- Bright enough to combat ambient light or deliver a very big image
- Tidy design for such a bright machine
- Good price for such a bright projector
- Glowing peaks in bright areas and crushed details in dark areas
- Fairly severe rainbow effect
- Native 4:3 aspect ratio isn’t suited to today’s sources
- Single-chip DLP projector
- Native 1,024 x 768 resolution
- 5000 Lumens claimed max brightness
- 20,000:1 claimed contrast ratio
- Two HDMI inputs
- Manufacturer: Acer
WHAT IS THE ACER P6200S?
There are two main things you need to know about the Acer P6200S DLP projector. First, it claims to be capable of pumping out a huge maximum brightness of 5,000 lumens. Second, it uses a short-throw lens so you can enjoy huge images from a small throw distance.
For the home user this means it could be used to provide pictures for a super-big screen, or in rooms where it’s hard to remove all ambient light. For business users it opens up the potential for delivering presentations in large venues or, again, where ambient light is an issue. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it translates to a good viewing experience.
DESIGN AND BUILD
The P6200S is surprisingly attractive for a projector that on paper sounds like it’s designed to be a home cinema/business presentations cart horse.
Its larger-than-average 369mm (w) x 116mm (h) x 294mm (d) frame is refined by a gentle arc along its top and bottom sides. It has an attractive, glossy black finish, enhanced by some rather fetching silver trim along the front top edge and around the lens.
Build quality is promising too. The bodywork is, inevitably for a sub-£1,000/$1500 projector, only plastic. But the finish is luxurious and the plastic appears to be thick enough to withstand strong knocks. The projector’s weight also hints at quality innards.
These innards seem to include a decent venting system. While the P6200S is far from the quietest projector around, it doesn’t run as overwhelmingly loudly – even in high brightness mode – as might have been expected from such an ultra-bright projector..
Acer’s design department has seemingly pushed the P6200S’s remote control out of mind, however. it’s one of the most unpleasant models I’ve seen. It feels horribly plasticky in the hand and sports an unhelpful button layout. There’s no backlighting for the buttons, either.
The P6200S’s connections include two HDMIs, so maybe it will be happy as a home entertainment device. Also on board are two VGA inputs, a VGA output, an RS-232 port for home control system integration, a component video input, and even LAN/HDBaseT ports – again to aid system integration.
You can also buy an optional wireless adapter that lets you project content from your Windows, Android and even iOS devices via an eDisplay app.
The P6200S uses a single-chip DLP projection system to deliver a 1,024 x 768 resolution. If you’re half-decent at maths then you’ll see that this resolution represents a 4:3 aspect ratio rather than a 16:9 or 16:10 “widescreen” aspect ratio.
This 4:3 situation would be surprising – and disappointing – in today’s world, even if the P6200S was pitched only as a presentations projector. But for potential home-cinema users it’s a crushing blow. It means that today’s 16:9 movie sources will only get to use a relatively small portion of the pixels available to the P6200S, potentially leading to an image that looks painfully low-res.
The P6200S’s headline-grabbing 5,000 lumens of light output is joined by a claimed contrast ratio of 20,000:1. This is actually high for the sub-£1,000/$1,500 DLP market, and makes me hopeful that the brightness won’t come at the expense of a decent black level performance.
It’s also worth adding that on occasions when you don’t need all that brightness, the projector sports an Eco lamp setting that reduces the level and cuts power consumption by as much as 90%.
The P6200S supports 3D, provided you cough up extra for however many pairs of glasses you need, and carries a built-in speaker so you don’t have to hunt out an external sound source.
Finally, it ships with a well-made carry bag and a lens cap to keep it free from harm on its trips to different offices, or in and out of a cupboard at home.
The physical side of the P6200S’s setup is pretty straightforward. Simple zoom and focus rings are accessed through a window in the projector’s top panel, while tucked under the edge of this window is a simple but effective vertical image-shifting wheel. This should enable most installations to get the edges of the image perpendicular, without having to distort the image digitally using keystone correction.
The P6200S’s high brightness opens up the potential for either partnering the projector with an unusually big screen – 150 inches or more – or it sitting in a fairly bright room. The relatively short-throw lens makes it easier than normal to position the projector away from seating positions, too.
Acer also provides a decent set of picture presets for different types of environment. The PC/presentations modes are pretty self-explanatory, and can also potentially be used for watching video in a bright room.
