Projector Reviews

Home Theater Projector Comparison Report: Best in Class Awards for 2012-3

Our single real complaint about the Acer related to its incomplete set of color controls, resulting in less than a great calibration. Mike could not get a really good calibration right at 6500K, but rather at almost 7000. Now mind you, this Acer does have some pedigree from the business side, just like that old Acer 530 we reviewed. In this case, it has a wall color feature, for those projecting not on a screen, but on a wall that’s not white. A reader suggested we try the Pink wall setting? Well, it did lower the color temp about half way. Mike said the individual colors (CIE chart) weren’t as good, but ultimately we had two options, neither perfect, but with just a slight thinness on red compared to blue (a touch cool). Few but us hard core would even notice, and I suspect few of us would barely notice without another projector with a better color side by side. The other major 3D capable projector in the class, that we reviewed is the Optoma HD33, and it didn’t calibrate any more precisely. Its whites were even a touch cooler than the H9500BD projecctor.

Certainly none of my family members had any problem with the skin tones, and for that matter, I might say, that DLP look and feel, could offset the slight color temp error, for myself and others demanding a great picture with a lot of “pop” to it.

This Acer H9500BD also has CFI – Creative Frame Interpolation – for smooth motion. Try that on your sports. If you like it on other things too, go for it. CFI is a feature that rarely has shown up in projectors selling for under $1500, which is another feature that helps separate the H9500 projector from the competition.

When it comes to 3D, – remembering that the Acer is very bright as a 2D projector, the H9500BD doesn’t manage to seem near as bright in 3D. No matter, with the exception of the Epson Home Cinema 3010, it seems to be as bright as anything else we reviewed in 3D without looking at twice its price.  That Epson though does have a significant advantage in brightness for 3D. On the other hand, the dynamic iris, and CFI of the Acer,, work in 3D mode, unlike the Epson.

In terms of 2D, that Epson also has more maximum lumens for your family room in 2D or 3D, but when you do want “best” color in 2D (although the Epson’s “best” is a touch better), the Acer’s “best” is almost 30% brighter!  With Brilliant Color on, Mike’s calibration worked out to just over 1100 lumens!  The projector can put 1500 lumens on your screen or wall, at its brightest (zoom at mid-point)

As you will see below, the Acer H9500BD projector, is sharing the Best In Class Award for 2D / 3D home theater / home entertainment projectors with that Epson Home Cinema 3010.

On a personal note, while I’m seen as a big fan of Epson projectors (ok, true), in this case, if I have a choice of this Acer, or the Epson 3010 below, to go into a theater for my own personal use, I’d personally have to go with the H9500BD. The blacks, and the DLP look and feel, are the key. Both models, I should note, have a 2 year warranty, although Epson’s comes with a replacement program.

On the other hand, if I’m dropping these two projectors in more of a family room environment, I’d probably have to sacrifice those better blacks for the extra brightness. The Acer has plenty of brightess for 2D viewing. Because I really enjoy watching 3D, I find the Acer, in a room that doesn’t have good lighting control, to be at a disadvantage in terms of 3D brightness.

I mentioned in the review that 3D performance was imperfect, but fine for most of us. Not for the perfectionist who expects 3D to be virtually as good as 2D.

Overall, I was fully convinced when I reviewed the Acer (fairly recently), that it is a truly a great value compared to most of the competition, and a fine choice for most of the people choosing from the under $2000 home projectors. The Acer H9500BD provides a really impressive picture for the dollars spent! Congrats!

Best in Class Award, 3D and 2D Projector (Tie): Epson Home Cinema 3010

I’ve already discussed a number of aspects of this Epson Home Cinema 3010, in the Acer section immediately above.

The Epson 3010 impressed me with its brightness, first and foremost. Until we reviewed the 2D only Panasonic PT-AR100U, it was definitely the brightest projector around, under $2000. Its lumens measured actually 1972 (and over 1400 calibrated lumens are great numbers). We’re talking a projector designed to tackle a family room. Sure, put this one in your cave if you want, but like the Panasonic, it has been been “built” to endure brighter rooms than almost all other home theater projectors can deal with, and still come out on top.

Black levels aren’t quite up to the Acer H9500 above, but comparable to pretty much any of the other competition at or below its price. Shadow detail is very good. Image sharpness is also not quite as good as the Acer projector, but that’s primarily attributable to the Epson’s “3 chip” 3LCD design, vs. the single chip (DLP of the Acer). Another component of that might be the new lens Epson’s sporting. It’s a 1.6:1 zoom, not the usual 2.1:1 zoom of the previous, and more expensive Epson Home Cinema models. Overall sharpness is reasonably good for a 3 panel or chip device, but not as good as the more expensive Epson 5010, which comes across slightly sharper.

If you want 2D and 3D, and you have a family room environment, where you either can’t fully control ambient light, or want enough on for socializing, say, when watching sports, you won’t find a better projector than this Epson, without spending more. Which would get you to the Epson 5010 or the Panasonic PT-AE7000, both more than $1000 more expensive.

The color accuracy of the Epson is really good. Epson tends to have greens overdriven a bit, since we do not calibrate the individual colors, that is the case. Overall, color accuracy is not an issue, and I would say that the color is still a touch better, and definitely more accurate than the Acer. (Neither should disappoint, except the perfectionist, and those folks are going to have a real tough time in the under $2000 marketplace).