Little projector beams big images up to 300 inches diagonally
The next time you plan a movie night, you may want to stay inside. That's what Acer hopes, anyway -- the company just announced its H5380BD home entertainment projector for U.S. consumers. The company's projector displays 720p HD (1280x720) images in 16:9 widescreen format, while also offering up 144Hz 3D support at 3,000 lumens, prompting Acer to advertise "movie-quality projection."
Bigger isn't always better, especially when you're talking about mobility. For example, have you ever wanted to take your home theater with you? That's a tough task, though Acer's new palm-sized K137 projector makes it easy to bring a big screen experience to a friend's house. It weighs just 1.1 pounds and measures 7.4 inches (W) by 4.6 inches (D) by 1.6 inches (H).
If mobility is the name of the game, Acer's K335 portable projector won't bog you down. On the contrary, Acer says its newest projector weighs a mere 2.8 pounds -- that's Ultrabook territory -- and measures 9.1 inches by 6.5 inches by 1.8 inches, small enough to fit easily in a briefcase or backback. That being the case, Acer is pitching the K335 LED projector as being suitable for both home entertainment and business presentations.
Can you hold your giant screen HDTV in the palm of your hand? Unless you have hands like Paul Bunyan, it would take several palms to create a sturdy enough human base for your HDTV. But if you were to pick up Acer's new K132 DLP portable projector, you'd find that its pint sized stature belies the display technology that sits tucked inside. Though it measures just 5.5 inches (L) by 4.6 inches (W) by 1.6 inches (H) and weighs less than a pound, it's capable of beaming an HD resolution with 500 ANSI lumens brightness.
Projector pricing has fallen sharply in the past 12 months.
For some people, investing in a projector is a no-brainer, now that prices are comparable to LED televisions. For example, Acer's new H5370BD runs $549, beams images up to 300 inches, supports 720p HD, and is 3D ready, to name a few of the features. If you have a mancave (or womancave) that's suitable for a projector, it might make more sense than plunking down the same amount of cash for a 42-inch LED TV, which is about what you can get on that budget (sales notwithstanding).
The Acer H6510BD projector offers instant 2D to 3D conversion in HD with no extra software required.
Acer on Thursday announced that it's H6510BD projector for displaying 3D movies and games is now available in the United States. The H6510BD features Full HD 1080p support and converts 2D content passed through the HDMI port to 3D on-the-fly without any extra software. It also supports all the popular 3D technologies, including Blu-ray 3D, DLP 3D, and Nvidia 3DTV Play.
At first glance, Optoma’s DLP-based HD33 struck us as the Charlie Brown of this batch. While it was the first 3D video projector in this price range to reach the market, it delivers only 1,800 ANSI lumens of brightness, its zoom lens is limited to 1.2x, and you must buy the 3D glasses separately. Like the Epson, the HD33 doesn’t have a lens-shift feature, but it is the least-expensive model we looked at, and its image quality is at least as good as the other two.
The HD33 comes with an RF emitter for synchronizing 3D glasses, but the emitter is a stand-alone device that must be plugged into a VESA 3D port at the back of the projector. Optoma helpfully provides a bit of two-way tape so you can glue it to the projector housing, but it’s a tacky (no pun intended) solution at best. The glasses Optoma sent for this review (not included in the price of the projector) were considerably dorkier looking and less comfortable to wear than the glasses Acer and Epson provided. Optoma’s glasses are also unique in that they use a rechargeable battery, but that comes with a downside: You recharge them using a Micro USB cable and an AC adapter, which is also not included (although you could plug them into your PC). Alternatively, you can use any manufacturer’s DLP Link 3D-compatible glasses. You can expect to pay about $100 per pair for active 3D glasses of any type.
The best feature of Epson’s Home Theater 3010—a three-chip LCD projector—is its extreme brightness. At 2,200 ANSI lumens, it’s 10 percent brighter than the Acer, and more than 18 percent brighter than the Optoma. Its biggest drawback is the fact that it doesn’t include lens shift, which could make the projector more difficult to set up without having to resort to quality-compromising keystone adjustments.
If you do need to make keystone adjustments, the 3010 renders horizontal adjustments easy and precise. And when you’re running the projector in 3D mode, you’ll definitely appreciate that added brightness, since the tinted active-shutter glasses will block a considerable amount of light from reaching your eyes. The trade-off for all that brightness is a black level that’s slightly worse than the Acer’s. But black remains black, not dark gray, so we think the trade-off is worthwhile.
All three projectors delivered stunning 3D experiences. There’s one scene in the IMAX Blu-ray disc Under the Sea 3D in which a gargantuan potato cod turns to face the camera, and it looked as though the huge fish was protruding eight feet off the screen and right into the middle of our home theater. But only the Epson could accomplish the trick with complete effectiveness in the presence of ambient light from nearby windows.
Acer’s H9500BD 3D video projector is the most expensive of the three models here, but it has a couple of features the other two lack. Its overall image quality, however, is only on par with projectors in this price range. We’ll leave it up to you to match those considerations to your needs/wants list.
The H9500BD, like Optoma’s HD33, is based on Texas Instrument’s DLP technology. When connected to a PC or Blu-ray 3D player via HDMI, the projector is capable of producing frame-packed 3D video at 1920x1080 resolution at a refresh rate of 24Hz (the same frame rate movies are filmed at). If you want to play games, you’ll need to drop the resolution down to 1280x720, so you can use a 60Hz refresh rate (markedly better for games).
Unless you’ll be the only person watching the projector in 3D mode, though, you should keep in mind that Acer provides only one pair of 3D glasses with the projector; additional pairs of DLP Link 3D glasses cost about $100 each. (Flip over to Lab Notes on page 92 for a longer discussion of what you’ll need to drive any of these projectors with an AMD or Nvidia GPU.)
Home theater buffs looking to replicate the big screen experience in their living rooms or man caves aren't the only ones who can benefit from a Full HD 1080p projector, at least not as far as ViewSonic is concerned. ViewSonic's new Pro8300 is just such a projector, boasting a 1920x1080 resolution, 3000 lumen rating, and "precise color performance and sharpness" that business users can take advantage of to pitch presentations.