Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
The Acer H6502BD delivers a 3400-lumen rating for $699 or less, making it one of the brightest full HD (1920x1080) home theater projectors for the price. The H6502BD is enough of a light canon to throw a 160" diagonal 16:9 image with moderate ambient light. If you're into gaming you'll appreciate the reasonably fast 33ms lag time. And although you can connect to an external sound system, you don't have to. The 10-watt speaker offers good sound quality and high enough volume to fill a small to mid-size family room. The Acer H6502BD comes with two HDMI ports with MHL, and you can pick up a optional Wi-Fi dongle for an extra $69.
The H6502BD has six factory predefined color modes - Bright, Standard, Movie, Dark Cinema, Game, and Sport. All of these except Bright deliver vibrant, saturated color and a relatively neutral gray scale, and they share similar color quality and brightness levels in lumens. However, you'll need to experiment to find the one that you like best, since they differ in other ways. Some do a better job holding shadow detail, for example, but give colors in well-lit scenes a less saturated look.
The H6502BD also does well in most modes with grayscale images like black and white movies. In particular, Standard, Game, and Sport deliver neutral grays at all levels from black to white. Movie mode, and Dark Cinema to a lesser extent, are a touch warmer but equally so at all gray levels. As with most projectors, the Bright mode (which is indeed the brightest of the six) has an obvious green bias, so that even yellow objects show a distinctly greenish tint.
In addition to the six factory preset modes, the H6502BD offers one customizable color mode that you can use to tweak the picture as you wish. However, if you program the User mode, then change a setting in any of the preset modes it overwrites the single User mode.
I saw more digital noise with the H6502BD than typical, but there was little enough that most people shouldn't find it bothersome. In video test clips that have so much noise that it shows with almost any projector, however, it was obvious enough that some might consider it annoying.
On the plus side, the Acer H6502BD scores well on rainbow artifacts. I saw very few with color content. They show more often with black and white, as is common for single-chip DLP projectors. Keep in mind, however, that the tradeoff for a single-chip design is that it guarantees chips can't be misaligned, as can happen with three-chip light engines.
3D Video. This projector's 3D support is for DLP-Link glasses only. Image quality is much the same as for 2D for those aspects that both share and is acceptable or better for 3D-specific issues. I didn't see any crosstalk. With respect to brightness, although 3D is always dimmer than 2D, the difference was less on the H6502BD than with some models. In particularly demanding clips, 3D-related motion artifacts are a little more obvious than with most projectors, but not by much. Overall, this projector turns in a solid 3D performance for the money.
Data Presentations. The H6502BD does a good job with data and graphic presentations. Since it weighs only 5.3 pounds and comes with a soft carrying case, it can easily double for business and home use. With data signals, in most color modes the colors are eye-catching and nicely-saturated. The exception is Bright mode, because of its green bias and the equally common tendency for some colors to look dark in the brightest mode. Rainbow artifacts show even less often with data and graphics than with video, and the image holds detail well. In my tests, white text on black was highly readable at 6.0 points. Black text on white was readable at 4.5 points.
Brightness. We measured the ANSI Lumens for Standard and Eco lamp settings are as follows.
Acer H6502BD ANSI Lumens
Video Optimized Lumens. The best video image quality was achieved with Dark Cinema using default settings. Movie mode is a close second. Each handled some clips better than the other, with Dark Cinema holding shadow detail better and Movie mode delivering somewhat more saturated color in midtones. You may prefer either one or choose to switch, using Movie mode most often and reserving Dark Cinema for movies with lots of dimly lit scenes. Both deliver a bit over 2,000 lumens, making them bright enough for a 16:9 diagonal image as large as 130" in moderate ambient light or 160" in a dark room.
Presentation Optimized Lumens. For presentations, Dark Cinema with its default settings offers eye-catching color and 2,000 lumens.
Zoom Lens Effect. The 1.1x optical zoom isn't long enough for its position to noticeably affect light output.
Brightness uniformity. The 60% brightness uniformity measurement is unusually low and easy to see with a solid white or light colored image. A wide center swath--covering about 60% to 70% of the image width--is brighter than either side, with the brightness dropping off noticeably on both sides.
