Reviewed: Acer VL7860 4K Projector

Projectors remain one of the more versatile video options for a number of reasons, including flexibility, movability, and general convenience. Still, one thing that they haven’t quite been able to catch up with is resolution. The market is flooded with 4K panels, but 4K projectors aren’t nearly as available. Acer is changing that with the VL7860, and we’re lucky enough to get to give it a spin.

Design: 4/5

There’s not a lot to say about the design of this projector aside from the fact that it’s a bit larger than what we were expecting. Measuring in at

18 x 11 x 5.5 inches, and a whopping 18.7 pounds, this isn’t really a projector you’re going to want to take along to your next product presentation. It’s really more appropriate for a semi-fixed role, as a permanent fixture on a conference room table, or maybe a ceiling mount in a home theater. As far as 4K projectors go though, it’s actually quite small, so there’s that.

It’s otherwise an unassuming white box, with the projector lens off to one side on the front, and a bevy of ports and connectors on the rear. There’s no integral lens cap, so do be careful not to lose the included cover, and don’t forget to remove it and keep it safe.

Hardware: 4.5/5

As we mentioned earlier, ports abound on the back of this bad boy. You’ve got all the usual imaging plugs: A VGA in, a VGA out, two HDMI ports, an ethernet port, two USB ports, and one each for 3.5mm audio input and output. You’re really going to want to be running HDMI for 4K output, but having support for legacy hardware is always appreciated.

This particular projector uses lasers to push an image. This is able to get a lot of light out on to your screenm, and is absolutely necessary, to allow this piece of hardware a maximum image size of 300 inches on the diagonal, from just about 30 feet away. This, combined with 4K resolution, and a good source, means you can get a great, sharp image on an absolutely massive screen.

You also get a convenient remote that allows you easy access to all the projector’s features, which is great, since chances are good this device will end up somewhere out of reach.

User Experience: 4.5/5

The VL7860 is a monster of a projector. You’ll have your work cut out for you just picking a place to put this massive thing. Once it’s there, and all your inputs are in place though, you won’t want to go back.

From just about 25 inches, all the way to the maximum 300-inch screen size, this projector impresses. At about 60 inches, which is the image size we ended up using for this test, there enough light to enjoy videos, even in the naturally-lit atrium at our house, though more output would have helped. Since it’s a projector, there is some bleed at the edges of colored images. They might seem a little fuzzy and a little weak, but that’s with plenty of ambient light. Once the sun went down, we had no real problem with it anymore. There were moments when viewing was improved by picking one of the HDR presets, as changing lighting conditions in the image did perform better at one setting or the other, but since HDR controls can be accessed with a single button on the included remote, this was not trouble at all. In the end though, if you want to use it for entertainment, you’re going to need a perfectly dark room to enjoy it.

Brightness was even across colors, even with larger display sizes. Some projectors suffer from blindingly bright whites, and mediocre colors, resulting in an image that’s far from ideal for most uses. The VL7860 did a stellar job maintaining  good, even brightness throughout. Even when we plugged in a gaming console or a laptop for gaming purposes, there was nothing that made it seem any less capable than an actual display. We were expecting to see ghosting with some of the faster action, and though there were some instances where we thought we could get it to tear or smudge the image, it wasn’t noticeable enough to make a real difference. The 120Hz refresh rate (albeit on 1080p) helped with this tremendously, I’m sure.

The large body of the projector also made heat management easy. Projectors tend to put out a lot of heat, and this one is no exception. The large fan seems to keep temps down, and even long stretches running games didn’t get the projector going too hot. The fan can be a little on the louder side, should you be in the wrong spot, though it’s not quite loud enough to drown out audio from the internal speakers.

Value: 3.5/5

If you have deep enough pockets, the space to make the most of the resolution, and a place dark enough to make the most of the projector’s resolution, then this is a great buy. You get great resolution, a reasonably compact package, quie  operation, and a massive maximum image size. The tradeoff–having a need for a completely dark room–might make the deal a little less sweet, but honestly isn’t going to be an issue if you’re building around a projector-based setup in the first place.

Bottomline: 

All things considered, not a bad way to get into 4K projectors.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE June 2018 Issue.

Reviewed by Ren Alcantara

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