Acer H6510BD Home Theater Projector Review

Acer H6510BD Out of the Box Picture Quality

I made the decision to take brightness measurements of the H6510BD, but not to calibrate it.  There are several good reasons I think for not calibrating it.

First, there is a full CMS for calibrating the individual colors, but the color temp controls and the starting CIE charts indicate a rough time of it.   Overall, color is better with Brilliant Color on, than off, if you were to calibrate.

 

Click Image to Enlarge

Second, is the price.  Hard to imagine that anyone buying a projector for less than $800 will spend $250 to $500 to have it calibrated.

And the real reason:  The projector only has one User area, and any change to any mode automatically changes it to User, wiping out any previous settings you have there.

In other words:  Don’t touch that remote!  You could calibrate, but then if you forgot and decided to switch to a brighter mode for a second, all your data input is gone.  If you wrote it down, you could put it all back in again, but that would drive most folks crazy doing that repeatedly.

So, we see the Acer H6510BD as a projector that you bring home, unbox, hook up to a source, pick a mode, and watch.   And watch, and watch.  You know, like the typical LCD TV owner who never touches a control beyond power and volume.   This is a projector for that type of viewer.  Now perhaps if you own all the equipment to calibrate this guy, you can get some very good results, and maybe you’ll remember not to change anything after that. I suspect though, that anyone with the “gear” will want a projector they can really play with, and that is not this Acer projector.

All that said, the Acer H6510BD as some pretty respectable (although not highly accurate) color out of the box.  It watches well.   Start with perhaps Standard, or Dark Cinema.  There are limited controls, but most of the modes seem the same but for the gamma they default to.

So, power up, play some content, try a few modes, adjust the gamma, decide whether you like Brilliant Color On or Off, etc.  All that will be your User mode, which will be perfectly acceptable to most for whom this projector is best designed for.

Acer H6510BD Projector - Flesh Tones

With Brilliant Color engaged, with the color temp running the default second setting CT2, skin tones look pretty darn good!  A touch “over the top” but that’s typical of most “Brilliant Color” on projectors.  Basically some extra pop to the picture.

I found CT3 to be interesting, but too much of a purplish cast.  Also CT2 is by far the brightest of the 3 color temps provided, so it also works as a great choice in the family room with ambient light.  The Star Trek image below was taken with the our User using CT2, gamma on 1, brightness at 49, and contrast at 48.  Not bad, not bad at all.

Only when using CT3 color temp did I sometimes find skin tones to be significantly purple red cast and inaccurate enough to avoid.

Gandalf images from Lord of the Rings looked rather good.   Because of the tendency to be a bit oversaturated and with the Acer lackig a color saturation control, this first image of Gandalf  is the default.  In the image right below I reduced color saturation with Photoshop to -10, which improves it for your viewing pleasure here, but note that often the images seem slightly over saturated, something that will quickly vanish if you have any significant ambient light present.

Below are three James Bond images from Casino Royale. Each has a different lighting scenario. The first – full sunlight, the second image; indoor fluorescent, and finally, a nighttime photo. As one would expect, that causes each image of James Bond – Daniel Craig – to have different looking skin tones.

Acer H6510BD Black Levels & Shadow Detail

H6510BD Projector Black Level Performance

Acer’s H6510BD Projector:  This is our standard “starship” image from The Fifth Element.  We intentionally overexpose it by several F-stops so you can better determine how black the blacks are.  Look for the background black behind the stars and in the letterbox area.  A great projector in terms of black levels, maintains those two areas as extremely dark while the starship would be drastically overexposed (making this image almost look normal).

Epson Home Cinema 3020:  Obviously the Epson image is a touch less overexposed, but the difference in blacks is still obvious.  The black level advantage falls to the Epson, but while a bit better, it’s still a far cry from being an “ultra-high contrast” projector, as we like to call projectors that have dramatically better blacks than these, and really look great on very dark scenes, something no entry level HT projector can accomplish.

Panasonic PT-AR100U: The PT-AR100U has a dynamic iris, a good thing since 3LCD projectors like this Panasonic start off with less native contrast.  Ultimately though, the PT-AR100U has superior blacks.  The Acer H6510BD isn’t dramatically less competent, but it is “entry level” even if better than a couple of others.  The Panny is a small but real step up in terms of blacks.

Epson Home Cinema 5020UB ($2599).  This is what the best black level performance under $3000 looks like:  Note that the blacks are still much blacker than the Acer, while the starship is significantly more overexposed.  This is where you apply the expression “difference of night and day”.  True, it’s not that great (daylight would be a real problem), but the Epson Home Cinema 5020 represents, the major next step in performance, which puts it closer to $10,000 and $20,000 projectors than to most $999 or less projectors.

Optoma HD33 (higher price at $1499, a 3D capable projector): Blacks also are definitely better, but again, not dramatically so.  The HD33 does have a dynamic iris which we can give credit for the difference.  (this image has not yet been converted to grayscale)

Shadow Detail Performance:  Acer H6510BD Projector

Shadow details of the Acer H6510 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 H6510BD home entertainment projector has to be considered good but not exceptional even considering the under $1000 price point.

