I'm back after a bit of a break, (recently moved to a new house), but now I'm settled, and I've got a budget gaming projector shootout between the Acer H5360 ($499) and the Epson 710HD ($599). Both of these projectors are 720P native resolution and represent a good value in their price range. The Acer is a DLP technology based projector and the Epson is 3LCD. Read on to find out the strengths and weaknesses of each and which projector I would choose.
First off, both of these projectors are portable, both coming with over the shoulder carrying cases. In a previous review, I dubbed the Optoma GT750 the king of portability. Both of these projectors give the Optoma a run for its money, with the edge going to the Acer H5360. I couldn't believe how small the Acer H5360 was when I took it out of the box. At first glance, I thought the Acer H5360 didn't come with a remote, but later found out that the remote was built to slide right into the top of the projector when not in use. There are some down sides to this cleverly designed remote. Although it may add some points to portability, it is not the most intuitive interface and could be lost fairly easily in the typical, messy gamer room.
Adding to their portable appeal, both of the projectors have a single 2W speaker. It's not much, but it allows you to have some sound without having to worry about lugging some speakers along with the projector if you're bringing it somewhere. One valuable feature both projectors were missing is the audio output. Neither had an audio out, which means you would need to route the audio separately from your source rather than simply connecting your material via HDMI and breaking out the audio from the projector. I say it's a tie here.
In placement flexibility, both of these projectors function very similarly. Neither have any physical lens shift, which kinda limits these projectors to be placed "front and center". Both could be very easily table mounted. Honestly, they are both so small you could keep them in a drawer and pull them out when in use. Another tie here.
As far as overall picture quality, both the Acer H5360 and the 710HD performed well. They both have fairly limited image control settings, but the preset modes that ship with the projectors were very playable. I was impressed by the brightness on both projectors, with the edge given to the Epson. As stated before, I typically choose best mode over brightest mode
, and the Epson's best mode (theater) seemed a bit brighter to me than the mode I chose on the Acer H5360 (game mode).
Having said this, I think the Acer's sacrifice in brightness went to a very worthy cause. I can't say whether the black levels on the Acer H5360 were a bit darker, or the shadow detail was better, but I felt the image on the Acer H5360 seemed to have a bit more "pop and wow". It was tough, because overall the Epson's seemed brighter and its colors were more natural, but to my eyes, the Acer H5360 had a more impressive image. The deal breaker for me was the rainbow effect on the Acer H5360. I haven't had too many problems with previous DLP projectors, but the rainbow effect was not only visible to me on the Acer H5360, it was distracting. Any multi-colored scenes were OK, but as soon as any light text on dark background appeared it was game over.
I will still give the Acer H5360 the edge in overall picture quality category, because not everyone will be able to see the rainbow effect on DLP. It had a great "wow" factor that was fitting for a gaming projector.
Now, input lag! The Acer H5360 is the winner here hands down. It measured and impressive 0-10ms input lag, with an average around 5ms. While the Epson measured 30-50ms and an average around 40ms. The Epson's results are right in the grey area of acceptable. With my recent choice in games, the Epson's performance would work for me. If you are looking for a FPS projector, the Epson 710H may not be the best choice.
Unfortunately, I've misplaced the Epson's input lag shots in my recent move. 🙁 My notes contained the results, so you'll have to trust me. I will keep looking and post them as soon as I find the memory card that contains them! It's probably in one of the boxes I need to unpack.
This has been quite the shootout. Just to recap, both of the projectors are very portable with limited placement flexibility (no lens shift). They both have a mono 2W speaker. The Epson 710HD is brighter in best mode, but to my eyes the Acer had a more impressive image overall. The Acer wins the input lag battle but suffers from the "rainbow effect". One last thing not yet mentioned is the Acer H5360's 3D capabilities. I was unable to test its performance, because it did not ship with the matching 3D glasses (sold separately), but it is a feature that the Epson 710H does not have.
If I had to choose between these two projectors I would choose the Epson 710H, strictly on the basis that the Acer H5360 had too noticeable of a rainbow effect for me to overlook (and I'm not sold on 3D at this point). If the rainbow effect was not an issue, I would choose the Acer H5360 because I think it throws a better picture for gaming overall (more "pop and wow"), not to mention it has better input lag metrics.
That's all for now!
P.S. I think I have an Epson 3020 coming my way. Stay tuned! 🙂