Guide To Buying the Best Home Theater Projector for You

About This Guide: Where to Start?

It’s time for your first (or second, or third?) projector for your home.  You can choose a projector sort of haphazardly, perhaps read a quick home theater projector review (or two), run to Best Buy, or go online, and take the plunge, or you can take the time to “choose wisely” by first and foremost, understanding what your (and your family’s) needs are when it comes to using a home theater projector, or home entertainment projector.

The purpose of this guide it to provide you just about all the understanding you could need to choose the right home theater projector.  Let me restate that:  Choose the best projector that your budget, your room conditions, viewing tastes, habits (when you view, whether you want some ambient light for some of that viewing), preferred screen size, and other factors help you determine.

In our attempt to create a pretty comprehensive guide to Buying the Right Home Theater Projector, you’ll find this is a rather long document.  We hope you’ll find it well organized, so that it’s easy to understand, and so that you can find the information you need, without necessarily reading the whole document.

The Terminology

Before we get started you may be asking yourself:  What’s the difference between Home Theater Projector and Home Entertainment Projector?  There really aren’t dictionary definitions.  These are two terms are often used, although Home Theater Projector is the catch all phrase encompassing both.  Many projectors that are pretty basic, that some “should” be called Home Entertainment Projectors, are most often referred to as “Home Theater Projectors.”

You might assume a Home Theater Projector is designed to be used in a dedicated theater or cave, and if you want a projector is a less perfect room, that’s a home entertainment projector.  If you did, you wouldn’t be quite right.

Remember that while some of you are seeking the best possible picture in your budget range, that’s not the driving goal for many.  A lot of you just want a really large screen and a really dazzling image, rather than a more perfect one.  Our goal is to help you figure out which camp you are in, and more importantly, which projector will work best for you, regardless of a home theater, projector  or home entertainment projector moniker.

“Home Entertainment” Projectors

For our purposes, consider a “home entertainment” projectors, to mostly to be lower cost projectors, (certainly under $2000 in the US), that are  rather bright, (with most now offering 1200 to 2500+ lumens), but they will typically lack the great black level performance that requires a really good room to get the most out of.

The Home Entertainment designation would also include all-in-one projectors with speakers and even DVD players built in.  Many home entertainment projectors are similar to business projectors, and come from that background, aka “cross-over” projectors, where brightness tends to trump image quality.  Also these projectors will lack many of the advanced image processing features, and often lack the full set of controls allowing an accurate calibration and the excellent color accuracy and skin tones that a good calibration will deliver.

It’s not just about brightness.  There are now a number of very bright home theater projectors.  These home theater projectors will look better in a dedicated theater than in a basic media room or your unaltered family room, living room or den, because all home projectors will look better in an ideal room.

“Home Theater” Projectors

That notwithstanding, some of these home theater projectors are as bright, or brighter than most of the home entertainment projectors, and will look better in any room.  Some projectors though, really are dedicated home theater projectors.   They may be stellar performers in your cave or home theater, but just don’t have the horse power – the brightness – to perform well in less ideal rooms.  Typically those are projectors that measure 1000 lumens or less at their brightest.  Please note that I use the word measure, not claim.  There are often hundreds of lumens difference between what manufacturers claim, and what we find when we measure.

So, for all of that, in this guide we will refer to all home projectors typically as home theater, but on occasion I’ll specifically identify some projectors as home entertainment.

Let the games begin – or rather your hunt has started, so start by first taking a peek in your wallet.

Before We Begin…

On the next page, we’ll take you through an initial checklist of everything you should consider before diving in, because you can’t make smart buying decisions until you’ve thought about these key things.

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Acer H6517ST Review

Acer H6517ST Review
1080p Short-Throw DLP Projector for Home Theater

These days, home theater projectors are finding their ways into all kinds of places they haven’t gone before. For many years, projectors absolutely had to be installed in very dark rooms, but brighter projectors and ambient light rejecting screens mean that you can put a projector just about anywhere now. But even with that restriction out of the way, most projectors do require quite a bit of space in the form of throw distance if you want a decently large picture.

Enter the Acer H6517ST. This tiny 1080p projector boasts 3,000 lumens, so you can use it in rooms with windows and ambient light. Its defining feature, though, is an ultra short throw lens that can project a 100″ diagonal 16:9 picture from less than four feet of throw distance. If you’ve ever dreamed of putting a home theater into that tiny spare bedroom, the Acer H6517ST is definitely worth a look. Selling for less than $800, the H6517ST will fit your room and your budget.

