Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
At the moment, the Acer P6500 is the lightest weight and lowest price 1080p projector on the market with a rating of 5000 lumens or more. Available at prices around $1300, it delivers solid image quality for data and presentations with good color balance and nicely saturated color along with video quality that's easily good enough for most classrooms or even casual use at home.
Weighing 9.9 pounds, the P6500 is intended for permanent installation but it is still light enough for portable applications that require a bright, high-resolution projector as well as for business users who want a projector they can bring home occasionally to watch a big game or movie.
The P6500 offers four predefined color modes, and one customized mode. Make a change to any of the four presets, and it automatically becomes the new User mode, overwriting any previous customization.
As we've seen in many commercial / business oriented DLP projectors, the color is darker than it should be in its two brightest operating modes (Bright and Presentation) and more vibrant in lower brightness modes--a difference that's noticeable with both video and color business graphics. The Presentation, Standard, and Video modes show relatively neutral grays at all levels from black to white. Bright mode offers a noticeably warmer gray than the other presets.
The P6500's native 1920x1080 resolution does a good job of resolving detail, which is particularly important for the display of text documents, financial spreadsheets and complex graphics. White text on a black background (frequently hard to read) was easily readable at sizes as small as 6 points in our tests. Black text on white was crisp and readable even at 4.5 points.
Video. Unlike many HD projectors that are designed primarily for data and presentations, the P6500 does a credible job with video also. It doesn't offer most of the picture controls you get in a home theater projector, but the quality overall is a match for inexpensive home entertainment models.
Colors are a touch off in the two brightest predefined modes--both because of the tendency for some colors to be a little dark and from the loss of subtle shading, which leads to minor posterization. However, if you need the extra brightness, the video quality is more than good enough for extended sessions in a classroom or for casual home use even in the brightest mode. If you don't need the extra light output, the Standard and Video modes deliver more vibrant color and better color fidelity.
Most commercial single-chip DLP projectors show a few rainbow artifacts, but the P6500 does well on this count. Even with black and white video where they are usually the most obvious, they show infrequently enough that few people are likely to find them bothersome. As always, the benefit to the single-chip design is the guarantee not to have misconvergence, which can be an issue with three-chip projectors.
3D Video. The P6500 offers 3D with DLP-Link glasses, and it does a good job with 3D-specific quality issues. I didn't see any crosstalk, saw just a hint of 3D-related motion artifacts, and saw only a typical loss in image brightness. For those aspects of quality that 2D and 3D share, the image quality is similar in both. There's only one 3D color mode and no way to customize it except for changing color temperature.
Brightness. With the zoom lens at its widest angle setting (the shortest throw for the image size) we measured the ANSI Lumens for Standard and Eco modes as follows.
ACER P6500 ANSI Lumens
Video Optimized Lumens. Video quality in the two brightest modes is good enough for extended viewing if you need the high brightness for a particularly large screen or high ambient light level. Our video optimized setting, with the best color quality, is Standard mode without any changes. At 2900 lumen, it's bright enough for a 140-inch diagonal 16:9 image in moderate ambient light.
Presentation Optimized Lumens. Even more than with video, the two brightest modes offer easily high enough quality for data and presentations. Here again, Standard mode with default settings offers the best balance between brightness and color quality, making it the presentation optimized setting as well, at 2900 lumens.
Zoom Lens Effect. With the 1.6x zoom set to the telephoto end of the lens, light output is curtailed by 23%.
Brightness uniformity. The P6500's brightness uniformity is best described as technically poor but good enough for the intended application. The measurement is 55%, which is unusually low. However, the brightest area of the image is in the lower left corner and the least bright area is in the upper right. The change in perceived luminance is gradual enough that there are no obvious hotspots or dim areas. The lack of uniformity is visible on a solid color image, but the change in brightness is not distracting once you have a text document or video image on the screen.
Color brightness. The P6500's color brightness varies from about 25% of white brightness in Bright and Presentations modes to more than 40% in Standard mode and more than 50% in Video mode. The measurements are consistent with some colors looking dark in the brightest two modes and more vibrant with the other two. The differences also mean that full color images won't be as bright as you would expect based on the projector's lumen rating.
