Acer V9800 4K DLP Projector Review
Acer try to ace the 4K DLP race
What is the Acer V9800?The Acer V9800 is a single chip DLP projector that boasts the new Texas Instruments XPR technology, which is a pixel shift technique to provide a 3840 x 2160 resolution image by using 4 million mirrors on the chip that flash twice, shifting the pixels to create an 8 million plus pixel image. This brings faux 4K technology to the DLP market place and at a price point that consumers can afford.
The V9800 retails for £4,695 as at the time of writing (August 2017) and also boasts a claimed 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 2200 lumens of brightness, Rec.709 colour gamut and compatibility with both Rec.2020 and HDR content. It uses a 6 segment colour wheel (RGBRGB) with the ability to hit the Rec.709 gamut co-ordinates, something DLP projectors have struggled with in the past when using a colour wheel. There are also ISFccc password protected calibration controls that add a night and day preset to the menus and there's even full lens shift on board, which is another rarity for a DLP projector at the price point.
So the Acer promises much but we'll be asking questions about just how well this projector can live up to the 4K HDR promise and if its £4,695 price tag is competitive in today's consumer market. Lets see how well it performs.
Design, Connections and ControlThe V9800 is a surprisingly large projector when you consider the other DLP models we usually get in for review and it is also twice the price of those models. In terms of size it is approximately the same as my reference JVC X7000 with a centrally mounted lens that has an air intake and an exhaust to either side. The air vents are large fins sculpted to follow the lines of the chassis curve towards the outside edge. In the centre is the silver lens that is surrounded by a plastic manual focus ring and behind this is the zoom slider, which is also plastic and manual.
There is no motorised lens cover; instead you are given a large plug like cover to manually attach when the projector is not in use. To the top right of the lens is the IR receiver and to the right of that on the top edge are three indicator lights. On the top plate under a flap are the two lens shift control knobs. One is for 65% vertical shift and the other for 27% horizontal shift. They are quite tight to move and thus hold their position well. I didn’t have any issues with the lens shift moving during testing of the projector. There is nothing else to note on the top or rear of the projector chassis and the connections are all on the right hand side (looking from the front).
The connections are housed within a recessed area on the right of the chassis, which should allow for neat cable management when ceiling mounted. There are two HDMI inputs, with just one that is HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 compatible for accepting 4K 60P signals. The other is a standard 1.4 connector. This might feel a little stingy but there are solutions for video switching if you have a newer AV Receiver in your set up and whilst 4K sources are still quite rare, most users probably only require one input at this time. The only other video input is a VGA connector and the rest of the connections are control based, so we have a LAN port, wired remote port, two 12V triggers and an RS232C port. The USB is for service use only and doesn’t accept video signals or the addition of a media player/HDD storage. The power socket sits to the far bottom of the recessed area and to the rear of the projector is a sliding flap that hides the menu and power keys should you misplace the remote control.
The supplied remote is backlit and easy to use. It is the typical size for a modern remote control and made from plastic, with all the buttons to the top half of the unit. Here we have power and 6 image input keys to the top followed by the 3 input selection keys and below this the main circular menu and direction keys. Finally to the bottom we have direct picture control access key for gamma, contrast and so on. The remote sits neatly in one hand with all the major keys within easy thumb reach and being backlit (in blue) you will have no issues using it in a pitch-black room.
Manual lens shift is a welcome addition to a DLP projector
FeaturesThis is the first consumer DLP projector we have reviewed that uses the new Texas Instruments XPR technology chip, which features pixel shifting using over 4 million tiny mirrors to create an image that is Ultra HD resolution (3840 x 2160) and has a claimed 8.3m pixel density following the pixel shift. This means that the chip can be 0.66inches in size and is cost effective to mass-produce which brings 4K DLP to the consumer market at an affordable price point. Yes, it’s not native but as we’ll find out later in this review and from testing previous faux 4K units; from a normal viewing distance resolution differences compared to a native projector are minimal, if seen at all. The other image attributes such as contrast, black levels, colour reproduction, lens quality and shadow depth are what show up a projector's ultimate picture quality compared to just resolution alone.
