Acer PH530 Home Theater Projector Review

Home Theater Projector Review: Acer PH530 DLP Projector: Summary, Pros, Cons

It really comes down to this. The Acer PH530, is OK! It is probably currently (10/07) the least expensive, current model 720p home theater projector on the market, and that means plenty of folks will buy them.

And I’m quite sure, that give or take a little frustration with the limited user settings that I have mentioned elsewhere, almost everyone buying the Acer, will enjoy watching it.

Image above is from the DTS sample disc on Blu-Ray. For all my comments about this projector, this image still looks awfully good!

However, for those with just a little extra money – say $75 to $250, you can get more projector for not that much more money. The decision is yours, of course.

I think that the slightly more expensive Optoma HD70 and the Mitsubishi HC1500 are good examples of alternatives that don’t cost that much more. The Optoma is a little brighter, a little better overall in image quality (and a touch sharper), and comes with a 2 year parts and labor warranty, compared to Acer’s one year. Best I can tell, the Optoma can be had for something around $100 or so more, but that will vary over time. It would seem to me, that the Optoma is worth the difference.

Then there’s the Mitsubishi HC1500, which is another $100 – $150 additional, but is much brighter than the Acer or Optoma, and has the best image quality of the three (not by that much) and is also sharper than the Acer. That would be my first choice of the three, if budget allowed, for it’s worth the difference just for the brightness.

The lack of a second digital input, the non-backlit remote, the User memory issue. All can be minor, but they start adding up.

Still, the PH530 does put an enjoyable picture up on your screen that will impress your friends.

You are just going to have to figure this one out yourself.

Acer PH530 projector, Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities

Acer PH530 Projector: Pros

  • Lowest cost 720p projector at the time of this review (10/07)
  • Very compact size
  • A touch quieter than the average DLP home projector
  • Easy to adjust to get good color balance for movies – D65 (6500K)

Acer PH530 Home Theater Projector: Cons

  • A slightly soft image (sharpness)
  • No backlight on remote control, which seems to be an adapted business projector remote
  • User memory – cannot support more than one setting, a real problem if you want (need) a custom setting for movies in the dark, another for TV in the dark, and more for movies, TV with some ambient light.
  • Very limited placement flexibility (as is typical of DLP projectors)
  • Limited color management controls
  • Only one digital input
  • Build quality – adjusting zoom causes image to go out of focus (not that unusual on a low cost projector)
  • Documentation (not that bad really, but needs more explanation)
  • One year warranty

Acer PH530 Projector: Typical Capabilities

  • Pixel visibility (for a DLP projector)
  • Noise levels for a DLP projector
  • Menu layout
  • Physical styling (or lack there of – it’s a dark gray box)
  • Lamp life, in full power mode (2000 hours)

Acer PH530 Summary

The value proposition of the PH530 is simple. If you want a 720p projector, and this is all you can afford, by all means, go for it. Despite the issues raised, it does produce a very acceptable picture to watch.

Other than image softness, the Acer mostly comes up short in non-picture qualty areas. So, you get a pleasing picture to watch, but may find some other aspects to be a bit annoying, or, perhaps, less user friendly, than the competition.

The problem with a home theater projector living off of its low price as its best strength, is that rarely does one projector stay the lowest cost, before something else new comes along, or some competitor drops their price. That said, today, the Acer PH530 is that true “entry level” 720p home theater projector.

And, once you’ve tuned the picture, (try the settings I’ve provided, they should do the trick), you are likely to be very pleased.

I should point out, that just 2-3 months ago, the lowest cost home theater projector I could find out there on the Internet, was the InFocus IN72. A projector, prettier physically, and with a better picture on screen (sharper, better black levels, shadow detail), and better out-of-the-box. That InFocus could be had for $499 to $599, a bit less than this Acer, BUT, the IN72 was only 480p resolution, so, in terms of resolution overall clarity, the Acer has the edge.

Dollars (or Euros) hard to come by? Then consider the Acer, but it’s a tough call.

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