Projector Reviews

Best in Class – $2500-$5000 Performance Home Theater Runner-Up: Acer VL7860

Acer projector VL7860

What we have here, in the form of the VL7860, is a relatively affordable ($3,999 list price), 4K UHD laser projector. It lacks the motorized lens and lens memory capabilities of the other award winners in this class, but it still has very good placement flexibility thanks to a 1.6:1 zoom and some vertical lens shift!

The Acer VL7860 finally delivers on what I and many others keep telling the DLP projector manufacturers – add a good dynamic iris to enhance black levels.

Acer VL7860 Overview

In the case of the VL7860, which is a laser light engine projector, Acer modulates the laser engine to emulate a fast dynamic iris. Their first attempt at emulating an iris that I got to see, had major issues (see the full review), but the current, shipping versions have succeeded. I am impressed.

That is, I am very pleased with the Acer’s black level performance. It did great in outer space, in Passengers, and just as successful in the dark scenes in Hunger Games – MockingJay, such as the march on the dam!

$2500-$5000 Best in Class Best Performance Home Theater Runner-Up Acer VL7860

I think of the Acer as a bit rough around the edges. It’s missing some features found on the competition. This is a single chip DLP, and that means a color wheel. The Acer’s is slow. I see lots of rainbows. Bad Acer! Fortunately, only a very small portion of the population is Rainbow Sensitive, so this is only an issue for perhaps 5% of the population (there are no good numbers on this).

With calibration, the Acer VL7860 can produce some pretty close-to-accurate color.
With calibration, the Acer VL7860 can produce some pretty close-to-accurate color.

To do a full calibration properly, you need access to the Color Management System, to calibrate individual colors. Unfortunately, access is saved for the two ISF modes – Day and Night – for professional calibrators. You’ll have to decide whether to splurge on a “pro” calibration (it will calibrate extremely well).

With the CMS, the projector produces some very close to right-on-the-money color. Without them, not so much. Seriously though, still very good, but not as great color accuracy without the CMS.

The Bottom Line on the Acer VL7860

No matter, this is a fun projector. Fully calibrated, it cranks out around 1,200 lumens but laser projectors always seem brighter. There’s almost 2,000 lumens in modes with merely very good, not great color. And remember, the brightness of this projector is going to drop very slowly over time, unlike lamp projectors. Also, once calibrated, it will hold that color with little change for years. Nice.

And it is very nicely sharp. It looks great on 4K content. I thought center to corner sharpness might be a little better than some of the other 4K UHDs to roll through here.

Of the projectors in this price range, this Acer intrigues me the most. If it had a faster color wheel, I could see spending a whole lot of time watching it, enjoying its black level performance, combined with that DLP “look and feel,” and seriously comparing the experience against the definitely not quite as sharp JVC.

The Acer is definitely my favorite 4K UHD DLP projector so far, from a performance standpoint, at least for those not rainbow sensitive. Even if a bit “rough around the edges,” I’m a bit jealous – DLP – Laser – Black Levels – HDR… Have fun!

Acer VL7860 Review