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For years, 4K projectors have been limited to only the most elite home theater buyers, often costing a minimum of $15,000, and for the past decade, were only produced by a single company in the market: Sony. Do they make the best projectors? Read on to make a decision.
In 2018, however, a slew of 4K projectors are rapidly hitting the tv market, some costing as low as a tenth of that price at retail. The laser-powered Acer VL7860 is in the sweet spot of that spectrum at just shy of $4,000 and includes all the same features you’d come to expect on a standard 4K flatscreen, including HDR and a 120Hz max refresh rate, but will the projector’s mortal enemy – ambient room lighting – be its ultimate downfall?
Read on in our Acer VL7860 4K projector review to find out!
Summary: The Acer VL7860 is a stellar 4K projector that puts out beautiful colors thanks to the addition of HDR technology, but it still suffers from ambient light bleed in less-optimal viewing scenarios.
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
The Acer VL7860 is definitely one of the largest projectors we’ve ever reviewed, but among the new 4K big boys on the block, it’s actually downright petite by comparison. That said, with 18.7lbs of weight, it’s not exactly light either, so make sure wherever you mount it that either the shelf or the mounting bracket is rated to hold that kind of heft.
Outside of that metric, though, just about everything else regarding the design of the Acer VL7860 is “standard”. Boxy with a white-on-gray color scheme, this projector won’t exactly be turning heads anytime soon – but since when is that the point of your home theater equipment?
The Acer VL7860 4K projector uses laser light technology to create its images at a maximum display resolution of 3840 x 2160, with a contrast ratio of 1,500,000:1 and ANSI lumen rating of 3000, with the ability to show an image as large as 305.3″ across from corner to corner at a distance of 32 feet.
The Acer VL7860 sports two HDMI ports, one VGA-in, one VGA-out, one RJ-45 Ethernet port, a USB port, and two jacks for audio in and audio out. Open to checking out a low-priced 4K UHD home theater projector? Click the Acer H7850 review.
The Acer VL7860 utilizes a relatively straightforward menu style that has all the right pieces in the right places, save for a few extra options that threw us for a loop the first time we tried them out.
This included the “Brilliant Color” setting, which, as far as we could tell, simply jacked up the contrast and, while seemingly unnecessary on non-HDR/4K content, was basically a must-have when that option was turned on.
The second was the HDR-o’meter (not sure what else to call it), which lets you customize the amount of HDR applied to any given image. The scale rates from 1 to 4, and actually did seem to have a level for every occasion.
Watching Spiderman: Homecoming on 4K Blu-Ray, for example, only needed a 1 (due to the movie already being tonally bright on its own), while other content like Planet Earth II actually looked better and better the further we went up the scale.
Luckily the button to adjust this setting is right on top of the remote, so you can quickly adjust it on the fly if need be (say when a movie switches between day and night scenes, for example). Looking for a portable movie projector for on-the-go movies? Read our Anker nebula capsule review.
After some slight tweaking, we were able to get some downright fantastic pictures out of the Acer VL7860, which, when displayed at night, were on par with some of the best 4K TVs we’ve reviewed this year.
Brightness uniformity throughout the picture was also strong, with only a slight variance between the (admittedly low) scores we achieved of around 350 lux at the edges and a max of just short of 500 lux in the middle.
It’s a bit of a quandary, though. Because for everything the Acer VL7860 gets right in low-light conditions or while playing at night (namely blowing up a 4K image to half the size of your house, an effect which really has to be experienced to be fully believed), it still suffered from the one issue that plagues almost all projectors under the 4000-lumen threshold: ambient light bleed.
When trying to watch movies during the day, any color accuracy provided by HDR or refined details you’d be able to make out as a result of the 4K resolution were washed out in the light, essentially negating the need for 4K at all. If you don’t like your image washed out, give this Topvision projector a try. It’s perfect to use in brightly lit rooms.
All this is to say that if you plan on setting up the Acer VL7860 in your home, be absolutely sure you’ve got your room completely blacked out, or you’ll be suffering under the shine of the sun while trying to squint to make out any difference between this 4K machine and your standard 1080p projector instead. Or, you can read our BenQ HT2550 4K projector review for another 4K option.
The Acer VL7860 comes with a ton of premium features that you won’t be able to find on most home projectors today, including 4K resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate (at 1080p), and the inclusion of HDR technology.
For these reasons alone, it’s almost a projector that pays for itself…but ultimately, the same question always comes up whenever you decide to buy a projector instead of a traditional flatscreen: is it worth the cost? It’s certainly better than this Artograph EZ tracer art projector, which is only a light tracer. Bummer.
Acer V7850 4K Ultra High Definition Projector
If you’ve got a room that’s completely blacked out or perfectly set up to get rid of all ambient light during daylight viewing hours then, of course, pound for pound, the answer is yes.
However, because there wasn’t a ton of brightness being pumped out from the 3,000-lumen lamp, all the same detail, brightness, and vivid color you’d expect when you pay those kinds of prices for home theater equipment was unfortunately still washed out by the tiniest amount of light bleed in our test room.
That means you’re only really getting the true 4K HDR experience during the night hours (again, unless you have a fully blacked-out room), and for about $1,000 less you can still rock an 82-inch 4K TV that won’t ever have this problem no matter what time of day you decide to watch or in which room.
That said, this problem is consistent with just about any projector on the market today, but if you’re paying $4,000 only to discover a washed-out image during the day, you might be just that much more disappointed by your purchase. With that said, you’ll probably be better off with one of the top-rated projectors under $1,000.
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