement, so rarely found on projectors under $1000.  If you can place it at the right “height” you do have the option of using keystone correction.  This detracts a touch, from the quality of the image, but otherwise gets the job done.

News And Comments

Acer H6500 Physical Tour 1

Appearance

The H6500 projector is pretty clean looking – off-white, a box with rounded corners and top surfaces, and a two tone finish.

The 1.2:1 manual zoom lens is on your right when facing the projector. Focus is accomplished by turning the trim ring on the lens, while the zoom in and out are handled by a recessed ring on the top, just back from the lens.  A control panel is also on the top, centered, toward the back.

The H6500 projector has 3 feet, for table usage.  That gives you a 3 point stance. the front center leg (more of a bar) is adjustable by a recessed button on the front of the projector.  One of the two back feet are also adjustable.  Life would be easier for some, however if Acer went to the trouble of making both rear feet adjustable.  I had to slide things under the fixed rear leg to get the positioning I needed in my room because I set the projector almost even with the screen bottom, so with all the built in lens offset, the image was too high.   It’s a minor complaint, in the grand scheme of things, but, noteworthy I think.

 

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All the inputs and connectors are located on the back of the projector, and are discussed below.

To Filter, or Not To Filter:  That seems to be the question:  Interestingly, the H6500 manual says it has a pair of dust filters – one on each side.  This is very unusual for a DLP projector, as the light path is mostly sealed, so dust really doesn’t get inside.  On the other hand, if you’ve ever seen the accumulation of dust inside a desktop computer after a couple of years (ugly), all that dust can’t be good for heat buildup.   As these filters only call for cleaning – not replacing, every 1000 hours, I like that this Acer has them.  And, should you be mounting this projector, the good news is no problem changing the filters while mounted!

Here’s the issue.  Now that I’ve discussed the potential advantage of having one, the only problem is I’m staring at this H6500 projector and I cannot find any filter door or for that matter any side filters.  I can see  through the grates they show, but I see no filter, nor access.  I’m not concerned.  My best guess is that some business version of the H6500 does have the filters and a slightly different case, or one may have to remove one half of the top of the projector, which you have to do to change out the lamp.

Control Panel

The H6500′s control panel is fairly basic except for the “e” button.  It appears mostly square, with four outer bars in silver, and inside, the four arrow keys in  square configuration.  In the dead center is the Menu button which opens the menu system, or once in it, takes you back up a level.

Looking from the rear of the projector, the lower left button on the control panel is the power.  Once for on, twice for off.  Across from it -(back right) is the “e” button which per Acer “empowers” you.  Basically you can program which function (of those allowed) that button will execute.  Not a big deal, but they gave it a name, rather than “a programmable button”.  Continuing counter-clockwise, in the front right, is the Source button, and the front left has a Resync button primarily for working with an analog computer signal.

There are two indicator lights labeled Lamp, and Temp.  The manual describes what different functions different lights, and flashing patterns indicate. A third light is on the power button (yes the lower left).

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Input/Output

The H6500 projector has a typical selection of inputs and other connectors. In this case, it starts off on the left, with a USB for computer command, then the usual analog computer input.  Further to the right are three color coded RCA jacks for the component video input, and the standard yellow RCA jack for composite video.

Next comes the pair of HDMI inputs.  As is usual – two inputs - but just one circuit, and that means that, as mentioned on the first page, you cannot use two different HDMI inputs for the two pictures when PIP (picture in picture) is engaged. (That’s almost always true of PIP even on far more expensive projectors – you can use 1 HDMI, but must have a different type of input for the other).

Other than the obligatory power receptacle and Kensington lock, also on the back, there is also one 12 volt screen trigger jack, to control a properly equipped motorized screen or other device.

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News And Comments

Acer H6500 Special Features

Dynamic Dimming - Dynamic Black

Typically, on more expensive home theater projectors, manufacturers use dynamic irises to improve overall black levels and contrast. Dimming the lamp has been done for many years by a number of manufacturers, including Optoma and Sanyo but today it is becoming a widely used feature, on both home and business projectors.  Also consider that over time, lamp performance has improved. In olden days for example, I criticized Optoma because their dimming feature for improving blacks was very obvious.

By comparison, dynamic irises definitely do work faster. Still this low-cost Acer H6500 projector is likely a good example of a respectable implementation. I find the blacks improved (better than some other entry level projectors), and I do not find the lamp dimming to be obvious at all. Not invisible either, but only an issue perhaps for the critical enthusiast. I do not consider this to be an enthusiast’s projector. I see far far worse dynamic artifacts on many LCD TVs.

