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Acer PH530 Home Theater Projector Review - General Performance

Posted on October 23, 2007 by Art Feierman

Acer PH530 Menus

Most of the key image controls are found on the Color menu shown here:

As you can see, there are 5 presets at the top to choose from. Theater is the primary for movie watching, however, the Acer needs adjustment, so as soon as you do a grayscale adjustment with the Color R, G, and B controls, you'll see the Display mode shift to User.

Color management is at a minimum with only the single R,G,B controls in addition to the standard "stuff": Brightness, Contrast, Color Temp, Degamma, etc.

It controls positioning (front, rear, ceiling, table), and keystone correction (best avoided of course). Also aspect ratio, and sharpness.

The Management is the other key menu. First is lamp brightness (Eco-mode off/on), plus various shutdown options, menu location, user defined startup screen (Bill's Home Theater?)

This menu also tracks lamp hours and offers resets

Acer PH530 Menus Slideshow







PH530 User Memory Settings

PH530 Projector - Remote Control

Click to Enlarge. So Close.

The PH530's remote control isn't backlit. Strike One!

It's immediately obvious, looking at the remote, that it was designed for a business projector. Its got a mouse control, and page up/down features (normally found on business projectors for working with programs like Powerpoint).

Beyond that, it's not a bad remote. You can read the various labels on the picture to the right. Of note, access to color, brightness, contrast and RGB can be accessed by buttons near the bottom, along with direct access to different inputs. BTW, you'll note that the remote has both HDMI and DVI inputs, but the projector only has HDMI.

Click Image to Enlarge

The User Memory is my biggest single complaint with the PH530 home theater projector. Here's the problem:

On first viewing, like with most home theater projectors, the Acer does not have great "out of the box" color balance. It needs to be "calibrated" at least a basic grayscale balance, to get color temp to 6500K for movies, and to make sure "green" isn't over or under represented.

So, when I did that, I had to change the R, G, and B settings on the Color Menu. So far, so good. That moved me from Theater Display mode, to User.

Then, I wanted to get TV/HDTV/Sports looking good. Again, a grayscale balance, but for the coolor color temp associated with broadcast. This required me to change the R, G, and B settings. Again, no matter where I started (let's say Video mode), I end up in User.

That means the original settings I needed for best movie watching are lost.

The solution - write down the correct RGB (and other settings) for movies, and also for any other modes, because the projector will only remember the last one you used.

And that is a pain in the butt.

So, if you really do want your PH530 to look as good as it can, you'll be going into the menus, and making adjustments every time you switch from movies to most TV, and worse, you might need slightly different settings for working with some ambient light, as well as in a fully darkened environment.

Too much work for me, and the PH530's colors are too "off" out of the box to ignore, and still expect to have good skin tones and natural colors.

There are some other home theater projectors with a single User area, or "almost" similar limitations, however, those are usually source specific. That is, they either recognize the input (HDMI, vs component), or more typically, recognize that it is a different device (can tell the difference, say between your Blu-ray player, your regular DVD player, and your cable box). With these, you can then have one set of settings for your movies from Blu-ray player, another setting for your cable box, etc.

But the Acer is doing none of that. It's a shame, and in my opinion, this particular lack of flexibility, is the single greatest flaw of the Acer PH530, and almost certainly the primary reason I cannot grant it our Hot Product Award.

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