The Viewing Experience

Firing up the H6517ST for the first time gets you a bright, vibrant picture that’s bigger than you’re expecting. That’s because the projector’s ultra short throw lens can display a huge picture from a very short throw distance. This is a huge benefit to folks with small rooms, as it means they can enjoy the prime benefit of home theater projection – really large screen sizes – without an equally really large room.

I can personally see the appeal of the H6517ST. When I got married, I was living alone in a 2,300 square foot house that was far larger than I needed. I was renting this house because of a huge 18 foot by 12 foot room that was just perfect for home theater use. Since I work with projectors, I need that kind of space, but it also meant that we had two spare bedrooms, an office, and a dining room that didn’t see much use.

My situation is somewhat unique, obviously – I don’t get to pick one projector and stick with it. But if home theater is a priority for you, you’ve probably found yourself looking at your home and evaluating it in terms of how well a projector will fit the space. The Acer H6517ST gives you a lot more flexibility when it comes time to pick a room for your theater, and might just mean more dedicated theater space instead of sticking the projector in the living room just because it’s large enough.

As for the quality of the picture itself: In most ways, the H6517ST is a typical entry-level home theater projector. The picture is vibrant and crisp, with plenty of shadow detail, a reasonable black level, and out-of-the-box color that could use some fine adjustment but is at least in the ballpark. However, extreme lensing like the super short throw found on the H6517ST usually comes with some sort of trade-off. In this case, the image loses a touch of sharpness in the corners unless you have the projector set up to be dead-on square with the screen, and brightness is less uniform than a comparable projector without a short throw lens. Other than that, you sacrifice very little to get a projector that fits in small spaces.

Key Features

Ultra short throw. The H6517ST is tailor-made for small rooms thanks to its ultra-short throw lens. With a throw ratio of 0.5:1, you can put up a 100″ diagonal image from 3′ 8″ (about half of the image’s 87″ width). The lens is fixed focal length, so there’s no zoom; you adjust picture size by moving the projector towards or away from the screen. As such, mounting should be done carefully, and this projector works best on the ceiling or a low table near the screen.

Native 1080p. The H6517ST is inexpensive, so it doesn’t have a ton of fancy features. But one thing it doesn’t compromise on is resolution. With the H6517ST, you get real-deal native 1920×1080 full high definition. This is ideal for Blu-ray movies and other high-quality HD sources, but even lower-resolution source material will look great scaled up to HD. High resolution is especially important on a short-throw projector, because you’re probably going to be sitting closer to the screen than you would on a long-throw projector.

Bright image. The H6517ST’s high light output is enough to overpower some ambient light, and that means you can use it in rooms that aren’t blacked-out bat caves. However, if you’re going to be using the projector in a room with windows or direct sun, it’s best to pair it up with an ambient light rejecting screen. Some of these screens are made specifically to work with short throw projectors, so it pays to shop around.

Portable theater. The H6517ST weighs just over five pounds, so it’s entirely possible to pack it up and take it with you. The projector comes with a soft carrying case for just this purpose. Its onboard speaker, at 2W, is a little cheesy, but it’s better than nothing at all – and it’ll get the job done if nothing more powerful is available.

Long lamp life. Manufacturer lamp life estimates are just that – estimated – and lots of factors influence how long a lamp actually lasts. That said, the H6517ST’s lamp life estimate is 4,000 hours at full brightness and 6,000 hours in Eco mode, meaning the lamp should last a good long time. The lamp is relatively low wattage, as well, which (though this isn’t definitive) seems to contribute to lamp longevity.

Connectivity. The H6517ST has two HDMI inputs, and one of those also features Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL). MHL allows you to use streaming and mobile devices such as the Roku Streaming Stick without running a separate power connection – the device draws power from the projector. Combined with the H6517ST’s portability, this gives you a highly portable self-contained theater that can put a giant image on the wall from only a few feet of throw distance.

Almost silent. In small rooms, fan noise can be a big bother. Luckily the H6517ST has a very quiet fan, so even running at full power in its brightest mode the projector produces little more than a whisper of audible noise. What noise does exist is more of a low whoosh of air rather than a high electronic whine, so while you might hear the fan running, it never rises to the level of distraction.