The brightness difference is a touch harder to ignore than it would be if the center swath were a little wider. However, differences in brightness tend to be hidden by images that break up the field of view, which includes most photorealistic scenes. Unless this is an issue you're particularly sensitive to, you shouldn't find it bothersome.
Color brightness. The H6502BD's color brightness varies from about 40% to 60% of its white brightness, depending on the mode. The higher white level maximizes brightness for data and presentations with white backgrounds, as with word processing documents and spreadsheets, without being enough of a difference to have much affect on color quality.
Fan noise. The H6502BD noise rating is 31 dB in Standard (full power) mode and a notably quiet 26 dB in Eco mode. The quality for both is a steady hum that I don't intrusive. Even if you are bothered by it, it's less obvious than most projectors that marry small size with high brightness. In a quiet room, it's barely audible from 20 feet in Standard mode or 10 feet in Eco mode.
High-altitude mode, which Acer recommends for elevations of 4921 feet and above, is also a lot quieter than typical. In Eco mode, I couldn't hear any difference. In Standard mode, the sound became easily audible from 30 feet away, but the volume wasn't much higher than with many small bright models before you turn on high altitude mode. For high elevations, you'll want to stay with Eco if you can, but most people should find the fan noise tolerable even with Eco off.
Input lag. Input lag measured 33ms in all picture modes.
Lamp life. The H6502BD's rated lamp life is 3500 hours in Standard lamp mode, 5,000 hours in Eco mode, and 6,500 hours in ExtremeEco mode, which lowers lamp brightness if the projector doesn't detect an input signal for five minutes. Replacements are $179.
Warranty. The price includes a one-year warranty for parts and labor and a 90-day warranty on the lamp.
The Acer H6502BD is most likely to get installed permanently on a flat surface or in a ceiling mount. However, it weighs just 5.3 pounds and measures 3.4" x 12.1" x 8.3" (HWD), making it small and light enough to move from room to room or even carry with you. For a 120" diagonal image, the throw distance is 13 to just over 14 feet. Use the Projection Calculator to find the throw distance for the screen size you want.
With the H6502BD on a table in front of the screen, the vertical offset shifts the image so it's completely above the projector, with the bottom of the image roughly 10% of the image height above the centerline of the lens. This makes ceiling mounting or placement on a low table between the seats the most practical installation options. If you want to place it on a rear shelf behind the seats you will need to tilt the unit downward and square up the image using keystone correction. You can do it, but it's not something we recommend for 1080p resolution home theater projectors. Also, if you place the projector behind the seats, check to make sure you want to sit that close to the image it will produce from that distance.
When setting up the H6502BD, keep the rule of thumb in mind that the brightness of a standard lamp typically drops by roughly 25% over the first 500 hours, followed by a continued, slower decline. However, this projector is so bright that most users won't miss the light as the lamp age. A good strategy for compensating for the loss in brightness with the H6502BD is to set up the projector initially so its low lamp mode is bright enough for the image size and light level, then switch to Standard mode as the lamp ages.
(second HDMI port is internal, for Wi-Fi dongle)
Low brightness uniformity and noise. The variations in brightness across the screen and the noise level in occasional scenes won't be a problem for most people, but if you're particularly sensitive to one issue or the other, you may find it distracting.
Rainbow artifacts. Rainbows are remarkably scarce when viewing color material. If you watch a lot of classic black-and-white films or video, and you are particularly sensitive to rainbows you may find them bothersome.
Only one custom setting. Not being able to customize the predefined modes without overwriting the one User mode means you can store only one custom setting.
At $699 or less, the Acer H6502BD is one of the brightest full HD home entertainment models available for the money. It's also one of the least expensive that's bright enough to throw a video optimized 160" diagonal image. In moderate ambient light, you'd want to reduce screen size to 130", but that is still a BIG image for a small inexpensive projector.
The high brightness, 10-watt speaker, and two HDMI ports make it nicely suited for either family room or dark theater viewing, while its light weight make it easy to move from room to room or set up quickly in the backyard for a night-time movie. When it comes to inexpensive home theater projectors with solid 3D performance, the Acer H6502BD is an outstanding value.
Check current Acer H6502BD price on Amazon
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Acer H6502BD projector page.