Posted on November 9, 2018 By Chris Kahl
Acer S1386WHN Short Throw Projector Review – Performance: Brightness, Contrast, Audible Noise
Acer makes the claim that their S1386WHN has a brightness rating of 3,600 lumens. Most projectors on the market fall in around 25% below their claim, with lower measured lumens than what they advertise. While we look for claims that fall within this 25%, this model measured in considerably less, coming in at 2,162 measured lumens in its aptly named Bright Mode, at only 40% of its advertised lumens.
Now that that’s out of the way, whether or not a projector hits its claim is less important to us than how the projector performs the duties for which it was intended. In all color modes, the Acer S1386WHN does pretty well, cutting through a fair amount of ambient light. The photos below illustrate this projector’s ability to projector a decent image with the overhead room lights on – including two lights directly over the screen. These images were projected in Education Mode.
Web content projected with the lights off.
Web content projected with the room lights on, including two lights directly above the screen.
Education Mode measured in at 2,119 lumens – not bad brightness for that color, certainly better than Presentation mode, which we’ll get to in a minute. The three configurable modes, User 1/2/3, were based off of Presentation mode by default, and measured in with a brightness of 2,048 lumens. Third brightest was Standard Mode, measuring in at 2,040 lumens. Next, Video Mode measured in at 2,033 lumens and offers pretty good color, considering the price point and brightness.
I was disappointed with the true Presentation Mode, given how bright it was in the three user configurable modes, as it measured in at 2,008 lumens – that’s still plenty bright for most practical applications. Bright Mode using the ECO setting measured in at an expectedly lower brightness, at only 1,471 lumens – but that’s still very usable even in environments where there’s always some degree of ambient light.
I really liked Standard, Video and Education Mode for their combination of good measured brightness and vivid, accurate color. The images seen in this review were projected with a diagonal measurement of 71 inches, and were plenty bright, and still performed acceptably well in ambient light. This projector is capable of images of up to 300 inches diagonally, but remember, as the size of the image is increased the brightness is reduced. This is a fixed focal length short throw projector, so plan accordingly.
We don’t pay too much attention to the contrast ratio, but Acer claims the S1386WHN has a contrast ratio of 20,000:1. We don’t measure contrast here. What we want to know (and what you want to know) is “how black is black?” The real question is, when something is supposed to be black, is it dark enough to know it’s supposed to be black?
Well, it’s decent, but it’s not black. There is a special feature for image enhancement we discussed back on the Special Features Page, called Dynamic Black. As best I can tell, Dynamic Black doesn’t do anything with the black levels, but actually increases the brightness of the image. You can tell what is supposed to be black is trying to be, but it’s not quite there. I’ll say it’s good for classroom, conference room and boardroom projectors, but if you require your blacks to be closer to true black, look elsewhere.
Acer lists the noise rating for the S1386WHN operating in normal mode at 32.0 dB. I don’t think it’s quite that loud. It’s noticeable, but not distracting by any stretch. In ECO mode, I have to strain to hear it if I’m near the projector. From 8 feet away, I can’t hear it at all. Something that works to an advantage in respect to noise reduction is the hot air exhaust is directed out of one of the front corners of the unit, toward the screen and thus away from the audience.
That’s all for our discussion on the performance of this short throw projector. The final page of our review will be a summary and recap of this review. We’ll list some pros and cons of the Acer S1386WHN to help you decided if this DLP, short throw projector will meet the needs of your classroom, conference room or boardroom.
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