Acer H6500 Projector - Image Quality
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.
6/27/2012 - Art Feierman
Acer H6500 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.
Acer H6500 Projector - 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.
Below: Arwen, also from Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King:
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.
More images we like for considering skin tones:
And that concludes our skin tones images.
Acer H6500 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
H6500 Projector Black Level Peformance
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 accidently blurred. It will be reshot, though the blurring doesn't affect our points about black levels.)
Epson Home Cinema 3010:
Optoma HD20: Another entry level projector, the HD20 is a couple years old, just being replaced by an HD22, which we will review soon enough.
Panasonic PT-AR100U: Despite the Panasonic's dynamic iris, the Acer does come close, but still can't quite match the Panny. The letterboxes are brighter on the PT-AR100U, but note that the image overall is a bit more overexposed. Side by side the Panasonic shoulds till do a bit better on blacks.
Vivitek H1080FD (entry level):
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB ($2199), our 2011 black level champ (all projectors under $3500):
Optoma HD33 (higher price at $1499, a 3D capable projector): Blacks also are better, but again, not dramatically so. The HD33 does have a dynamic iris.
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.
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.
Epson Home Cinema 3010: Epson's lowest priced 3D projector, $1599, is just a touch better at dark shadow detail, (and also a real advantage in blacks). (Note the woods on the right, despite the Epson image being a bit brighter):
Panasonic PT-AR100U: While we believe the somewhat brighter, and more expensive Panasonic bests this Acer projector in terms of black performance, the H6500 is at least as good when it comes to dark shadow detail.
Optoma HD33: A bit more money, but a good 2D/3D, DLP projector, seems about comparable, in terms of dark shadow detail
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 H6500.
Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: H6500 Projector - 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.
Acer H6500 - 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.
A mix of additional images to show off the Acer H6500:
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.
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.
Further, we're talking a really minor difference between the H6500, say, and another projector with "great" shadow detail. Close enough!
Here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:
Again, below, from Lord of the Rings, the grass looks pretty good, and the buildings do have a nice gray to them. 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.
Acer H6500 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports, including 3D
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).
Let's look at the room I used for viewing the H6500 in action, and for doing all the photos:
The first image shows the whole front of the room. As you can see, the side window's shutters are partially open. And you can definitely see the results of that ambient light, which is very evident just to the right of the image. The screen is reflecting plenty of that ambient light back to the viewer - or my camera. There is less on the left side, due to no window the light you see on the left is a back window, reflecting off the the glass of the pinball machine.
In this second image we centered the camera, and cropped in. You can just barely see part of the shutters, butyou can still easily see the ambient light hitting the upper right side of the screen.
The smaller image below shows the back of the room as it was for the images above. The two rear windows have their shutters partially open, plus 7 (50 to 65 watt equivalent) down facing recessed flood lights are also on. All considered, that's a lot of ambient light, even though my room has dark surfaces.
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?"
Bright Mode: As noted, strong on greens.
User mode (based on Movie):
Presentation: 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.
Standard: Note how similar to User, and therefore also Movie and the three other almost identical modes.
One of those other almost identical modes: Dark Cinema (Dark Cinema appears almost identical to Standard, but the gamma seems a touch higher which is why the field seems a touch more contrasty.)
For your viewing pleasure: A few more sports and HDTV images
The soccer (football) image above was taken in the evening - no sunlight, back lights on, User mode.
From the Victoria Secret Fashion Show:
For your consideration, here's the same image taken below projected with the Panasonic PT-AR100U. The Panasonic is a touch less exposed, as you can see from the whiteness of the rug she's lying on.
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 H6500 Home Projector: 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.