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For a short-throw projector, this Acer projector is as cheap as they come. But will that discount price be reflected in its picture quality, gaming performance, or overall brightness? Read on in my Acer H6517ST projector review to find out how it surmounted its shortcomings to make it onto our list in the number five spot for the best projectors.
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Price: $679.00 on Amazon
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: As a budget short throw, you won’t find anything better.
Summary: The Acer H6517ST may not be bright, but it’s still plenty beautiful if you’re on a budget.
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
I’ve made no allusions about how I feel about the current state of projector design in 2016, and unfortunately, the Acer H6517ST follows suit with the rest of the crowd. Like other home theater projectors in this price tier, Acer doesn’t seem to care that their projectors take the front-and-center position in many people’s living rooms, opting for boring white on the shell, rounded edges, and not much else.
Acer isn’t the only offender in this category of course, which is why we won’t fault them for following in the industry’s footsteps. All the buttons and focus settings are easily accessible and simple to navigate, and for that much we appreciate what the H6517ST’s design team has accomplished.
Related: If you like this projector, you might be interested in our Acer H7850 review.
The Acer H6517ST uses DLP technology to create its images, a maximum display resolution of 1920 x 1080, a contrast ratio of 10,000:1, and can create an image as large as 300″ across from 10ft away.
As is the case with most budget projectors, the available inputs for the unit were fairly few and far between. The Acer sports only two HDMI 1.4 ports (one was MHL compatible), a mini-USB input, and a lone audio-out jack, as well as a composite video-in and VGA port.
Related: See also our AAXA P300 review.
The Acer was very light, however, at only 5.5lbs. This made it easy to mount on our rear shelf behind the couch, and although we didn’t install it on the ceiling mount we did a mock installation, where the projector was easily lifted and held in place with just one arm.
The number of settings and customization options on the Acer was extensive, allowing you to change everything from the brightness and contrast (basic) to fine-tuning the exact gamma, color temperature, and keystone settings depending on the projection surface.
Perhaps my favorite setting was one I hadn’t seen on any other projector until now, which was the option to change the “Wall Color” that the image was being projected on. We tried this both on a white screen and a light blue wall, and when switching to the “blue” setting we noticed a marked improvement over the default option.
To start, we need to mention the fact that we know the Acer H6157ST is one of the cheapest short throws you can buy at just $679, which is why we won’t be judging it too harshly for the few areas where it couldn’t measure up.
On average, short-throw projectors can cost anywhere from $100 – $300 more than the leading long-throw projectors available. Given that the Acer doesn’t even break the $700 mark (a starting point for most long-throws out there), we’re willing to forgive any areas where the test results may have left a little to be desired. For another projector with even more features and just over the $700 price point, you’ll want to read our BenQ HT2050A 1080p DLP projector review.
That preamble out of the way, the brightness results on the Acer were disappointing despite its 3,000-lumen rating. At a distance of just 5ft (enough to project a 100″ image), we were only able to max out at around 790 lux with the projector facing us head-on, with the dead zones dropping off significantly once we got to the corners of the image – just 485 lux on average.
Despite the lacking brightness in our light meter tests, however, in a completely dark room, the picture quality was still a pleasure to look at. Lines were crisp and clear, while blacks were deep and rich with the “Dynamic Blacks” setting turned on. Although, our roundup of the best projectors for bright rooms will be better if you don’t want to use them in a totally dark room.
Read More: Best Projector for 2018
3D picture quality was just as good, and the viewing angles were wide enough that three people sitting on a couch and a lounge chair off to the side were still able to watch the movie without repositioning themselves or their glasses throughout the duration of the film.
Gaming performance on the other hand was only subpar, at best. We noticed a significant amount of input lag between when we would push a button on our Xbox One controller and when the action would appear on the screen.
It’s not slow enough to take you out of the moment in a single-player game, however, we can imagine it could become an issue if you need the absolute best performance during online multiplayer matches.
Noise and Heat
For a budget projector, the Acer was surprisingly quiet and didn’t put off nearly as much heat as you’d get from units twice or three times the cost. In noise tests, we registered a difference of around 9dB, from 34.3dB to 43.5db.
With a lone fan on the front-right hand side of the unit, we were able to mount the projector behind us without feeling too much of a scorching sensation on the back of our necks. The projector did put off enough warmth that we had to open a window about halfway through the movie, but this is also common with all the projectors we’ve tested so far.
With a lone 2W speaker onboard, the sound quality and impact on the Acer H6517ST were understandably subpar. If you’re in an emergency projection situation or only need it for sound effects on your PowerPoint presentation, the speaker will do just fine, but if you plan on doing any serious gaming or movie watching you’re much better off connecting to a third-party stereo.
The Acer H6517ST may not have the most input options or the brightest bulb out there, but all of those concerns quickly melt away when you take a look at its price tag.
At only $679 retail, the H6517ST is one of the cheapest short-throw projectors around, a category that often breaks past the $1000+ point without a problem. If you’re projecting in a tight space or just want the largest image you can get with only a minimal amount of space between the projector and your screen (or blue-painted wall), the H6517ST does the job just fine. Its picture quality during 2D and 3D movies saves it from certain doom, and while we would have liked to have a beefier speaker on board, we’re willing to let Acer slide given the budget-level cost of entry.
Read Next: Best Projectors Under $1,000 for 2018