Acer S5201M Projector Review
Acer S5201M Color & Picture Quality
The Acer S5201M looks pretty much like any other DLP projector in this price range and suffers from the usual DLP issues with color rendition in its brightest mode, though to a lesser degree than much of the competition. Reds are generally too dark and yellows look mustardy. That’s not to say that photographic images and video look bad, but they lack the depth and saturation of its LCD competition. That being said, if your primary presentation needs are focused on spreadsheets and charts, not photographs, the S5201M’s traditional DLP image sharpness and good contrast ratio will make it a better choice than most of the LCD competition. Once out of Bright mode, colors are quite good overall. Video and Education modes displayed well balanced color, albeit at a drastic reduction in lumen output as compared to Bright mode. Presentation mode offers the best compromise between brightness and color balance. As the colors can be improved through the use of some of the controls mentioned in the Setup and Menu section of this review, you can pretty much tune the projector to your liking, but you’ll be hard pressed improve on the high lumen output/good color of Presentation mode.
As we noted in the past, short throw projectors can often have issues with brightness uniformity, resulting in a noticeable drop in brightness from the center of the displayed image to the edges. The S5201M’s performance in this regard was about average for the current crop of short throw projectors, with a 15-20% drop along the sides of the image and approximately a 25% drop in the corners.
Acer S5201M Projector: Readability
To start, I brought up my usual text spreadsheet to see how the projector handled different resolutions. Starting with its native resolution (1024 x 768), the Acer S5201M provided a very sharp, clean image with any of our text-based source material. Our usual spreadsheet, which has a range of text sizes and colors, was easily readable for all color and size combinations (from 8 pt. to 36 pt. text and white text-on-black or yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds) on an 80” diagonal projected image. Acer’s processing of resolutions greater than the native resolution was equally good, with almost no discernable difference viewing the text spreadsheet at 1280 X 800 or even 1920 X 1080. As we’ve noted in the past, compression and scaling technology has gotten to the point where the display quality of non-standard resolutions and aspect ratios is nearly indistinguishable from the projector’s standard resolution.
A short throw projector like the S5201M can often have issues with readability across the entire image. While the center of the image will be sharp, text can often be fuzzy as you approach the sides and corners of the image. The Acer S5201M maintained sharp text along the sides and corners. Only in the most extreme corners did some blurring appear and it is unlikely that any presentation would include text in such a location.
As is the case with most multimedia projectors, there is an electronic zoom. This can be very handy for pointing out details in photos or charts. You can also freeze the displayed image or mute the image and audio via buttons on the remote.
Acer S5201M Projector: Video Quality
It’s not likely that a short throw, interactive projector would see much use for video presentations, but the S5201M did a good job with DVDs played on my laptop. In Presentation mode, it has decent blacks and skin tones. Presentation mode works well for video or TV viewing during the daytime without having to eliminate all external light. Again, as is typical with DLP multimedia projectors, colors looked much more natural in Video mode. There were the typical (for a low-priced DLP projector) DLP rainbow artifacts, but it’s unlikely that this projector would be used for long videos where these artifacts could be troublesome.
Overall, the S5201M did an acceptable job with video reproduction. With its ability to project on a variety of colored surfaces, the S5201M can be easily adapted to any room. The built-in 5W stereo speakers can provide adequate sound in a small room. For an action film or in anything but a small room, you’ll want to use external speakers.
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