Acer V7850 4K DLP Projector Review – Picture Quality

Acer V7850 4K CAPABLE HOME THEATER PROJECTOR – Picture Quality:  Out-of-the-Box Color Accuracy, Skin Tones for HD and UHD Content, Black Detail and Dark Shadow Detail Performance, UHD/HDR Picture Quality, Performance with HD TV Content

All of my viewing of the picture from the V7850 was done using a Stewart Deluxe Wallscreen using their professional Snomatte fabric.  This is a reference quality matte screen material with a gain of 1.0 and is very color neutral. 

Out-of-the-Box Color Accuracy

The above screen shots provide some indication of the out-of-the-box color accuracy for each of the projector’s Color (Picture) Modes.  Overall, the color accuracy was somewhat better than it appears in these photos.  However, the brightest picture mode, that Acer calls “Bright”, did appear very green and is not really usable in a home theater applications.  Going from this bright mode down to a picture mode with better color accuracy decreased the projector’s light output by around 500 lumens, but the difference in color accuracy is well worth the reduction in brightness.

Skin Tones for HD and UHD Content

I found that the better of the out-of-the-box picture modes tended to have too low (I.e., too warm) a color temperature that could be improved by changing the default color temperature menu setting from the default CT2 to CT3.

The above photos were taken after the projector had been fully calibrated (for both color temperature/grey scale and for color gamut).  I would note the color accuracy appeared more accurate when viewed in person than they appear in these photos.

The first 3 screen shots are from the 4K UHD Blu-ray release of the movie “Lucy” the next 3 from the HD Blu-ray release of “Casino Royale” and the final 4 from the HD Blu-ray release of “The Fifth Element.”

I must admit I was not very impressed with the color performance of the V7850 when I first set it up using the factory preset Color Modes.  Of these basic color modes only the User Mode allows the user’s settings to be saved in memory.  The User Color Mode limits the calibration to the basic picture adjustments plus color temperature/grey scale and does not support calibration of color gamut.  I found the color accuracy to be improved after this limited calibration of User Color Mode and would rate the overall color accuracy as fairly good.  However, it was only after doing a full calibration (incl. color gamut) using a ISF Color Mode was the color accuracy improved to what I would consider very good and this was true for viewing HD and UHD video content.  Overall, the skin tones appeared very good for both HD and UHD content and overall were noticeably more accurate that with any of the out-of-the-box picture modes or with the User picture mode (with its more limited calibration).

V7850 Black Detail and Dark Shadow Detail Performance

Acer, like many other projector manufacturers, publishes a dynamic contrast ratio number (1.2 million to 1 in this case) that has virtually no relationship to what the real contrast and black levels you will actually get.  I measured under 1400:1 with two of the out-of-the-box color modes and blacks were displayed as only moderately dark greys.  The projector offer a feature called “Dynamic Blacks” which Acer describes as:  “DynamicBlack™ improves image contrast by analyzing on-screen content frame-by-frame and then dynamically adjusting lamp power to optimize black levels. The result is blacker blacks and whiter whites, enabling viewers to enjoy all the details of even dark scenes.”   However, I didn’t find this feature very effective at decreasing black level or improving contrast when viewing actual video content.  This is the case because the lamp cannot be dimmed and brightened fast enough to provide an effective solution.

Also I noted this projector has a lot of light leakage coming from the front air exhaust vent (seen in the photo below to the left of the lens) and this certainly doesn’t help with the already moderately high (for a home theater class projector) black level.

Acer V7850 – like leakage from exhaust vent

The first three photos above are screen shots of the “night train scene” from the movie Casino Royale.  All have been over-exposed to better show shadow details.  The first one is in color while the 2nd one is in black and white both when using Acer V7850 as the projector.  The 3rd one is for comparison using the Optoma UHD65 projector.  While exposure differences between the 2nd and 3rd photos may make direct comparisons difficult, the Optoma UHD65, which uses the same DLP chipset as the Acer V7850, appears to offer a little better shadow details than does the V7850.   The 4th photo is the spaceship scene from the movie “The Fifth Element” using the V7850 projector.  In this case the background space is displayed as a moderately dark grey, but no inky black here as you would see with higher contrast projectors.

