Acer V7850 4K DLP Projector Review
Is this the real mainstream 4K DLP projector?
What is the Acer V7850?This is Acer’s entry level 4K DLP model that sits under the recently reviewed V9800. It uses the same chassis, chip and software as the Optoma UHD65 with full manual lens zoom and focus and one vertical lens shift control, although the V7850 is much more expensive than the UHD65, retailing at £3,280 via the Acer shop (October 2017).
The V7850 uses the same Texas Instruments XPR DLP chip that the other reviewed projectors use which has 4.1 million mirrors and using a pixel shift technique that, it is claimed, can produce an Ultra HD image with 8.3 million pixels on screen. It is fully compatible with 4K Ultra HD video signals as well as HDR10 content, but it doesn’t offer wide colour gamut support, instead it maps colours to the Rec.709 HD colour standard. Although it lacks this feature it does open up 4K projection with DLP machines at a price point that is affordable, compared to the native professional and consumer projectors on the market.
When we reviewed the V9800 and Optoma UHD65 we found machines that worked very well in normal white coloured rooms with some light control and offered sharp, bright and colourful images. So can the V7850 offer the same for less?
Design, Connections and ControlThe design is very much the old school office style of chassis with the lens slightly off to the right (looking from the front) and the exhaust vents to the left hand side. The lens is a gold colour with a manual focus ring. The lens zoom is behind this in a recessed area and behind this again is the vertical lens shift knob. We found the lens shift to be flimsy and it didn’t look like it would last long if used every time the projector was moved and set up again. However when set the lens did stay in position over the two weeks we were testing this unit, so once set it stays where it should be. The entire chassis is made from high impact white plastic and is built well enough to be portable if required. Behind the zoom and lens shift is a panel with menu controls and a power button should you lose the remote control, whilst all the connections are around the back.
Here we find a LAN port, RS232C port, and two HDMI inputs with HDMI 2 supporting 4K HDCP 2.2 60P HDR video signals only. There are also VGA in and outs along with audio in and out and two USB ports for service and power. Rounding off the connections is a 12V DC out and the power socket.
The supplied remote control is a small plastic affair that sits neatly in the hand and is backlit for use in a dark cinema room. The main menu and direction keys are placed in the centre with the power and backlight to the top and direct image control access to the bottom. Like the Optoma remote this also has a 3D button, but it is non-functional as the V7850 is not a 3D capable projector. Overall the remote does its job and is easy to use, if a little small.
The design is traditional and build quality is good
FeaturesLike the Acer V9800 and Optoma UHD65 the V7850 uses the 0.66inch Texas instruments XPR chip that has 4.1 million mirrors that results, after a diagonal pixel shift, in 8.3 million claimed pixels on the screen and a resolution of 3840 x 2160. This faux approach is similar to the JVC and Epson methods of 4K and the V7850 is not a native 4K projector. However thanks to the single chip used in the V7850 compared to the three-chip approach of the competition, the image is sharper on the Acer than the JVC and Epson, where panel alignment issues make things look slightly softer.
As mentioned in the other 4K DLP reviews you will find it hard to pick out the resolution differences between this projector and a JVC compared to a native Sony 4K unit from a normal viewing distance. It will be other attributes such as shadow detail retrieval and black levels, along with accurate looking colours on the Sony and JVC which make the image look different, not just resolution. So the Acer is sharp and detailed with good edge definition visible and no real signs of image blur but, when directly compared to the competition, there are hardly any resolution differences from a normal viewing distance.
The V7850 will accept a 4K 60p HDR signal via the HDMI 2 slot and is capable of displaying this in Rec.709 colour on screen. It is not wide colour gamut capable due to the use of a colour wheel. It is however capable of covering the Rec.709 gamut for accurate HD colours and it has HDR EOTF modes to map content to the projector's capabilities for light output with HDR10 content. It does not support HLG or Dolby Vision HDR. There are modes within the menu which promise to boost the colour response over that of Rec.709 but leave these switched off as they quickly make things look overcooked. Brightness is claimed to be 2,200lm but is actually closer to 900 lumens in a calibrated viewing mode, which is still bright enough for use in a less than ideal room. It will go brighter in Standard and other modes, but you quickly lose accuracy and start to clip details. The V7850 is also ISFccc certified and has hidden calibration menus allowing set up and lock out in night and day presets.
Finally once again the lens zoom, shift and focus are all manual on the V7850 which means that if you use a scope screen in your cinema room you will need to get up and manually change aspect ratios. The competition at this price point offer fully motorised lens memory functionality (Epson TW7300/TW9300) so we would like to see it included with future 4K DLP machines at this price point.