Rainbow artifacts. You might see a rainbow on occasion, but they appear so rarely that few users will find them bothersome.
Fan noise. Acer rates fan noise in Standard mode at 35 dB, which is typical for this combination of size and brightness. In a quiet room, you can easily hear it from 25 feet away. Even if you're comfortable with white noise, as I am, you'll probably want to sit at least 10 feet away. Eco mode is much quieter, dropping the volume to a rated 30 dB. At that level I didn't find it bothersome even sitting right next to the projector. If fan noise is one of your pet peeves, you still might want to be at least 5 feet away.
High altitude mode, which Acer recommends using at a 5,000 foot altitude or above, adds both higher volume and a slight low-pitch whine, with Standard mode only a touch louder than Eco mode. With either setting, the sound is audible in a quiet room from more than 40 feet away. If you have to use high altitude mode, consider setting up the projector behind a false wall to deaden the sound.
Input lag came in at a measured 50 ms in all modes.
Lamp life. Acer rates the lamp life at 3000 hours in Standard mode or 4000 hours in Eco mode. Replacements are $345 list.
Warranty. The price includes a one-year parts and labor warranty with a 90-day warranty for the lamp.
The P6500 throws a 140" 16:9 image from a range of roughly 14.5 to 22.75 feet. You can use the Projection Calculator to determine the range for the screen size you want.
Acer supplies a soft carrying case with the projector, which is useful if you need its level of brightness and resolution for portable use. But at 9.9 pounds and 4" x 14.7" x 8.8" (HWD), it's more likely to wind up permanently installed in ceiling mount or on a table or cart.
One notable setup convenience is a minor vertical shift, at a total of about 2 percent of the image height from the lowest position to the highest. That's enough to give you a some room for error when installing a mount, but little enough not to have much affect on the image offset.
With the projector sitting on a table, 100% percent of the image is above the lens, with the bottom of the image roughly 15% of the image height above the centerline, plus or minus one or two percent. If you have to tilt or swivel the projector to aim at the screen, you can manually adjust for both vertical and horizontal distortion of up to plus or minus 30 degrees. You can also set the projector to automatically correct for vertical keystone distortion and can manually adjust each of the four corners.
When installing the P6500, keep the rule of thumb in mind that standard high-pressure lamps typically lose about 25% of their brightness in the first 500 hours of use, and then continue to decline more slowly.
The easy way to compensate for the brightness drop is to set the projector up so it will give you the image size you need with the low lamp mode and then switch to full brightness mode as the lamp ages. If you don't mind the somewhat lower color quality of the brightest predefined color modes, you can also start with one of the lower-brightness predefined color modes and switch to a brighter mode as needed.
Fan noise. Although fan noise is no more than expected for this combination of size and brightness, it's enough to be a potential concern for those applications that need a quiet projector, especially if you have to use high altitude mode.
Low brightness uniformity. Most images break up the field of view enough to hide the P6500's low 55% brightness uniformity. However, the difference in luminance is visible in images with a white or uniform light color from edge to edge.
3D mode offers only one color mode setting with no way to customize it except for changing color temperature.
The Acer P6500 stands out as an extraordinary price value for both conference room and classroom applications. Its combination of light weight, high lumen output and 1080p resolution is hard to beat for $1300. Bright enough for a 180" image in moderate ambient light, it delivers solid image quality and well balanced color for data and presentations, and video quality that ranges--depending on the color preset mode--from a minimum of watchable to a match for low-end home entertainment models.
At 9.9 lbs, the P6500 is still light enough to carry with you if you need its brightness and resolution on the road, or if you want portability between office and home to combine business use with watching the big game or a movie. At this writing, $1300 is a very aggressive price for a 5000-lumen 1080p projector. Beyond that if you need compactness and relatively light weight, the Acer P6500 may be perfect for your needs.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Acer P6500 projector page.