The Acer also promises to hit the complete Rec.709 colour gamut standard for HD playback and it is also claimed that the V9800 is compatible with HDR and Rec.2020 Ultra HD signals via HDMI 1 which is HDCP 2.2 compatible. Acer Colorpurity is a feature the company claims utilises the RGBRGB colour wheel and lamp control techniques to widen the colour gamut available and cut down on rainbow effects. Acer also claims that the projector has a brightness of 2200 lumens and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 using dynamic black technology. Plus they claim the V9800 is quiet in operation at just 20db of noise. We will find exactly what that means in the tests below and in the picture assessment. Finally the Acer is also ISFccc certified with a hidden menu system for calibration of a night and day setting and a lock to save these adjustments.
The Acer claims to put over 8 million pixels on the screen in 4K mode
Out-of-the-Box SettingsAs always we started by measuring the available picture modes and white balance settings to find those that come closest out of the box to the same standards that your content is created in. That means colour as close as possible to Rec.709 and white close to D65. We also set the brightness and contrast to suit the room conditions so we can see what we should be able to see onscreen from the seating position in the room. As soon as you make any adjustment to the defaults, such as changing the gamma, the mode changes to User. We started in the suitably named Rec.709 picture preset with the default white balance in this mode and found they delivered the best out-of-the-box settings for watching movies as they should be seen.
As we can see from the greyscale tracking (top left) there is a deficit of blue energy from 30ire up to 100ire with red and green just above our 100% target. This gives onscreen image a slight yellow tint to whites and skin tones and our DeltaE errors are up to 6 at 100% white. For an out-of-the-box setting this is passable and whilst there is a slight tint it is not overly distracting and is probably preferable to blue whites for most viewers. Gamma also tracks very close to our 2.4 dark room target but there is definitely room for improvement here.
When it comes to the colour gamut (top right) DLP usually struggles with green and cyan due to the colour wheel however, with the RGBRGB unit used here, we can see that the gamut is slightly over the Rec.709 target (dark triangle), but tracking is very good at lower saturation points. Given this projector comes with ISF controls and a full Colour Management System (CMS) we should be able to correct the slight errors in saturation and hue. However out of the box this is a very good result indeed for a DLP projector.
Calibrated SettingsThe V9800 is ISFccc certified and has a hidden ISF menu that can be accessed via a password. This is where a professional calibrator can set a day and night preset and then lock the controls out. The reason for this is that clients will pay up to £300 for a full calibration and the last thing they want is their children or other users changing the optimal settings by accident. Once set there is now ISF day and night options available in the picture menu with the controls greyed out, (however controls remain available for all the other picture modes). So using the calibration controls available on the Acer we set about correcting the greyscale and colour gamut results to get them closer to the industry standards for HD content.
Looking at the greyscale tracking once again (top left) we used the two point correction controls to get the DeltaE errors well under 2 which means they are below the visible threshold and the yellow tint is now completely gone. The tracking is excellent and the gamma well behaved at our 2.4 target, but not perfect. However this is an excellent result, which improves the onscreen image quality with no visible errors seen at all.
We also had a good result with the colour gamut (top right) where we were able to correct the saturation and hue errors compared to the out-of-the-box results. There was nothing we could do for the 100% saturation points, but from 75% and below (the most important area) we were pleased with the final results. We doubt any user would have noticed the out-of-the-box vs. the calibrated results with normal onscreen viewing material without a side-by-side reference image. But it is reassuring that the image can be calibrated correctly to give accurate results.
HDR ResultsThe V9800 will accept 4K UHD signals and can also detect HDR content metadata within those signals, either from a 4K Ultra HD disc player or streaming service. When it does detect HDR content it makes a normally greyed out HDR option within the menus available. There are no picture presets for HDR content, just the option of HDR1 or HDR2 with all the picture mode settings. HDR 1 is the option to select for the correct EOTF tracking and tone mapping for UHD content from discs or streaming services up to 4000nits. It should be remembered that HDR viewing on any projector is not the same as on a flat panel TV. While a high-end LED LCD TV can display up to 1500nits and an OLED up to 700, a projector will be lucky to reach 200nits at a push. This means that while it is possible to get a very good image from a projector with good highlights that are not clipped, the image is darker and there is nowhere near the dynamic range you will get from any HDR TV.
Looking at the EOTF tracking and tone mapping capabilities (top left) you can see that the V9800 has a maximum brightness of around 140nits in HDR1 mode before it rolls off, although the EOTF does a decent tracking job within this constrained dynamic range. As such there is a decent attempt at preserving highlight detail without clipping although the black level performance of this DLP does mean there is no shadow detail present. The greyscale also struggles out-of-the-box when it comes to tracking in the HDR1 mode, with the return of the yellow tint that causes the DeltaE errors to get higher towards the brightest end of the scale.
Colour gamut wise (top right) shows that within the Rec.2020 container the V9800 is not capable of tracking to DCI-P3 as the colour wheel restricts the ability of the projector to get anywhere near it. Acer does state that it is only Rec.2020 compatible and not capable. Green and cyan tracking suffers the most as we would expect from a colour wheel based projector as the energy just doesn’t exist to get that wide. However the V9800 does map to Rec.709 of which it covers 100%. So you can watch 4K HDR content via the HDMI 1 input and it has a stab at HDR content within the constraints of its brightness, but you will not get wide colour at all on this DLP.
Picture QualityThe Acer V9800 is competing against some very strong competition in the price range it is placed, with the Epson TW7300, TW9300 and JVC X5500 being the main faux 4K challengers. It is immediately on the back foot because it can’t display wide colour gamuts whereas all three competing models have that in the bag with at least 90% or higher coverage of DCI-P3 and good tracking. Plus the Acer is completely manual for lens shift, zoom and focus where the others are all motorised and have lens memory for cinemascope screen use. But the real issue for the V9800 is the famous old trait of DLP projectors and that is the black level performance. The three other models all have fantastic dynamic range and deep blacks with excellent shadow detail retrieval. The Acer has very poor shadow detail performance mixed with mediocre black levels, which is disappointing in a £4,695 projector. We measured the on/off contrast at 1400:1 and the ANSI contrast at 1308:1 in calibrated modes and results were the same in HDR1 mode. This lack of contrast is a common theme with DLP projectors and the lacking black levels do impact on picture performance. This is a shame as one of the benefits of true HDR playback is the sense of depth and detail within the darker areas of the image set against the bright highlights. Projectors really struggle with that aspect due to their lack of brightness, but the Acer is poor in this regard.
So let's talk HDR first of all and how the Acer V9800 copes with that content. With bright scenes and in HDR1 the tone mapping for highlights is very good and the opening shots approaching Deepwater Horizon have excellent detail and bright sharp highlights to metallic surfaces. Image sharpness is really a highlight with DLP projectors and the Acer really pulls out the stops with superb edge definition without any processing or sharpening. Because it is a single chip projector the V9800 is certainly more defined and sharper than the three other competing models. Colours are also handled well and whilst not wide colour gamut capable, the Acer displays at Rec.709 even for 4K content, skin tones look accurate and colour brightness is good even if saturation is not quite where it would be with DCI-P3. In bright well-lit scenes during the opening of the film the Acer produces a really nice cinematic looking image with some dynamic range and no highlight clipping being obvious or visible. Even when things go south quickly and explosions start to light up the screen the V9800 manages to portray the yellows and oranges at the heart of these explosions with superb detail retrieval from within the balls of flames. It is not as vivid as it would be with a wider colour gamut on the competing three projectors we mentioned, but the image performance with brightly lit scenes is strong and sharpness is superb.