Out-of-the-Box SettingsWe started by measuring most of the picture presets to find the closest to the industry standards for HD playback. As always we used our Klein K10-A meter, Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator and CalMAN Ultimate calibration software to take the measurements. We found that Rec.709 and CT2 for white balance along with a 2.4 gamma gave us the best possible out of the box settings. There are ISF day and night presents but they need to be unlocked for end users to access, so we stuck with Rec.709 for now.
Thankfully the Acer V7850 we were testing was fairly accurate out of the box with a greyscale (top left) that tracked extremely well with just a slight drop in red and a push in green at the top (brightest) end of the scale. However deltaE errors were 3 or below which translated to no visible tint being seen on screen with normal viewing material. Gamma tracked fairly well but with a dip low down and also in the mid tones, making things a smidge lighter than needed, but again nothing that would be noticeable on screen to the vast majority of viewers.
With a claim made that the V7850 could cover the Rec.709 colour gamut we set about testing if that was accurate. As you can see (top right) the Acer does a very commendable job of presenting a wide enough gamut to cover the Rec.709 co-ordinates and with only a slight over saturation in red and some minor hue errors in magenta and cyan, we have a gamut that tracks well. We doubt any viewers would be able to see the 100% hue errors and only just be able to notice a slight red push in skin tones, so for an out of the box preset the results are very good indeed.
Calibrated SettingsIt is fortunate that the out of the box settings are so good and relatively accurate as the calibration controls on the V7850 are dead on arrival. No matter what we tried with the white balance and Colour Management System (CMS) settings, any adjustment made no difference and didn’t register any actual changes on the greyscale or colour gamut. This is strange given the fact that the Acer is ISFccc certified and has the hidden menus, which again did not work. In the end we gave up trying to make any changes as nothing registered at all. This is disappointing. We have been unable to tell if it was just a faulty unit we had for review or if this is the case for all V7850 projectors, but in this case we were unable to calibrate the unit.
HDR ResultsThe first thing to always say here before discussing any results is that HDR on a projector is nothing like the performance you can expect on an HDR TV. Due to the limited brightness and native dynamic range of a projector the specular highlights and deep black and shadow detail retrieval seen on a TV are not present here. Instead HDR performance is different but still worthwhile with most content. As long as the projector is capable of doing a decent job of tone mapping without clipping detail in the blacks and the highlights and is set up correctly the end result can be very good. One important area to point out with the V7850 is that it is not capable of wide colour gamut performance, just like the other 4K DLP models available. The competition from Epson, JVC and Sony are able to try and produce the wide colour gamut as they are not restricted by a colour wheel like DLP projectors.
As we can see in the greyscale (top left) the tracking is relatively flat with some reduction in blue and green and an excess of red in the mid to higher end of the scale, but there are no on-screen issues visible with content, such as colour tint. The DeltaE errors are also good for HDR with the EOTF (ST2084) tracking accurately within the limitations of the projector's native brightness and capabilities. The colour gamut (top right) is restricted due to the colour wheel and tracks to Rec.709 rather than Rec.2020 (DCI-P3), which it is not capable of covering. Actual HDR content on screen looked very good with nice subtle colours and a good highlight performance, even with the restricted brightness.
PerformanceIf you have read my reviews of the Acer V9800 and Optoma UHD65 you might be getting a sense of déjà vu right about now as they are all basically the same projector at the end of the day. The V7850 and UHD65 are very similar in terms of performance with very little separating them and both were reviewed and tested at the same time in the same room. The problems the V7850 has are the same ones we mentioned in quite some detail in the previous 4K DLP reviews. In a bat cave environment and against the likes of the Epson TW7300/TW9300 and JVC X5500 the Acer can’t compete when it comes to wide colour gamut performance or the inky blacks and excellent shadow detail retrieval that gives those images such depth and detail. The V7850 has weak blacks and it is not capable of retrieving above black shadow detail, so some dark scenes are just large areas of dark grey by comparison in such a room. Contrast performance is 1360:1 on/off and 870:1 ANSI, which is fairly weak when compared to the competition. When it comes to resolution there is no visible difference between the Epsons, JVC and the Acer from the same viewing distance, so there is no stand out in that area either. But like the Optoma there are some positives that can outweigh the negatives we have mentioned so far, particularly in more normal viewing environments.
