If you think that big-screen 3D home-entertainment displays have to be expensive, you clearly haven’t seen the Acer H5370BD. Even after you add in the cost of a screen, the H5370BD is cheaper than a 90-inch 3D TV by an order of magnitude. Granted, it won’t give you as high quality an image as a large-size TV, partly because its native resolution is 720p rather than 1080p. But as an entry-level home-entertainment projector, it can connect to video sources like Blu-ray players and cable or FIOS set-top boxes to give you a big image with reasonably good quality in both 2D and 3D.
Built around a DLP chip and rated at 2,500 lumens, the H5370BD is in the same size and weight class as the 720p Editors’ Choice Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 710HD and the 1080p Acer H6500, both of which I reviewed last year.
All three of these projectors are notably small and light, with the H5370BD coming in at five pounds five ounces. In each case, you can set the projector up permanently if you like. However, if you don’t have a room suitable for permanent installation, the small size makes it easy to store the projector away and then set it up quickly whenever you want to use it. You can also carry it easily to a friend’s house for a movie night or the like. Acer even makes it easy to store the H5370BD away or carry it elsewhere by including a soft carrying case.
Setup is standard, with manual focus and zoom controls. The zoom is only 1.1x, which isn’t much, but any zoom is better than none. It gives you at least a little flexibility in how far you can put the projector from the screen for a given size image.
Connectors for image sources include two HDMI ports, with one offering MHL support for connection to mobile devices. Other choices include an S-Video port, three RCA plugs for component video, and the usual VGA and composite video ports. There’s also an audio-in port, but no audio-out. If you want to use an external sound system, you’ll have to connect it directly to the same source the projector is connected to. You’ll also have to switch the audio source separately, rather than automatically switching to the right audio when you change the image source.
Brightness and Image Quality
Evaluating brightness for single-chip DLP projectors like the H5370BD can be tricky. Unlike three-chip LCD projectors, including the 710HD, for example, DLP projectors typically have lower color brightness than white brightness, which can affect both the brightness of color images and color quality.
That said, in my tests, using a 1.0 gain screen, the H5370BD was suitably bright for a 78-inch wide (90-inch diagonal) image to stand up to the ambient light that’s typical for a living room or family room at night. For theater-dark lighting, or for smaller images, you can lower the brightness by choosing a different preset mode, by switching to Eco mode, or both. Eco mode also increases the rated lamp life to 6,000 hours from an already longer than typical 5,000 hours in Standard lamp mode.
Image Quality and Rainbows
The H5370BD’s image quality is obviously limited compared with 1080p projectors by its native 720p resolution. Overall, however, it scored reasonably well for 2D video quality. I didn’t see any motion artifacts, skin tones looked fine, and I didn’t see any posterization (shading changing suddenly where it should change gradually) even in clips that tend to cause that problem. I saw some mild loss of shadow detail (details based on shading in dark areas), and a mild to moderate level of noise, but neither was significant enough to be bothersome for most people.
A potentially more important issue is the H5370BD’s tendency to show rainbow artifacts, with light areas breaking up into flashes of red, green, and blue. This is always a potential concern for single-chip DLP projectors because of the way they create colors, but some projectors show these artifacts much more often than others. With the H5370BD, they show often enough that anyone who sees rainbow artifacts easily and is bothered by them is likely to find them annoying. If you, or anyone you watch movies with regularly, fall in that category, you’ll be better off with an LCD projector like the 710HD.
3D and Other Issues
According to Acer, the H5370BD supports 3D both with computers at up to 720p, using HDMI only, and with video sources with HDMI 1.4a ports. In my tests with a Blu-ray player, it worked as promised. Note that you can use either 120Hz or 144Hz glasses with games, but for 24-frame-per-second-video, you need 144Hz glasses.
Image quality in 3D was roughly the same as in 2D for all of the aspects that 2D and 3D images share, including frequency of rainbow artifacts. Beyond that, the projector handled 3D-specific issues well. In particular, I didn’t see any crosstalk, and I saw only a hint of 3D-related motion artifacts in clips that tend to show them. The image was noticeably dimmer with 3D, but that’s expected, since the glasses block light for each eye half of the time. If you want to use 3D extensively, you may need to set the projector up with a smaller image size than you would for watching 2D material only.
The one potentially serious drawback for the Acer H5370BD is rainbow artifacts. If you see them easily, or worry that someone you watch with might, you’re far better off with an LCD projector like the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 710HD, which is guaranteed not to show them. However, the 710HD doesn’t offer 3D and the Acer H5370BD does. If you don’t see rainbow artifacts easily, or even if you do see them, but don’t find them bothersome, the Acer H5370BD’s balance of features, brightness, image quality, and price can make it an attractive choice.
|Native Resolution||1280 x 720|
|Video Inputs||Composite, HDMI, S-Video|
|Computer Interfaces||Analog VGA, HDMI|
|Rated Contrast Ratio||13000|
|Rated Brightness||2500 ANSI lumens|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc