Acer H5360 3D Home Theater Projector
3D Capability: The H5360 supports 3D display using either the NVIDIA 3D Vision system or the Texas Instruments DLP Link 3D system. I tested it with 3D gaming and using the NVIDIA system and with 3D Blu-Ray source material using the latest release of PowerDVD10 Ultra.
The NVIDIA 3D Vision system uses the EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) to identify if a display is supported. This led to some setup issues since my HDMI switch (a Denon AVR) does not pass through EDID data. So when the H5360 was connected through the Denon, the NVIDIA system did not recognize it as a supported display.
Additionally, I normally use a single HDMI cable for audio and video out from the HTPC. My only solution was to connect video direct from the HTPC to the H5360 and connect a separate analog audio output from the HTPC to the receiver. Users should plan on a direct connection from HTPC to the H5360 or on the use of a passive HDMI switch.
Once the H5360 and HTPC were connected directly, the NVIDIA setup process was nearly seamless (very straightforward compared to using an unsupported display) and was completed in a few minutes. I was able to use the most recent drivers with the H5360 as compared to an older driver set that is required for an unsupported display.
The H5360 switches to a specific image preset when the 3D mode is activated - it appears that this mode adjusts the color balance to take into account the slight color shift due to active shutter glasses. As is typical, switching to 3D mode results in a significant decrease in light output - the H5360 output drops to 698 ANSI-lumens in either the NVIDIA 3D or DLP Link modes. On the positive side, brightness, contrast, color and gamma controls can be adjusted to optimize the balance between shadow detail and black level when in either 3D mode.
I recently reviewed an XGA resolution BenQ projector that supports the NVIDIA 3D Vision System. The largest advantage of the H5360 in 3D, in addition to the easier setup, is the HD level resolution. The higher resolution of the H5360 and corresponding increase in detail accentuated the impression of depth and overall immersion into the game. I found the impact of 3D gaming on the H5360 very impressive.
A major limitation to evaluating 3D video performance to date has been limited source material. Up to my experience with the 3D Blu-Ray of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs", all 3D video material was downloaded form the internet and suffered from low resolution or was highly compressed. Seeing properly mastered source material at the full bit rate provided by Blu-ray was simply the best 3D I experienced on the H5360. The excitement started from the opening frames, seeing the Columbia Pictures logo (the woman holding a torch and draped in the American Flag) extend into the screen was a great indication that this film experience was going to be something special. The Cloudy plot and animated content was a great fit for the 3D treatment; I feel that watching this film in 3D added to the overall experience. Early in the film, the protagonist attempts to 'generate' a cheeseburger using an invention of his own design. Viewing this scene in 3D bring a much greater sense of being in the action as object starts to materialize directly in the foreground. Comparatively, watching the same scene in 2D had a more observatory and disconnected feel.
However, the benefit of 3D is not without tradeoffs. A 720p display has less than one-half of the pixels as a full HD 1080p display. In addition, the light loss from the 3D mode and the light loss due to the active shutter glass system is significant. The glasses also had a noticeable impact to overall color fidelity when watching the Blu-ray content. Colors when viewing with the 3D glasses off were more saturated and crisper.
Ultimately, I found the negatives to be more of an issue with gaming as compared to the Blu-ray experience. I am not ready to give up 2D gaming at 1080p for 3D at 720p. However, I can honestly say that the 3D effect makes it a close call. This speaks well for the performance of the H5360 since I am comparing it to a 1080p projector at 3-4 times the price. Comparatively, I found the 3D experience that Blu-ray provides to be well worth the trade-offs. Given the opportunity, I would not hesitate to view new content in 3D using the Acer H5360. The experience of this relatively early stage of 3D Blu-ray was quite impressive.
Cost of Ownership: At under $700 from reputable on line retailers, the Acer H5360 represents a very low cost option for one's first step into the new 3D universe. It can easily support screen diagonals greater than 100 inches in theater lighting conditions. 3D flat screens at the 50-inch range are over double the cost of the H5360. So the H5360 represents a first-rate value considering a 100-inch diagonal image is over 4 times the viewable area of a 50-inch diagonal image. In addition to its low price, replacement bulbs can be found for around $200, which is lower than average for this class of equipment.
Input Options: The H5360 includes a VGA analog input and component, S-video and composite video inputs. It includes an HDMI input that will allow the projector to reproduce video and audio from a digital source. The sole analog audio input is a 3.5mm input jack. The H5360 also includes a Kensington security lock slot.
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