720p DLP Projector Review
April 3, 2014
When it comes to high-quality inexpensive projectors, few companies can touch Acer. The PC giant has been releasing home theater and home entertainment projectors that strike a great price-performance balance, and their products have received a lot of attention from budget-conscious consumers.
Acer's latest projector, the H5380BD, is another winner. Built for home entertainment, the H5380BD's native 720p resolution makes it an inexpensive way to bring 3D into the home. With 3000 lumens of brightness, a small form factor and light weight, an estimated 5,000 hour lamp life, and a built-in two-watt speaker, the H5380BD is a powerful, portable projector for film, video, gaming, and more. And at only $549 MSRP, it's also quite the bargain.
The Viewing Experience
With its tiny form factor and bargain-basement price, it's not surprising that the H5380BD does not have a lot of bells and whistles. What it does have, however, is a solid image. The default Standard mode is intensely bright, making it an obvious choice for living room use. On the other hand, the H5380BD's Movie mode is a better choice for home theater, where ambient light is controlled and light output requirements are less severe. Both Standard and Movie mode have smooth, consistent color; Standard mode is a touch bluer across the grayscale, but this can be useful in a room with yellowish ambient light.
The H5380BD has full HDMI 1.4 3D compatibility, so feel free to use it with any modern 3D sources you'd like, be they Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, or game consoles. 3D image quality is solid despite the downscaling (remember, the H5380BD is not native 1080p), and provides a great way to introduce 3D into the home without breaking the bank.
Setup and Configuration
The H5380BD is ideal for tabletop placement. It has a mild upward throw offset of 13% (so the bottom edge of the image is 13% of the image heigh above the center of the lens), a short zoom range (1.1:1), a small footprint, and it weighs very little. It also includes a small 2W onboard speaker, for those times when you don't have a better sound system available.
Despite being an inexpensive machine, the projector includes some nice touches. When you open the menu without an input signal present, the H5380BD displays a 16:9 geometry test pattern in the background to assist with placement and aiming of the projector. A side-mounted connection panel helps to manage cables by keeping your coffee table clear. Since the audience is likely seated behind the projector, it makes sense not to send all of the cables back in that direction. While the H5380BD only has one HDMI port, that port is MHL-enabled.
Standard mode pushes out just under 1400 lumens on our test sample, so it can be used even in a room with significant ambient light. Using an 80" diagonal image, Standard mode produced a bright, high-contrast image despite significant ambient room lighting.
Since the projector has such a limited zoom range, placement is highly dependent on what size image you want. The 80" diagonal image discussed above can be projected from 9' to 9'10", for example.