Conclusion

Some projectors are easy to review. The Acer H6517ST offers a simple value proposition: it is an inexpensive entry-level 1080p home theater projector for use in small rooms and confined spaces. It is bright enough for use in ambient light, cheap enough for beginners and those who aren’t quite ready to take the plunge into more expensive models, and capable enough to be worthwhile for those considering a second projector for a smaller room. The H6517ST is more than capable of producing a compelling home theater picture that makes HD content look great. It is highly portable and would make a good “Game Day” projector for use at parties and barbecues. With street prices below $800, the H6517ST is a compelling projector that’s perfect for that spare bedroom and a great way to get into home theater without a huge investment.

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BenQ W1500 1080p DLP Home Theater Projector

BenQ has been on a roll lately. Their W1070 and W1080ST, reviewed earlier this year, are both excellent projectors for home video and gaming. The BenQ W1500 can be thought of as a bulked-up version of the W1070, with a more flexible zoom lens, improved image quality, stereo speakers, and wireless HDMI.

That last feature is sure to raise a few eyebrows. Wireless HDMI makes ceiling mounting the W1500 a breeze, since the projector only needs a power cable connection and is otherwise cable-free. While the system has some limitations, it adds value to what is already a feature-packed budget powerhouse. The W1500 has an MSRP of $1,999 but is available for $1,599 from authorized resellers.

The Viewing Experience

Just looking at the case, the W1500 looks like a sleek, streamlined version of the W1070. The contrast trim on the top of the projector has been replaced with an all-white panel, while the sliding lens shift door is now a swing-open door with a push latch. The lens shift knob is now larger and easier to turn using just your fingers; the old knob required a screwdriver or a coin for easy adjustment.

The W1500 has a longer zoom range than the W1070 as well. Its 1.6:1 lens will produce a 100″ diagonal image from 7′ 9″ to 12′ 5″ throw distance, while the W1070’s 1.3:1 lens will project an image of the same size from 8′ 4″ to 10′ 11″. This means the W1500 is capable of projecting a larger image from a closer distance, which is useful for small rooms, or a smaller image from a farther distance, which can be helpful for ceiling mounts far from the screen.

The W1500 produces over 1700 lumens in Cinema mode with the lamp at full power. Strictly going by the numbers, that’s enough to light up a 180″ diagonal 1.3 gain screen at 24 foot Lamberts, well above the recommended 16 fL. Realistically, few people will want to use such a massive screen even if they could fit it inside their house, which is where Eco mode comes in. Eco reduces light output by 37%, making for a much more reasonable picture that is still plenty bright enough for big-screen use. Since Eco mode boosts estimated lamp life by 40%, most folks will want to opt for that setting. The projector’s extra brightness can come in handy when watching 3D.

Hooked up to a Blu-ray player, the W1500 produces an image that is clean and sharp, with sparkling highlights and deep, dark shadows. Color saturation is excellent thanks to the projector’s 6X speed, six-segment RGBRGB color wheel — and with no white segment, color brightness and white brightness are perfectly balanced, producing an image that appears natural and life-like.

The W1500 has full HD 3D capabilities, and can accept any of the standard HDMI 1.4 3D signal types. It also reportedly has limited support for frame-sequential 3D, though we did not have the opportunity to test this feature during our review. The W1500 uses DLP Link for synchronization, and it requires faster 144Hz glasses (not included).

Key Features

Image quality. The W1500 creates a great picture, without a doubt. Even straight out of the box, the W1500 produces a sharp, clean home theater image with great shadow detail and well-saturated color. Black levels are very good, and SmartEco lamp mode can make them better in some circumstances, much in the same way an automatic iris can improve on/off contrast. Frame interpolation smooths out motion without making film look like digital video.

WHDI. Wireless Home Digital Interface, or WHDI, is a specification for one version of wireless HDMI connectivity. While external kits are available, the W1500 has a receiver built in to the projector itself, while a transmitter comes in the box. Since you only get one port to work with, the optimal solution is to hook the WHDI transmitter to the video out port of your A/V receiver. The WHDI transmitter will send full 1080p in either 2D or 3D plus sound. As far as image quality over WHDI is concerned, we did see some occasional artifacts when using WHDI. Macroblocking sometimes appears when transmission range is too great or signal strength is otherwise diminished.

Customizable. The W1500 has three User memory settings, which makes it easier to adjust the projector for different types of viewing. The W1500 also has ISF Day and Night settings, though these are only accessible once the projector has been tuned by an ISF-certified calibrator.

Quiet fan. Fan noise on the W1500 is quite low, even with the lamp set at full power. Your perception of fan noise will largely depend on where you are sitting in relation to the W1500’s exhaust vent. Near that quarter of the projector’s front panel, fan noise is slightly louder. Once in Eco mode, though, the W1500 is as close to silent as a projector this bright can get.

