Posted on June 22, 2018 By Art Feierman
Acer VL7860 4K UHD Laser Projector Review – Performance: Brightness, Affect of Zoom Lens on Brightness, Difference In Brightness and Behavior of Light Modes, Image Noise, Sharpness
The VL7860 projector with 3000 lumens claimed, and a laser light engine, performs “brilliantly.” Consider, that typically when comparing two otherwise similar projectors outputting the same number of lumens, a laser projector normally seems more than slightly brighter, a real plus, especially if fighting ambient light.
This table’s measurements are taken mid-zoom. Bright mode is brightest, and with the lens set to wide angle and the projector at full power: 2878 Lumens! Only about 4% below claim, most projectors measure worse than that. Very nice. Problem is, of course, is that is the Acer’s brightest mode, and not pretty, as is the case of the brightest mode on almost all projectors. The great news is there are any number of respectable looking modes with as much as 1900 – 2400 lumens at wide angle. Even fully calibrated the projector churned out over 1100, enough for a 150″ diagonal screen in a fully darkened theater. Of course in this day and age of HDR, one can’t have too many lumens.
From the chart above, If you can place the projector as close to the screen as possible to fill it (wide angle or zoom-out), you will have about 8% more lumens than if the projector is further back, with the zoom at the middle range. That’s very little difference when viewing. If you place the Acer as far away as possible (telephoto, zoom in), the drop is very close to 25%, which is significant, although still hardly massive. And it is a similar difference in brightness as you would get going from most projectors at full power to eco mode.
The Acer’s Eco mode drops brightness a bit less than most. Typically projectors drop 25% to 35% in brightness when going to a typical Eco mode. The VL7860’s laser light engine, however drops a little less than 22.5%. I would say that’s surprising, in that with a laser, I would have expected, perhaps more than one eco mode since Acer should be able to dim the laser whatever they want to 30%, 55%, etc.
I look at a few things for my comments on Image noise. Mostly however, I focus on two things. Mosquito noise, which is sort of background noise you can typically notice if up close on a bright scene with clouds but visible in many bright large areas. The other is panning artifacts, that is, motion noise. I normally do not mess with preset image noise controls.
The Acer seemed unusually good for a DLP when it came to the mosquito noise. That did impress me, as that extra noise is a minor DLP weakness as far as I can tell. As such I thought it better than most of the 4K UHDs that are piled up around here, etc.
As to the motion noise feeding the Acer the neighborhood panning scene a few minutes into the movie RED, I thought it was about typical, definitely a fair amount of judder: Trees, mailboxes, houses all shuddering as the pan continues. Sounds horrible, but the Acer was typically good, on this torture test. The Judder is obvious, but it’s still better than the same scene on either of the 4K projectors Sony offers under $10K, (that scene and other pans of exactly this speed seems to be a Sony weakness). Fortunately for everyone Acer, Sony, etc.I’ve only found a few scenes that react this badly, and that’s with some tips from some the community.
There are many other types of image noise, but on this and most projectors I’ll report on other noise artifacts if they seem out of the normal.
Bottom line on image noise. Cleaner on mosquito noise, a good thing, but overall typical, which is fine in this day and age, after almost 20 years of image processing refinements (some of the latest, of course being 4K HDR content).
In the photo player above find photo pairs from 4K HDR, and 1080i. Only the last pair is 1080i, yet even there, the scoreboard looks pretty sharp despite he magnification and the lower res signal. Click to enlarge, and can scroll through the photos. On the enlarged images, you can click he upper right hand corner for even closer – maximum resolution.
Down below, I have provided our usual image comparison including closeups of the lab credits scene from Ghostbusters 2016. In addition to the Acer image, you’ll find the same closeup of the lab scene credits taken from a wide range of competitors.
This starts our sharpness comparison, the lab credits from Ghostbusters 2016. The others are close-ups from various projectors, lower res to true 4K.
Acer VL7860 4K closeup very nicely sharp, compare closely to the true 4K Sony next.
The true 4K Sony VW385ES does appear more optically sharp but its a close thing. Image processing settings come into play.
This is the entry level Sony true 4K projector ($4999). Sharp without the hardening look to an image that starts to happen with lots of processing.
The Vivitek is a lamp powered DLP using the same chip as the Acer. You take a look.
The 5040UB is a 1080p pixel shifter but 2x, not 4X like the BenQ. It's also a three chip. It is a bit softer than most of these. (Sit two feet further back.)
The BenQ HT2550 is one of the new lower resolution 4K UHD projectors, and lower cost, using the lesser 1920x1080x4 chip, but it still looks nicely sharp
The Viewsonic PJD7828 is a sub $1000 1080p DLP projector that is being fed 1080p content, of course, not 4K. This is here to keep those "4K"s honest.
Above: In order: Acer full screen, Acer close up, Sony VW385ES (4K), Sony VW285ES Vivitek HK2288 (2716x1528x2), 5040UB (1920x1080x2), HT2550 (1920x1080x4), and finally a straight 1080p projector running 1080p content, the sub-$800 PJD7828HDL. There are captions.
Enjoy the comparisons.
In this group, my theory is that the VW285ES and VW385ES are the only true 4K projectors (they do 8.3M+ pixels without having to overlap the pixels). Yet, overall, all of these projectors are very similar. Although there are four different resolution projectors shown here, all claiming to run 4K content, and having different pixel configurations, the bottom line is it comes down to pixel size, optics, and image processing. For example, the BenQ, HT2550 – it has the same size pixels as the Epson 5040UB but pixels shift two more times. Whether that brings extra visible detail is questionable, or the BenQ just takes advantage from being a single chip design, not 3.
If you have a 100″ diagonal screen and are sitting 12-15 feet back, it’s unlikely that you’ll spot any actual sharpness differences, between any of these. At 8-10 feet, however, you’ll start seeing some differences. Whether that translates to sharpness, detail, hardness, will depend, but still not great differences.
Even the true 4K Sonys which in theory could be significantly better than the rest, have to deal with compromise. They are Sony’s least expensive 4K projectors, and lacks the higher quality optics than Sony provides on their over $10,000 4K projectors. Oh, I give the Sony the natural advantage of being able to honestly do 4K – with one to one pixel mapping, something only a true 4K projector can accomplish with 4K content.
Very bottom line: The Acer is plenty sharp, but differences between most of these can be negated by siting a couple of feet further away. That is seating distance and screen size matters.
If you put up test patterns, you will see different performance from the different technologies and native resolutions. Still, on typical 4K content like movies or even sports, figure that the truly significant differences between 4K capable projectors will be in other aspects, not sharpness.
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