Projector Reviews

Acer VL7860 4K UHD Laser Projector Review – Picture Quality 2

Acer VL7860 4K UHD Laser Projector Review – Picture Quality 2: HDTV and Sports Viewing, Movie Viewing – 1080p, 4K with HDR, Wide Color Space (P3/BT.2020), Overall Picture Quality

HDTV and Sports

Overall, I watched most of the sports I viewed in ISF Day, which Eric calibrated as our bright mode. But I also spent some time using REC709, and the way I had it set up wasn’t quite as bright, but was also very good. There are other modes provided, with some variation in color temp, and other settings. Find the one that works best for you, for, most likely, watching with at least a little ambient light on in the room. With ambient light present, I think most folks favor slightly cooler color temp overall, for sports.

For viewing standard HDTV like Blacklist or Colbert, as you can see from the photos in the player below, several modes do well handling skin tones and providing some vibrant colors.

The VL7860 has CFI – smooth motion, under the name Accu-Motion. It works nicely for sports. At minimum, it is a bit aggressive, so definitely a non-starter for me on movies, some will like it only for sports, others will like it for most HDTV viewing (other than movies).

Movie Viewing – 1080p

With 4K capable projectors, I’ve drastically dialed down the amount of time I spend watching 1080p movies from Blu-ray. After all, you are spending more to have 4K capability, so that, I assume is where you want your performance.

This Acer handles movies just fine. ISF Night – which is the best calibrated mode, did very nicely. I watched portions of Casino Royale, and a good chunk of The Hunger Games (1080p) and shot images from both.

Movie mode, which we also provide Eric’s settings for, isn’t quite as good as ISF Night, but then there’s no CMS to calibrate its individual colors, unlike the two ISF modes. It shifts a touch toward red/ red/magenta on the skin tones but it is slightly. Some skin tones look great, others just a bit too much. For Movie mode, I solved by dialing back the saturation a couple of numbers.

Movie mode overall was close, with our settings. Remember, this is a laser projector. Every Acer VL7860 with the same firmware – and anything close in total number of hours on the laser engine, should have near identical color with the same settings, unlike lamps, which have definite piece to piece variation in color output.

4K with HDR, Wide Color Space (P3/BT.2020)

Nice. Definitely the highlight of watching with the Acer VL7860 is watching 4K HDR content. All modes support it, but the Acer has a control for HDR, with settings from 1 to 5, plus off. This is their way of dealing with the inherent HDR issue of brightness, that all projectors and most LCD TVs suffer from.  Their mapping is good.  Overall, 2 is my preferred, but is a little darker/dimmer in the mid and lower brightness areas than choosing 3, my alternate. 3 is brighter seeming, but the colors, as a trade off, seem a bit muted. Yes, it is almost exactly like a gamma difference.  That, of course, makes perfect sense, since 3 is lightening mid and lower brightness objects, diminishing the difference between bright objects and darker, thus overall brighter, and a little less pop to the image.

Overall Picture Quality

If you do nothing with the picture except play around and select the modes you like best, you can enjoy good, but not calibrated color. For this projector, though, post-calibration, the projector performs even better, calibrating nicely.  Impressive skin tones combine with the competent black level performance on movies, etc. thanks to Dynamic Black, by taking advantage of laser dimming to behave like a Dynamic Iris, (thanks to the updated firmware).

The laser engine offers another benefit. Laser engines have inherently a wider color gamut than lamps. So you end up handling REC709 easily, instead of coming up a bit short with lamps.

My only regret, due to issues with the, first unit, is that although HDR works with every mode, Eric didn’t try to calibrate the color to P3/BT.2020, instead of the smaller REC709 space. This is a projector that should be able to get close to P3, thus providing broader color space for even better, richer colors when in 4K and the content supports BT.2020.

So, I can’t tell you how good that is, it should be superior to any of the lamp based 4K UHD DLP projectors. Most of the other lasers (again, because long term, they are probably bigger sellers for business/education than home theater), aren’t supporting P3/BT.2020, such as the Dell S718QL.

Sadly, I find one real problem that would keep me from buying this Acer, despite it being my current favorite, thanks to the laser engine, and the black levels:  RBE! That’s the Rainbow Effect, that you probably have heard of. There’s no good numbers as to what percent of the population is “rainbow sensitive”, but from dealing with it for 20 years or so, it’s not a lot of us. My best guess, 5%+  of the population, but less than 10%. Again, that’s a guess. If you are, that might be a deal breaker, but if not rainbow sensitive, I’d take this projector over any of  the other 4K UHD DLP projectors we’ve had here. It is just one of the three lasers (and one LED engine), of those, and the one with the best blacks.

Perhaps the next generation Acer laser projector will have a faster color wheel. That would make things really interesting for me (if only it had the color wheel speed of the $1,499 BenQ and Viewsonic models). Tsk! Still, if you are the 90-95% who are not RBE sensitive, go for it.

Bottom Line on Overall Picture Quality: Budget allowing for a laser projector, black levels roughly comparable (or at least close) to the Epson 5040UB, it is inherently sharper, with rich, bright colors, and no real dimness at all on 4K HDR content. Sweet!