SmartEco mode, which cycles lamp power in response to image brightness, is not a new concept; several manufacturers have been including similar features in their projectors for years. However, the SmartEco implementation on the W1500 is among the first to not include audible, distracting fan cycling.

Onboard sound. Dual ten-watt stereo speakers give the W1500 a powerful sound system compared to most other home theater projectors. Of course, this is partly because most home theater projectors over $1500 don’t include speakers at all, instead expecting you to have an external sound system. But the W1500’s speakers are of good quality and get very, very loud, making them an excellent choice for casual or portable use, say in a game room or over at a friend’s place for a sporting event. Our test sample had a volume scale from 0 to 10, and the speakers did not start distorting until level 8.

Good remote. We don’t typically comment on a projector’s remote control, since what we like might be someone else’s pet peeve. But the W1500’s slim, candy-bar style remote is easy to hold, easy to use, and its backlit buttons are easy to read in the dark. The red backlight isn’t obnoxiously bright, either.

Placement flexibility. With a 1.6:1 zoom lens and vertical lens shift, the W1500 has more placement flexibility than many of its DLP competitors. The vertical shift is somewhat constrained, in that it only allows for a 15% to 20% adjustment of the image’s vertical position, but it is better than not having any lens shift at all. The shift allows you to adjust the projector’s throw offset to anywhere between 3% and 14% of the image height above the lens centerline.

Frame interpolation. Frame interpolation, or FI, creates interstitial frames in a video signal to smooth out the judder associated with camera pans and fast motion. The W1500’s FI has three levels. Low is a subtle setting which smooths out motion without any hint of the digital video effect and is a good choice for film purists who still want to reduce judder. Medium shows a bit more digital video effect but has a commensurate increase in the amount of smoothing. High is a good choice when actually watching HD video, but many folks will find it too aggressive for 24p film.

No rainbows. Quite a few people see rainbows when viewing projectors with 2X-speed color wheels; fewer still see them when watching a projector with a 4X-speed wheel. The W1500 has a 6X-speed color wheel — meaning the projector is nearly rainbow-proof. The wheel has six segments: two each of red, green, and blue. This arrangement also ensures 100% color brightness and rich color saturation, both important to a natural home theater picture.

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Epson PowerLite 955WH

Epson PowerLite 955WH WXGA 3LCD Projector

  • PROS

    Suitably bright for a small to midsize room. Native WXGA (1,280-by-800) resolution. 1.6X zoom. Near-excellent quality for data images. Better-than-typical video for a data projector.

  • CONS

    No 3D support.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The Epson PowerLite 955WH WXGA 3LCD Projector delivers high quality for data images, with enough brightness for a small to midsize conference room or classroom.

Basics

Like the Epson 955W and the NEC NP-M311W, the 955WH is built around a three-chip WXGA LCD engine. That gives it the advantage of being guaranteed not to show the rainbow artifacts (flashes of red, green, and blue) that are always a concern with DLP-based projectors. It also ensures that it delivers the same color brightness as white brightness, which isn’t true for most DLP projectors, and which can affect both color quality and the brightness of color images.

The key disadvantage that grows from having an LCD engine is that, as with most LCD data projectors, the 955WH doesn’t offer the 3D support that you’ll find most DLP models, including, for example, the Acer S1385WHne, our top choice for a moderately priced short-throw WXGA projector for a small to midsize room. However, this won’t matter unless you need to show 3D material, which simply isn’t necessary for most data-projector use.

Setup and Brightness

The 955WH measures 3.5 by 11.6 by 10.6 inches (HWD) and weighs 6 pounds 6 ounces, which makes it light enough to carry with you. However, most projectors in this size and weight class wind up permanently installed or on a cart.

Setup is typical, with manual controls for the focus and 1.6X zoom. Image inputs on the back panel include two HDMI ports for computers or video sources, two VGA ports for computers or component video, and both composite video and S-Video ports. In addition, there’s a USB Type B port for direct USB display, a LAN port for sending images and audio, as well as for controlling the projector over a network, and a USB Type A port for reading files directly from a USB memory key or for connecting an optional ($99) Wi-Fi dongle. One of the HDMI ports also supports MHL.

According to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommendations, the 955WH’s rating makes it easily bright enough for a small to midsize room. Assuming a 1.0-gain screen, 3,200 lumens would be suitable for a 215- to 292-inch (diagonal) image in theater-dark lighting. With moderate ambient light, it would be bright enough for a 140-inch image. If it is too bright for the ambient light level at the image size you need, you can use one of the projectors’ lower-brightness preset modes, its Eco mode, or both.

