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.
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.
A few other thoughts:
- 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.
- We're talking a really minor difference between the H6500, say, and another projector with "great" shadow detail. Close enough!
- 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.
Performance, HDTV and Sports
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).
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?"
HDTV and Modes
As noted, strong on greens.
This user mode was based on Movie mode.
Note how similar to User, and therefore also Movie and the three other almost identical modes.
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.
Dark Cinema mode
Dark Cinema appears almost identical to Standard, but the gamma seems a touch higher which is why the field seems a touch more contrasty.