Overall V7850, with is “entry-level” black levels, simply is not in the same class as several the 1080p pixel shifting models including the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB or the JVC DLA-RS440.   Dark scenes looked rather flat, with little depth, and details in the darker areas of the image were lost.

1/6/2018 UPDATE:   

It should be noted in side-by-side comparisons with the similar priced Optoma 4K DLP projector, the Acer V7850 had visibly better (i.e., lower) black levels and better overall dark scene performance.  So even though the black levels were not all that great for a home theater projector, they were better than with some competitor’s 4K DLP projectors.

UHD/HDR Picture Quality

The first two photos above are screen shots from the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of the movie “Lucy” and the final four are from the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of the movie “Passengers.”

UHD offers 3 possible enhancements over standard HD video.  Of course there is the increased resolution (i.e., the 4K part of UHD) and I discuss how the V7850 does in that regard below.  But first let’s talk about the other 2 aspects of UHD.

Virtually all movies being released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are supporting High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Color Gamut (WCG).

The V7850 cannot display wide color gamut (WCG) as its native color space is essentially limited to the more restricted Rec. 709 gamut, as used with HD video, including regular HD Blu-rays.  So the best the V7850 can do is to convert the WCG to the more limited Rec. 709 color space for display and it does a reasonable job doing that.

UHD/HDR releases are being authored with different brightness target levels.  Some HDR enabled releases are being authored using UHD monitors with a 1000 nit max. brightness level (about 292 foot lamberts) while others are using UHD monitors with up to a 4000 nits max. brightness.  Even the lower 1000 nit level is 10 to 20 times the typical brightness levels seen in projector-based home theaters.  The V7850 offers HDR settings for Off plus 4 different levels of HDR, basically 4 different gamma curves.  For the few HDR movies I viewed, I found a setting of 1 or 2 worked best.  When displaying a program with HDR the user will need to see which HDR setting on the V7850 looks best for that specific title.  Also it may be necessary to adjust the brightness and/or contrast setting to get the appropriate the black level and white level respectively.

Even after some adjustment of the V7860’s available controls, I found the HDR performance was only fair.  I suspect this is at least in part because of the projector’s moderately high black level and the limited native contrast, which limits the extent of the available dynamic range that can be displayed.  In any case the HDR version of the movies I viewed did display a little more ‘pop’ in the image as compared to viewing the standard dynamic range (SDR) standard HD Blu-ray release of the same movie.

The photos above show a comparison from of the image details (i.e., resolution) when the input is from the 4K/UHD version of the Blu-ray disc for the move “Lucy” vs. from the regular 1080p version of the same movie.  The 1st photo shows the full image frame while the 2nd and 4th images are close-ups from that full frame with a 4K/UHD input and the 3rd and 5th images are similar close-ups with the 1080p input.

As for image detail, the V7850 did a very good job at displaying the added details from the best quality 4K/UHD releases I viewed from my collection of Ultra HD Blu-ray movies.  Any difference from what you might see, in terms of fine details within the image, in comparison to a projector offering native 4K resolution would be subtle.

Performace with HD TV Content (Sports, TV, etc.)

The above photos are screen shots from various channels offered on Directv.  These include CNN, Sports Mix, MSNBC, the Golf Channel, ESPN and the NFL Network.  All of these are in native 720p or 1080i format and the Acer V7850 is doing the upscaling to the projector’s UHD display resolution.

I found the upscaling to offer fair performance.  While descent and not out of line with a projector in the price range, the upscaling performance was certainly a not as good as with the best I’ve seen, such as the Sony implementation for their native 4K projectors, but it on a par with what you might get from a mid-level consumer UHD TV or certain of the other pixel shifting 4K capable projectors in this price range.

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