Image Quality, Lamp Life, and Audio

Image quality for the 955WH is near-excellent for data images. The only issue worth mention that I saw with our standard suite of DisplayMate tests was a minor problem with color balance. In most of the predefined modes, the brightest gray levels show a slight tint relative to darker levels. This is only obvious with gray-scale images, however, and there are also modes that offer suitably neutral grays all the way from black to white. Colors in all modes are vibrant, eye-catching, and well saturated.

More important for most data images is that the 955WH maintains crisp detail across the entire screen. In my tests, for example, white text on black was crisp and readable at sizes as small as 9 points, and black text on white was highly readable even at 6 points.

Video quality is limited by the native 1,280-by-800 resolution, which translates to a maximum video resolution of 720p HD without scaling the image. Within that context, however, the quality is much better than is typical for a data projector. Contrast is a little low, which means you won’t mistake the image for something you’d expect from a home-theater projector, but the video is good enough to be watchable even for long sessions.

The 16-watt speaker offers good sound quality and enough volume to fill a midsize room. There’s also a stereo audio output you can use for an external sound system.

One important extra is a promised low running cost, with both a longer-than-usual lamp life, rated at 5,000 hours in Normal mode or 10,000 hours in Eco mode, and a far-lower-than-usual replacement cost, at $79. Another plus is a split-screen feature, which lets you see images from any two sources at once. You can toggle to and from split-screen mode with a single button press on the remote. You can also change sources on either side as needed, as well as choose between making the two images of equal size, or making either one larger than the other.

Conclusion

If you need 3D support, be sure to look at the Acer S1385WHne. If you don’t need 3D, however, the Epson 955W, the NEC M311W, and the Epson PowerLite 955WH WXGA 3LCD Projector are all worth considering, with similar levels of brightness, data image quality, and video quality. However, the 955WH is the only one of the three that offers MHL support, its audio quality is a bit better than the NEC model delivers, and it also offers the lowest running cost of the three. That trifecta puts it a step out in front, and makes it our Editors’ Choice.

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Review Projector Acer H7550ST

  • PROS

    Native 1080p resolution. Bright. Short throw. 1.1x optical zoom. Supports 3D for video sources, like Blu-ray players. Comes with two pairs of 3D glasses. Short lag time. Three HDMI ports. Near-excellent video quality.

  • CONS

    Shows rainbow artifacts in video, particularly for black-and-white source material.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    Despite showing rainbow artifacts, the Acer H7550ST is a tempting choice as a home-entertainment projector, thanks to its bright image, a short throw combined with a 1.1x zoom, full 3D support, and a lag time that’s suitable for gaming.

The DLP-based Projector Acer H7550ST delivers a constellation of features—including 1080p (1,920-by-1,080) resolution, a 3,000-lumen rated brightness, and a short throw combined with a modest zoom—that make it a strong candidate as a home-entertainment or low-end home-theater projector. Its Achilles’ heel is that it shows rainbow artifacts just often enough that they could be annoying to anyone who sees them easily. However, it delivers otherwise high-quality video. For those who aren’t bothered by rainbow artifacts, the H7550ST is a tempting choice.

As with most of its close competition, including the Optoma HD28DSE and the Epson Home Cinema 2040 3D 1080p 3LCD Projector, which is our Editors’ Choice moderately priced 1080p home-entertainment model, the H7550ST is well suited for gaming, with a short lag time for a projector.

Compared with the Optoma and Epson models, the H7550ST is notably bigger and a little heavier, at 3.9 by 14 by 9.5 inches (HWD) and 7 pounds 8 ounces, which makes it more cumbersome to carry with you to a friend’s house for a movie night or gaming. However, it’s still small and light enough that if you don’t have room for installing it permanently, you can store it away and then set it up quickly and easily when you want to use it. Acer even supplies a soft carrying case with reinforced side panels.

Setup

Setup is a little unusual for a short-throw projector. Most short-throw models don’t offer any zoom, which means you have to move the projector when you want to adjust the image size. The H7550ST’s 1.1x zoom gives you some flexibility for exactly how far to place it from the screen for a given size image. However, the cost of this added convenience is that even at its maximum zoom setting, the H7550ST has a longer throw than most short-throw models.
For most of my tests, I set the lens to its maximum zoom setting and used a 90-inch image (measured diagonally) at the native 16:9 aspect ratio, which put the projector 53 inches from the screen. As a point of comparison, the Acer H6517ST, which offers a short throw without optical zoom, delivers the same size image at 38 inches from the screen.

