Acer H9500BD Home Theater Projector Review

Before we get into the picture quality of Acer’s H9500BD, some thoughts on the color accuracy of the images.

A lot of processing goes on from the start of a photo shoot until you are viewing the Acer H9500BD images on your computer screen. As a result, these images are reasonable indications, but not accurate enough for comparing precise color, saturation and other aspects. Note: Selected images relating to shadow detail, and especially black level performance can be very effective at demonstrating how the H9500BD positions itself compared to other home projectors. Different computers, browsers, displays, graphics cards, and software, all affect how the image looks on your screen.

I’ve always said, that all home theater projectors, including this Acer H9500BD, definitely looks better live at your place, than any of our images would indicate.

Acer H9500BD Out of the Box Picture Quality

This H9500BD projector is all about “out of the box” picture quality, since you can’t calibrate the grayscale. Most owners will run the projector with Brilliant Color on, which provides the best color, but can be a bit over the top. The picture is just a bit cool, with reds just barely de-emphasized. That’s also true of skin tones, but of greater interest is the Brilliant Color. The modes show a more accurate color gamut with Brilliant color on.

Brilliant Color itself, is designed to add pop to the image. I can’t tell you exactly how it works, as it affects many aspects of the picture. Acer’s implementation of Texas Instrument’s Brilliant Color pumps up the image, doubling brightness over BC off (and bringing it to those 1500+ lumen maximum measurements). You’ll find the image to be a touch over the top. I say that to enthusiasts. Anyone who can watch most LCDTV’s in their various Dynamic, or other enhanced modes, will likely find the projector tame by comparison.

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Acer H9500BD Projector - Flesh Tones

There wasn’t much to do, in terms of adjustments (see Mike’s notes in the Performance and Calibration pages), so there is no significant difference between “out of the box”, and the adjustments to brightness, contrast, etc. For those of you just getting into projectors, or already in, but not really worried about the search for near perfection, everything’s going to look pretty good. The Acer H9500BD projector’s picture is lively, shall we say, but flesh tones are actually better than anticipated. I attribute that to the combination of the extra dynamic color of BC, but the thinner reds of the color temp.

Ok, that sounds confusing. Let’s just say, perhaps that two wrongs make a right. Oh they aren’t wrongs but the point I’m making is that the skin tones actually look pretty good. Oh, not really top class, but again, fine for most folks. I will say this – I was working earlier tonight and a friend stopped by. I showed him this Acer in both 2D and 3D (sports), then shifted to the Epson Home Cinema 5010. Now that Epson is in the $3000 range, and not a direct competitor. My friend confirmed. There was a very definite quality difference between the two pictures, which my friend picked up on almost immediately, as we switched.

Let’s look at some assorted images, starting with good examples of skin tones. Above, our usual suspects – Gandalf and Arwen, from Lord of the Rings, on Blu-ray.

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

Acer H9500BD Black Levels & Shadow Detail

Let’s start with the H9500BD’s black level performance. Actually, the H9500 seems to have the blackest blacks of the new under $2000 projectors. I’ll call it an ultra-high contrast projector. I suspect it comes close, but can’t quite match the Panasonic PT-AE7000, but impressive nonetheless.

Those blacks are perhaps the Acer’s number one strength, in terms of 2D viewing. Actually dark shadow detail was also rather good.

Below our starship image comparison from The Fifth Element.

Acer H9500BD
Epson Home Cinema 3010
Optoma HD33
BenQ W1200
Viewsonic Pro8200 projector
Mitsubishi HC4000
Sony VPL-HW30ES (LCoS projector $3,699)
Vivitek H1080FD ($899)
BenQ W6000

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