Our first series of images is also a favorite for considering black levels, as well as 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 H6510BD:  Respectable for the bucks in terms of shadow detail, but on dark scenes like this, lacks the “pop” that a projector with better blacks would serve up.  Also, though, more shadow detail is revealed in the woods and lower right area above the tracks on some other projectors than this one.

Epson Home Cinema 3020: Epson’s lowest priced 3D projector, $1599, is both slightly better at dark shadow detail, and a touch better in blacks. Hard to tell here because we are just starting to convert these train images to grayscale, as color shifts on these long overexposures can be distracting.

Panasonic PT-AR100U: While we believe the slightly brighter, and hundreds of dollars more expensive Panasonic bests this Acer projector in terms of black performance, the H6510BD is at least as good, make that slightly better at dark shadow detail.  It would be helpful if this Panasonic image was brighter.

Optoma HD33: Almost twice the price, but a good 2D/3D, DLP projector, seems about comparable, in terms of dark shadow detail, but a touch better at blacks.

Epson Home Cinema 8700UB: Still the black level champ of the projectors in the $2000ish and lower ranges, it also easily beats the Acer at shadow detail.  All’s fair, considering the Epson sold for almost 2.5 times the price!

Mitsubishi HC4000: A favorite among lower cost DLP projectosr, that sells for over $1000.  Comparable shadow detail, and, though the Mitsubishi lacks an iris or lamp dimming, it is every bit as good on blacks as the H6510BD.

Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: H6510BD Projector – Bottom Line

“You get what you pay for.”  That is a good adage for describing most entry level home projectors when it comes to blacks and shadow detail.   I was not at all disappointed with the black level or shadow detail performance of this projector, when I considered it’s rock bottom “entry level” price point for a home 1080p resolution projector.  The shadow detail performance was actually pretty good, holding its own some projectors costing hundreds more.

Really it comes down to ambient light and your room.  If you’ve got some ambient light in the back of your room, it will negate most of the difference in black level performance in projectors from $700 to $1500. With that in mind:

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 H6510BD will perform well enough in those less than ideal rooms, with their off white walls, and less than full control of light. 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, even as ambient light levels increase.

Acer's H6510BD Projector:
Panasonic PT-AR100U
Epson Home Cinema 5020UB
Optoma HD33
Epson Home Cinema 3020
Vivitek H1080FD (entry level)
Acer H6510BD
Panasonic PT-AR100U
Optoma HD33
Mitsubishi HC4000
Epson Home Cinema 3020
Acer H6500
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB

Acer H6510BD - Overall Color & Picture Quality

One more time with enthusiasm.  color and picture are reasonably good for a projector that isn’t calibrated.  This is a projector for those needing brightess, and less critical of image quality.

In other words, a projector for the kind of folks that just want a larger LCD TV.  The kind of folks that normally don’t tweak or adjust, just turn on and watch.  If that’s you, this is a really good low cost projector that can fill a 100 or even 150″ diagonal screen without trouble, in any decent room.

Color itself is the issue.  Good enough, but not “enthusiast” level.  The kids won’t care, my wife (definitely the “LCD TV” type) wouldn’t care, but many of our readers really would.

Since we did not attempt to calibrate this projector, I extend an invitation to any H6510BD owner that does 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 so others can try them.

User Mode
Dark Cinema Mode
CT3 Mode
CT2 Mode
CT1 Mode
Bright Mode
Sports Mode

Acer H6510BD Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports, including 3D

I 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 H6510BD does not offer any smooth screen technology, to creatively interpolate new frames to make motion smoother (and maybe even make a hockey puck visible).

This Acer is about as bright as projectors near its price get.  Part of that is helped by the slow color wheel, but the bottom line is that there are a healthy number of lumens.  For those of us who are sensitive to the DLP “rainbow effect”, I recommend passing on this Acer, and going with an alternative with a faster color wheel such as the BenQ W1070, which in terms of rainbows is much improved!

 

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) image with tolerable color, when you need it.

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.

Acer H6510BD Home Projector:  Bottom Line on viewing HDTV and Sports

The H6510 does a very repectable job on sports viewing.  The images are normally nice and bright, with reasonably good color and very good sharpness.

You’ve got over 2900 measured lumens in Bright if you need it, although its color (as expected is off). Still this projector is in the 1200 to 1800 lumen range with its pretty good color modes!  That’s about as bright as things get these days, or close enough with good color.

Of course, there’s no “smooth motion”, but none if the Acer’s direct competitors (near the price) offers CTI either.

Other HDTV content is a bit trickier, some really “demands” accurate color. When watching some Discovery HD, and some other serious HD content, I definitely viewed scenes that could have been more color accurate.  That includes skin tones.  Again, skin tones are reasonably good, but sometimes you just wish for better.

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