Moving to standard Blu-ray and we get a very similar performance with the Acer, it hits Rec.709 easily and we get an accurate reproduction of the HD graded material in terms of colour and the greyscale is also very good. The out-of-the-box settings do have a slight yellow tint to them as we covered in the image tests above, but this shouldn’t detract from the viewing pleasure. When calibrated we were able to get reference levels of accuracy from the greyscale and the colour gamut was also excellent from 75% down (the most important areas to get correct). Colour luminance (brightness) is not shown in the graphs above but was also excellent meaning we had superb colour reproduction, which is rare from DLP colour wheels. Our trusted test clips were put to full use and the Acer managed to make an excellent stab at everything we threw at it. Sharpness was superb and colours strong and accurate and the only weakness were, again, the mediocre mixed scenes and black level performance. Using the dynamic black settings didn’t make any real performance difference at all.
Motion and video processing were areas where the Acer really nailed it with no induced judder or image smearing. One thing we did notice, and this is a very personal result and varies from person to person and how you visually perceive motion, but we really noticed quite a bit more of the rainbow effect than we normally do from single chip DLPs. This could be down to colour wheel speed or the new pixel shifting mirrors causing us to see RGB strips down edges within scenes. It was certainly easier to notice the odd flash here and there more often. Like we say this will vary from person to person and it is not constant or in any way spoils the experience, it is just a little more obvious than normal. One other thing to note is that the V9800 doesn't support 3D, which is a shame, because DLP projectors are particularly good at delivering crosstalk-free 3D images.
Watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Blu-ray was a decent enough experience on the V9800 and the only niggles were in mixed contrast scenes as already described. We were testing in a completely blacked out cinema room and of course if you raise the black floor of the room, by having white walls and ceiling, this can go some way to levelling up the black performance, but doesn’t retrieve the lost shadow detail which is never present. Overall we didn’t find the performance of the V9800 any better than the BenQ W2000 (1080 Rec.709) in the key image attribute areas, which was again disappointing for such an expensive projector.
- 4K Ultra HD HDR compatible
- Faux 4K performance is very good
- Very Sharp images thanks to single chip and good quality lens
- Rec.709 colours are accurate
- Decent out-of-the-box picture modes
- ISFccc certified with password lockout
- Good motion and image processing
- Decent HDR and EOTF mapping
- 20db fan noise
- Mediocre black levels and lacking shadow details
- No wide colour
- Expensive and the competition offers more performance at and below its price point
Acer V9800 4K DLP Projector ReviewThe Acer V9800 is a well-designed projector that is nicely made and uses decent materials and a good quality lens. It is an all-manual affair when it comes to lens shift, focus and zoom and it is also quite large. Its claim to fame is the use of the new TI XPR DLP chip which uses 4 million small mirrors and quickly flashes these twice in a pixel shift to create over 8 million perceived pixels on screen and thus an Ultra HD resolution image. It is also Ultra HD compatible and can accept the latest HDCP 2.2 signals via HDMI 1 and is also compatible with HDR signals. It sadly doesn’t cover the new wide colour gamuts but does map these to Rec.709, of which it covers 100%. It is also very sharp with a good quality lens and the single chip allowing images to have superb edge detail without any processing added. Brightness is good but like all projectors, the V9800 is not capable of the same HDR images as a flat panel. Instead it does a decent job of mapping highlights to avoid clipping and in brightly lit scenes it has good highlights and dynamic range. Like all other DLP projectors we have tested it struggles with mixed contrast scenes and the black levels are mediocre when compared to three of the closest competing faux 4K units, which do a far better job.
This is the main issue we have with the Acer V9800. We understand it is a new model using a new and affordable chipset and there are a few manufacturers using the same set up to launch this technology. We also understand that Home Cinema projectors are a niche and costs will be high to produce these DLP machines initially. But when compared to the JVC X5500 and the Epson TW7300 and TW9300 competition, they perform to a far higher standard, have wider colour gamuts and make a decent attempt at HDR, while producing superb black levels and shadow details. The V9800 in such company and with the performance it offers, looks extremely overpriced and we just can’t recommend it as things stand.
MORE: Projector Reviews
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels6
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box7
Picture Quality Calibrated8
Ease Of Use7
Value For Money5
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.