Although it's one of the biggest brands in the computer world, Acer's home cinema efforts have, up to now,been few and far between.
But its new PH112 projector is every inch a home cinema product,designed from the ground up to make film fans happy. In fact,happiness could give way to ecstasy if it manages to combine some genuine performance credentials with its extremely low £649 price tag.
The PH112 does look rather cheap,though,with its plain rectangular shape and fairly uninspiring colour scheme. At least it's mercifully small.
Connectivity is depressingly impoverished.Especially disappointing is the absence of any digital video input,making the PH112 incompatible with the majority of upcoming highdefinition sources.There are no component video inputs either but thankfully a provided PC VGA jack can take analogue HD component feeds via a suitable adaptor.Other connections of note are an S-video port,a composite video port and an USB port for remote computer control.
The PH112 pleases more with its use of a native widescreen DLP chipset, for which it claims a decent (for this money) maximum contrast of 2,000:1 and maximum brightness of 1100 ANSI Lumens.
The Acer's features count is none too shabby. either.Highlights include a low-lamp mode that reduces brightness (to around 880 ANSI Lumens) and fan noise while increasing contrast; and adjustments for degamma,white balance, the separate red,green and blue colour components.
The projector proves exceptionally easy to set up, too - although people with small lounges should note that its throw distance seems more suited to larger rooms.For instance,you'll need a minimum of 7.4m between your screen and the projector to enjoy a 200in picture.
In action the PH112 gets many things right,but unfortunately it gets some others rather wrong...
The right stuff includes the projector's black levels,which are more deep and subtly detailed than we'd expect at this money. This gives the PH112 an immediate edge over similarly priced LCD models,and helps make pictures look layered and solid.
What's more, the good black levels are achieved without sacrificing much brightness or colour vibrancy.Now that we've mentioned colours, it's also good to report that they enjoy some natural tones,too.
There's more detail in the picture than you might expect of a WVGA machine as well, plus we were pleasantly surprised by how well the unit suppresses DLP's common problem with fizzing noise over motion.
The projector's flaws kick off with a rather unstable look to some pictures,caused by a combination of dot crawl and digital artefacting with some rich mid-to-bright colours, slight glitching with motion,DLP's rainbow effect,and green dot noise in dark areas.
Also slightly annoying, especially if the picture is more than 100in across, is the appearance of a gridlike pattern in the image,caused by the physical structure of the mirrors on the DLP DMD chipset.
To be fair,though,these various flaws really aren't too unbearable at all given the 'fun' rather than 'serious AV'market the PH112 is made for, as shown by its price tag. In fact,the only serious black mark against it is the existence of Optoma's H27, which delivers slightly better pictures and,critically,an HDCPenabled DVI jack for just £50 more. John Archer