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Picture-In-Picture

The Acer H6500 offers you picture-in-picture. When using it, you may choose from two sizes for the insert picture: small and large. Note please, even large is rather small, probably no more than one 20th of the screen. Good for some things, not great for watching two sports events.  You can choose the source for the 2nd picture as either VGA or Component video. While there are two HDMI inputs, as is normally the case, there is only one circuit and a switch between the jacks, so there are not two circuits to process two separate HDMI sources. At least both VGA and Component support high resolutions.

Long Lamp Life

I figure anyone purchasing an under $1000 home theater projector is at least a bit concerned about overall cost of operation. The good news is Acer offers a very long life lamp. They claim 3500 hours at full power and up to 6000 hours in eco-mode. Those are pretty impressive numbers. Many of you will take advantage of this projectors brightness, which will allow you to run in eco-mode. As an extra benefit, this Acer projector is noticeably quieter in eco-mode. Win-win!

One thing we like to comment on, and that’s whether you can change out the lamp on a projector when it is ceiling mounted.  It can be a real pain to unmount the projector, and then have to remount and align it again.  The good news is that the Acer lamp is behind a lamp cover accessible from the top of the projector.  Of course, a ceiling mount mounts to the bottom (projectors mount inverted), so no problem at all.  That’s not the case for all the entry level home projectors, but these days “most” projectors have made lamp changing without unmounting, the standard.  There are plenty of holdouts though.

Cost of Operation - Electrical

Since we are talking affordability, note that this is a typical DLP home projector, in that it draws about 300 watts at full power (240 watt lamp).  Over all, if it matters to you at all, LCD projectors tend to be more efficient for similar brightness abilities, and likely would draw about 20-25% less juice.  True, that could add up in expensive electrical states like California that use tiers.  Here, (California) residences can pay for incremental electric as much as $.40 kw, vs $.11 (a figure often used as the national average). At 40 hours a week usage at the top CA residential rate, that’s almost $4.80 a week. A more efficient home projector might save $1 a week of that.  On the other hand, for most residents of the US, powering this projector at full power, for 40 hours a week, probably still works out to less than $1.50 a week.  To put 300 watts in perspective, that’s about 3 times the draw of the average new 40″ LCDTV (96 watts).  Considering a 100″ screen is over 6 times the square footage of a 40″, that makes the cost per square inch of picture a real bargain, relative to an LCDTV.

The Lack of 3D

That’s right, The H6500 is 2D only.  If you want 3D, there are plenty of choices, including the more expensive Acer H9500bd, which we considered an excellent value.  That Acer H9500bd tied for one of our top awards:  our Best In Class award for under $2000 home projectors

Digital Zoom

The digital zoom feature allows you to magnify any portion of the screen up to eight times, essentially at maximum magnification 1/64 of the screen area, and fill the screen. This is a portable business projector type of feature and one of the reasons I call this a crossover type of projector. You certainly can use it to zoom in close when watching those football replays to see if the ball was caught inbounds.

Color Controls

This Acer H6500 lacks a full CMS, making a serious calibration a tricky thing at best.  On the bright side, this projector is primarily for folks who just want a respectable (not a videophile), picture, and aren’t likely to own calibration equipment, or plan to spend up to half of what the projector costs to have someone calibrate it.  There are many preset color modes.  Picture quality will be considered on the Image quality page.

Gaming Abilities

As this goes to press, the Acer H6500 will be shipped on its way to one of our Gamer bloggers who will blog about lag times and how well this projector works for various types of gaming. Once that is posted on one of our blogs, (you can access all our blogs from our home page), a link will also be added here, directly to that blog with advice for gamers considering this projector.  Look back for gaming results by mid-July.

News And Comments

Acer H6500 Home Theater Projector Review

The Acer H6500 is a very small, very bright, home entertainment projector. It is not really designed for a dedicated home theater, but rather a family room, basement, spare bedroom, or occasionally outside at night.

NOTE: We converted the first several sections of this review when we switched to our new site, but the Acer H6500 has been replaced by the newer Acer H6510BD. Check out that review here.

Acer H6500 Projector Overview

Let’s start with the basics. This Acer H6500 is a single-chip DLP projector. It offers true 1080p resolution at a price point well under $1000. Officially, street price seems to be $899, however as this projector gets out there on the street, I would not be overly surprised to find it for $800 or less, over time. Unlike the more expensive H9500bd Acer projector that we reviewed months ago, this Acer H6500 lacks 3-D. I guess that truly makes it entry level.  At the moment though (as this goes to press), it is mostly at Best Buy, best I can tell.