The competition needs a bat cave environment with excellent light control to perform at their very best and to extract what makes them so special in terms of black levels and shadow detail. However, place them in a white room with white ceilings and normal curtains keeping out any light and you have issues with the likes of the Epson, Sony and JVCs of this world. That’s because in such a room the light falling on the screen is reflected back onto white surfaces, which in return send the light back on to the screen washing out the contrast of the image. This is where DLP projectors have traditionally excelled in performance, with brightness that combats these issues and where the lack of black level and shadow detailing hasn’t been an issue. This is where the Acer V7850 starts to earn its points.
When used in such a room with a raised black floor to begin with, the mediocre performance from the bat cave is forgotten about and the Acer starts to show what it is capable of. OK, it still lacks the wide colour gamut for HDR 4K discs and streams, but old-fashioned Rec.709 is still very capable and on the Acer it is at least accurate. The Acer is also very sharp and while the same resolution as the competition, it can give the impression of a more digital and detailed image, even though there is no added detail at all over the competition, which look a little softer in comparison. We tested the V7850 with the same clips as the Optoma and we saw a very similar performance. The Ultra HD Blu-ray of Planet Earth II can look stunning at times on the Acer. As the majority of the action takes place in deserts, oceans and forests where images are bright and detailed with plenty of colour, the Acer is capable of producing some excellent images. Like the Optoma only during really dark scenes, like the hyenas in the village does the lack of deep blacks and shadows start to spoil things slightly. But the performance with the majority of bright content is sharp and detailed with stunning edge definition and excellent motion. Even sports and football look very good without any help from the frame interpolation system. HDR from 4K Blu-ray also had some dynamics visible in the image without any obvious clipping being seen. Deepwater Horizon was another torture test for the Acer with its mix of bright daylight scenes against the nighttime scenes of the disaster unfolding. There is detail to be seen within the orange and reds of the exploding oil platform, but within the dark corridors during the rescue attempts detail is lost in the darkest reaches of the image, sometimes making it a little hard to follow what is going on. However if you stick to sports, gaming and brightly set movies the Acer can produce some excellent images within its capabilities and in rooms where the competition would struggle.
- 4K UHD HDR signal compatible
- Good looking faux 4K performance
- Single chip sharpness
- Good motion
- Decent out of the box results
- Manual lens shift
- Best suited to bright or all-white rooms
- Poor black levels and shadow detail retrieval most noticeable in bat cave environments
- Calibration controls do not work so no way to get completely accurate picture
- No wide colour gamut support
- No motorised lens memory functionality
Acer V7850 4K DLP Projector ReviewJust like the other two 4K DLP Projectors we have reviewed so far this year, the Acer V7850 is a first generation TI XPR machine bringing 4K compatibility to a more affordable price point. There are plenty of competing projectors that offer the same type of 4K resolution trick but offer more in terms of wide colour gamut and HDR performance, so the Acer has a lot to prove. It simply can’t compete in a bat cave home cinema environment where the competition are better equipped to provide superior blacks, deeper shadows and more colourful highlights. But where the V7850 does shine, excuse the pun, is in a typical living room environment with white walls and ceiling. Here the advantage is now in the Acer corner with the competition unable to fully exploit their best features. As such and with a raised black floor, the weaknesses are reversed and the V7850 starts to offer more brightness and sharper images.
It doesn’t have a wide colour gamut but it is accurate to Rec.709 and it is bright enough to combat light spill on the screen, meaning it is watchable even with some ambient light in the room. We were unable to get a lag time reading for gaming, something of an issue with DLP machines, but watching big screen sports was excellent with very good motion even without using the Frame Interpolation system on board. You could experiment with this FI system on video material, like sports broadcasts where it does smooth out the image, but at the cost of adding artefacts into the image. With normal HD viewing either from Blu-ray, TV or streaming services, the delivery looked very good with excellent sharpness and edge definition to images. Colours were also natural and skin tones looked lifelike throughout. It is just a shame that on our review sample the ISFccc calibration controls didn’t work at all.
Just like the V9800 and Optoma UHD65 this projector is suited to a particular environment to excel and it can produce some very nice images when set up correctly within a typical living room. It has good motion and excellent sharpness with accurate Rec.709 colour to boot, which makes a decent case for the V7850. It is restricted to certain environments and content, but does enough to add it to your demo list if those are the conditions in which you are looking at using a projector. Our only reservations are the fact the calibration controls didn’t work at all on the review sample and the price seems to have recently risen (on the Acer shop) to £3,280 from the original stated price of £2,699, which means we can’t issue a recommendation given the price vs. performance and the fact the Optoma is cheaper.
MORE: Projector Reviews
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £3,280.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels7
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box7
Picture Quality Calibrated7
Ease Of Use7
Value For Money6
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