Acer H6500 Home Theater Projector Review
The Acer H6500 is a very small, very bright, home entertainment projector. We believe that projectors such as this Acer, are best in your family room on the table (or even ceiling mounted) or maybe a basement or spare bedroom, or occasionally outside at night. It is not really designed for a dedicated home theater.
6/29/2012 - Art Feierman
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.
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
Above, Leeloo (the Perfect Being), from The Fifth Element
Basic Specs for Acer H6500
MSRP: $899, Street Price: slightly less
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: Manufacturer claim: 2100 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.2:1 manual zoom and focus
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: 3500 hours in eco mode, 6000 hours at full power
Weight: 5.6 lbs. (2.54 Kg)
Warranty: 1 Year Parts and Labor
View full specifications here: Acer H6500
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.
Above, from X-Men First Class
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.
Acer H6500 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.
H6500 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!
Image above from HDTV Palladia channel
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.
H6500 Projector - 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
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.
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.
H6500 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.