Interestingly, this Acer H6500 projector claims 10,000: 1 contrast. It does this without using a dynamic iris, rather it uses the latest lamp dimming technologies. This technique, by the way, is far from new. Sanyo was one home theater projector manufacturer, who’s been using this type of technology for at least a half dozen years. It’s becoming more widely used and it’s working better, and we’re finding it in both business and home projectors. More on it below in the Features area.

Small, and rather portable, one surprise is this Acer’s lack of an internal speaker or two. I would have expected to find audio, due to the H6500′s crossover heritage. Having a speaker inside, would for some, make this a better projector for moving from room to room, or taking outside in the backyard for an evening movie session. No matter, there are other ways of handling the audio.

This small Acer H6500 is rather bright. It claims 2100 lumens, and measures in that ballpark. That’s plenty of lumens for most family room types of setups. When it comes to actual color and picture quality, the H6500 performs rather nicely for its price. That said, the H6500 lacks a full set of calibration controls. There are a number of controls available, however this would not be an overly easy projector to calibrate. And few people buying this projector will spend for a calibration that could cost half as much as the projector. As a result, we are primarily concerned with many preset color modes provided right out-of-the-box.

The good news is many of those modes look really good. As I write this I’ve got the EU football tournament on (soccer as we call it here), and the grass looks really green the skin tones look very good, the picture’s got punch, and I’ve even got a some ambient light in the room.

Below you will find some highlights, and the basic specs. You can also link to more specs and the data sheet. Further down, we’ll look at some of the special features of this Acer H6500 projector.

Highlights

  • 2D projector with exceptional brightness
  • Ready to go, right out of the box, with 8 color mode choices, including Cinema 1, REC709, Sports, Games, and Dynamic, to name a few
  • Dynamic iris for improved black level performance
  • Frame Interpolation (but not CFI)
  • Brightest in class
  • Suitable for theater or family room, particularly good for the living – family – other room environment
  • Excellent placement flexibility
  • Very Long life lamp
  • Zoom lens with wide range, lens shift, for placement flexibility
  • 2 HDMI
  • One year warranty
  • Street price around $1000 – makes for an excellent price/performance value

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Epson Home Cinema 710HD – Competitors-2

Epson Home Cinema 710HD vs. Epson Home Cinema 3010

Very interesting! Once again, we’ve got a 3D projector, the Epson, costing more by about $500-$600 than the Panasonic. Overall, the Epson is the next brightest 2D projector after the HC 710HD, the Panny wins, but it’s close ehough to be a fight. The Epson Home Cinema 3010 also happens to be about as bright as it comes in 3D.

The Epson has the big warranty advantage, with two years, and replacement program, vs. a single year standard warranty.

The Panasonic has tons of placement flexibility, while the Epson is fairly limited.  Without question, in terms of flexibility the Epson Home Cinema 710HD wins. Epson lacks any adjustable lens shift, but has a respectable 1.6:1 zoom vs. the HC 710HD projector’s 2:1 zoom and lots of lens shift.  Thus the AR100 easily wisn this part of the comparison.

Both can be calibrated very accurately.

If you consider all the modes, the Panasonic and Epson are fairly comparable in “best” modes pre-calibration, but in the brightest modes, out of the box, the Panasonic has better color balance. Both can stand improvement, and when both are adjusted for better color (but not fully calibrated since they’d both end up more like “best” mode in terms of brightness. Try our calibration settings, when the brightest mode is adjusted.

Got the extra money? the Epson gives you pretty impressive 3D, the blacks in 3D aren’t great (dynamic iris doesn’t work in 3D), but then 3D images are a lot less bright than 2D, so you won’t miss the blacks anywhere as much compared to 2D blacks where both projectors have dynamic irises working. I had these two projectors over 3 months apart, so it’s tough to be precise as to which as the better blacks. Both are first family room/livingroom projectors, both are capable of doing a fine job in a dedicated home theater or cave, although, of course, neither of them can match the black level performance of more expensive projectors, especially both of their more expensive siblings, the PT-AE7000U and the Home Cinema 5010.

Another distinguishing difference is if you are a serious gamer. The Panasonic projector is reasonably fast in terms of lag times. The Epson 3010, however, not so fast. I normally leave lag time performance to my gamer/bloggers, but, I recently measured the Epson 5010 at 84 milliseconds with all the fancy features turned off (like CFI). I believe the Home Cinema 3010 had similar numbers, per one of my bloggers.