In most other ways, setup for the H7550ST is standard. Choices for image input on the back panel include two HDMI ports, a VGA port, both composite and S-Video ports, and three RCA connectors for component video. As with an increasing number of projectors today, there’s also a third HDMI port in a hidden compartment at the right-front-top section of the projector. The hidden port is meant for a streaming wireless adapter, should you want to use one. Both it and one of the HDMI ports on the back also support MHL.

The H7550ST can also be used with Acer’s WirelessHD Kit ($199), which integrates nicely with the projector. The optional kit includes a transmitter that you connect via HDMI cable to an image source and a receiver that plugs into one of the projector’s HDMI ports.

When the receiver is plugged in, the H7550ST automatically replaces the appropriate HDMI option on its source menu with a WirelessHD option. Choose it, and if the WirelessHD connection isn’t already established, you’ll see step-by-step setup instructions on the screen. The instructions basically tell you to connect the transmitter, plug in its power adapter, and turn it on. Not only is the WirelessHD easy to set up, but it worked flawlessly in my tests, with no noticeable difference between using it and connecting via HDMI cable instead.

Brightness

As with any single-chip DLP projector, discussing the H7550ST’s brightness gets a little complicated, because of differences between white brightness and color brightness. Briefly, unlike three-chip LCD projectors, which have the same brightness level for both, most DLP projectors deliver a lower color than white brightness, which can affect both color quality and the brightness of color images. The difference in the two levels means that the 3,000-lumen rating for the H7550ST may or may not translate to a brighter full-color image than you’ll get with an LCD projector like the Epson 2040, which has a lower rating, but has the same color as white brightness. (For more on the topic, see Color Brightness: What It Is, Why it Matters.)

As a reality check, in my tests in theater-dark lighting, the H7550ST was too bright at its brightest setting for the 90-inch image that I used. I had switch to Eco mode to find a comfortable level. You can also lower the brightness by choosing one of projector’s predefined lower-brightness settings or by turning off the DLP Brilliant Color feature. Both choices have the added benefit of improving color quality as well.

Performance

Image quality for 2D video is near excellent, at least in Movie and Dark Cinema modes, which offer the best color quality. The brightest mode had a green tint in my tests, which is a common issue for projectors, and some colors in each of the two brightest modes—Bright and Standard—were dark in terms of a hue-saturation-brightness color model, which is expected for projectors with a significant difference between white and color brightness.

Beyond that, the projector did a near-excellent to excellent job on our tests with shadow detail (details based on shading in dark areas). I also didn’t see any motion artifacts or posterization (shading changing suddenly where it should change gradually), even on test clips that tend to cause those problems. I saw some moderate noise in video clips that tend to show noise, but not enough to be an issue for most people.

The H7550ST also does a better job of avoiding rainbow artifacts than many DLP projectors, but it still shows some. I saw them often enough in my tests that anyone who sees them easily will notice them, and may find them bothersome, particularly with black and white source material.

Image quality for 3D video is also near excellent. For those aspects of image quality that both 2D and 3D share, the quality was similar in my tests. I didn’t see any crosstalk, and I saw only a hint of 3D-related motion artifacts. A notable extra for the H7550ST is that it comes with two pairs of DLP-Link glasses. Most projectors don’t come with any.

Acer H7550ST

Two other pluses are the H7550ST’s stereo sound system and short lag time. The two 10-watt speakers offer good sound quality, with enough volume to fill a small family room. If you want better quality or higher volume, you can connect an external sound system to the audio output, or use the built-in support for Bluetooth to connect to headphones or speakers. Gamers will appreciate the short lag time, which I measured, using a Leo Bodnar Video Input Lag Tester, at 34 milliseconds (ms), or a two-frame lag at 60 frames per second.

Conclusion

Be sure to consider the Epson 2040 for its guaranteed rainbow-free images, particularly if you see rainbow artifacts easily and expect to watch much black-and-white source material. Also worth looking at is the Acer H6517ST, which has an even shorter throw than the Acer H7550ST. That said, if you don’t see rainbow artifacts easily or don’t find them annoying, the Acer H7550ST offers a short lag time for gaming, an eminently usable sound system, and a bright image, with near-excellent image quality. Although it costs a little more than the competition, it largely justifies the price by adding a zoom to the short throw, and bundling in two pairs of 3D glasses.

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