Acer H9500BD Projector - Image Quality
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.
11/20/2011 - Art Feierman
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.
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 and below, 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.
More images we like for considering 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.
Epson Home Cinema 3010:
Viewsonic Pro8200 projector:
Sony VPL-HW30ES (LCoS projector $3,699):
Vivitek H1080FD ($899):
Shadow Detail Performance
Immediately below is our favorite image for looking at dark shadow detail. It's also a good test of black level performance. As you can see in the shrubs on the right and behind the tracks, and also in the darkest portion of the woods, that there's plenty of dark shadow detail. Several of the projectors' images below crush the darkest detail. Not only does it have good black level performance, but very good dark shadow detail, rivaling the Epson, which is also very good.
Epson Home Cinema 3010:
BenQ W6000 (ultra high contrast, 2D, $2000+):
Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: H9500BD Projector - Bottom Line
Let's start with 3D, since I didn't discuss that yet, at least not here. The blacks are very good considering price. In 3D the blacks are really dark, the combination of the general performance of the H9500 Acer in terms of contrast and blacks, combine with 3D, as usual eating up about 75% of available brightness. I even ran the H9500DB, in 3D along with the almost twice the price, higher end Epson Home Cinema 5010. Now that projector lacks dynamic iris functionality when in 3D, but is superb at blacks, beating all but a handful of more, and of far more, expensive projectors.
Unfortunately for the Epson, their dynamic iris stays off. Fortunately, the inherent black level abilities of the Epson, even when not using the iris, are truly impressve.
So, the bottom line - Acer really performs with the top of its class when it comes to blacks and shadow detail. These are key strengths of the Acer H9500!
Acer H9500BD - Overall Color & Picture Quality
Blacks and shadow detail are the strengths. Color, while fine for my wife and daughter, and friends passing by, won't please the more critical folks shopping in this price range. Still there's lots to like. The picture has a lot of image punch to go along with its home entertainment accuracy, in terms of color.
The Acer projector will perform fine for most of us. The question of whether it's the right one, though, comes down to many things and a couple of those things are the trade-offs between color accuracy, and black level performance.
A mix of additional images to show off the Acer H9500BD:
Acer H9500BD Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports, including 3D
The H9500BD has a nice clear image.
The H9500BD's CFI - smooth motion - works well enough. I don't pay close attention, but I did use their implementation on High, and Medium and Low settings. High was fine for sports while low was fine for normal HDTV content. There's more than a little "live digital video look" when applied to movies. I wouldn't recommend using CFI for that, but fine for HDTV.
The lightly cool color of the Acer isn't an issue for sports. That modest 500K shift in color balance towards blue, just isn't something anyone's really going to care about while watching the NFL playoffs, or boxing.
Speaking of boxing, the Acer H9500 projector tacking 3D boxing was exhilarating. Boxing is one of the most phenomenal sports for 3D. Impressive.
A few hundred more lumens in 3D would have been nice, but this projector is reasonable in 3D on a 100" screen.
Acer H9500BD Projector: Bottom Line on HDTV Sports, and also 3D HDTV content
A definite competitor, better in 2D than 3D, since the Acer isn't really bright in 3D. Overall the 3D worked fine, but as is oft the case, my eyes are seeing quaterback bombs almost becoming invisible at times. I see this in other 3D projectors, but this isn't as good as the few others I've encountered.