That is a bit slow. Both my our hard core gamers, think about 50ms is marginal for games requiring fast reflexes, etc., with being down around 30-35 or less, being really good. This Panasonic should fit nicely into “being really good”, while, the Epson 3010, is better suited for Chess, Monopoly, and card games, (maybe angry birds?), than World of Warcraft, Halo, or many racing games. Mind you .84 ms, is still less than 1/10 of a second, but consider, if you delay 1/10 of a second while braking your car from 60 mph, your car will travel an extra roughly 9 feet before you react. OK, that wasn’t a great point. Let’s just say that in a gun fight, you don’t want some one beating you to the draw by .84ms.

Epson Home Cinema 710HD vs. Epson Home Cinema 8350

2D against 2D. Epson’s Home Cinema 8350 is slightly more than the Panny, and a year older. It has Epson’s usual 2 year warranty with two years of replacement policy vs. the Panasonic’s basic one year warranty. Both projectors have great placement flexibility. It’s been a long, long time, since I’ve used a Home Cinema 8350.

I can tell you that the Panasonic has the brightness won hands down, and if you’ve got a family room type of environment has a significant advantage. The Epson though with about 500 lumens calibrated has plenty for a dark room with normal screens at sizes up to 110″ diagonal, with no problem. With the brighter modes, the 8350 tackled my 124″ diagonal screen without any difficulty for sports, with modest ambient light, for entertaining.

Both have good color calibration controls, call them a tie in general post calibration, and once again

If brightness is your primary requirement, definitely go with the Epson Home Cinema 710HD projector. If, in your world, you don’t need that rather dramatic difference in brightness, consider these two to be roughly comparable, both with dynamic irises, similar feature sets, etc., with the Epson having the warranty and support advantage.

Gaming: Both Panasonic, and this Epson projector have reasonably fast lag times, making them suitable for some really serious gamers. Our site’s two bloggers that are projector using gamers, write mostly about gaming with projectors – which ones are best at it, and which ones can’t stand the heat – not fast enough for good FPS (first person shooters) and other fast games. Check out their blogs: Pete (BitBound) and Scott S.

The Panny Compared to the Optoma HD20, Vivitek H1080D, and BenQ W1200

These three projectors have all been reviewed at least 6 months ago, the oldest more than a year and a half ago. All are solid entry level DLP projectors. In terms of brightness, the Vivtek’s 800 lumens gets it closest to the Epson Home Cinema 710HD.

When it comes to brightest modes, this time the Vivitek and BenQ are the brightest of the three, with a definitely family room capable 1800 lumens, but that still doesn’t make the contest particularly close. Therefore it what matters is maximum brightness, the Panny has about 25% extra, about the difference between full power and an economy mode.

Placement flexibility belongs of course to the HC 710HD, the others all have 1.2:1 ratio or less, zoom lenses, and no lens shift.

These are all 2D projectors. Feature wise, none of these can match the Panasonic, although one has a better warranty. They are in the same ballpark in terms of blacks or shadow detail, with differences, but no drastic ones. That is to say, if you look back in the image quality page of this report, to the black level and shadow detail area, consider the huge difference between this projector and the much more expensive Epson 5010, or about equally more expensive top of the line Panny, the PT-AE7000 projector. While between those two the differences in blacks a there, but not great, either is signicantly better than this PT-AR100 projector, or any of these three.

Like most of the others, all three of these lower cost – entry level – DLP projectors should be plenty fast for those of you who are gamers.

When considering any of these entry level DLP projectors, figure your first reason for choosing one of them is the “DLP look and feel”. Now consider, DLP projectors are liked better by a fair number of home theater enthusiasts, but for a lot of others, it matters little, or not at all. For almost all of you that don’t tweak your toys, such as play with the settings of your LCDTV’s, most likely you wouldn’t care.

I would say, for the large – maybe vast – majority of first time buyers, don’t worry about the DLP vs. LCD vs. LCoS from a picture quality standpoint. If you get hooked on the wonder of watching on the big screen, not a tiny little 42″ LCDTV. When you decide you want a newer/better second projector, that’s probably the better time to agonize over which technology you prefer.

Sharpness, tends to favor single chip devices, in this case, though, optics quality is also coming into play. Of the three DLP projectors, the BenQ W1200 definitely has the crispest image of the three DLP’s based on my reviewing them. Without playing with sharpening, or dynamic sharpening… The Panasonic is visibly softer than the BenQ, but less so than the other two. A sports fan would really like the BenQ over the Panasonic, for the sharpness difference, but with today’s dynamic controls you can “up” the sharpness – or better said – the crispness of the HC 710HD

From a practical standpoint, the biggest advantage of these three projectors compared to the Panasonic, is that they cost less – typically $100 to $200 less, rather than $999. All produce a very respectable image, worthy of their price point. None is capable of screaming “I’m ready to take on the competition that’s twice the price.”

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