For dark-room movie viewing I’d recommend Dynamic Black in the “Lumisense” suite of contrast options. This adjusts the light output in response to the requirements of the image, and manages to deliver a surprisingly credible black colour for such a bright projector.
Fine-tuning options are more limited than I’d expect to find in a projector that’s truly been designed for home cinema use – especially where colour management is concerned. This raises a question of just how “domesticated” the P6200S really is – although Acer is adamant that it can be a movie machine if you want it to be.
Testing out the P6200S’s home cinema credentials ultimately proves a fairly underwhelming experience – although only after what looks like a surprisingly decent start.
The surprise comes from its black levels. Using the Dynamic Black mode, the P6200S manages to produce dark scenes that suffer much less with the usual “grey mist” low-contrast issue that I’d expect with such a bright projector. In fact, blacks actually look deeper than those produced by much less bright sub-£1,000/$1,500 projectors.
The longer I looked at dark scenes on the P6200S, the more aware I became of sacrifices the projector makes to achieve its decent black colours.
First, bright parts of mostly dark scenes only benefit from a fraction of that 5,000 lumens of brightness because of the amount of light being removed by the dynamic lamp technology. Second, alarming amounts of subtle detail are crushed into black oblivion.
This latter point means dark scenes look flat, hollow and just not very natural, despite the relative lack of greyness in the presentation of black colours.
A similar situation applies to the P6200S’s potential as a big-screen projector. For while its high brightness does indeed let you push films up to 150-inch sizes and beyond, the projector’s 4:3 aspect ratio means you can clearly see pixel structure in large widescreen images. This can even lead to jaggedness in diagonal and curved lines, or around on-screen text.
The P6200S also struggles to handle its own headline brightness. Bright highlights of the picture – particularly reflections of light on skin, or clouds in skies – look unnatural, glowing with an almost radioactive intensity rather than looking like a natural part of their surroundings.
It doesn’t help that the brightest picture areas also lack subtle tone information, presumably because the projector’s colour processing can’t resolve them at such extreme levels.
The P6200S’s biggest problem, is the rainbow effect. A combination of its high brightness and DLP colour wheel means you often see flitting stripes of pure red, green and blue over stand-out bright objects. This can be distracting on the P6200S, even to those who aren’t usually susceptible to seeing such a rainbowing effect.
But there are areas where the P6200S genuinely does quite well as a video projector. Its colours are bold and punchy, even if they sometimes lean towards PC toning. Camera pans and movement across the frame are both handled exceptionally naturally, while console and PC gamers will be pleased to learn that the projector suffers with a respectably low input lag of only 36ms.
In the end, it’s the inconsistency of the experience created by the rainbowing, strange glowing “holes” in bright areas, and hollow dark areas that make it impossible to get really immersed in a movie.
While the P6200S doesn’t really work as a dark-room video projector, its brightness makes it a slightly more interesting option for those who want a projector for a non-blacked-out room.
Use one of the projector’s brightest lamp modes and footage such as sporting events and animated movies retain more colour saturation and intensity in a gently lit room than arguably any other sub-£1,000/$1,500 projector I’ve seen.
Dark scenes inevitably look grey and flat in ambient light, though – unless you partner the projector with some sort of an anti-ambient light screen – the Optoma ALR100, for example.
So the P6200S’s bright room potential should only be considered useful by serious sports fans, not movie fans.
The P6200S is more effective overall as a data projector than one for home entertainment. Its high brightness and PC-biased colours feel more comfortably aligned with PowerPoint presentations than Hollywood blockbusters, giving real punch to graphs and charts – even in rooms where achieving real darkness is impossible.
The P6200S’s extreme brightness will also appeal to presenters who often have to project in large auditoria. Especially as projectors able to cope with such circumstances usually cost far more than £940/$1410.
Unfortunately, the visible pixel structure issue noted with video playback also hampers the P6200S’s large-screen presentations performance – especially if your presentation doesn’t conform to the projector’s native 4:3 aspect ratio.
The jagged look to edges when you push the P6200S to large sizes can leave text looking quite uncomfortable to read, and introduces a rough look to the edges of your otherwise pristine and punchy graphics.
The rainbowing issue can also affect data playback if you’re in a dark room and have made the mistake of putting bright elements against dark backdrops in your presentations.
SHOULD I BUY THE ACER P6200S?
If you’re a die-hard sports fan wanting to watch lots of your favourite sport on a really big screen then the P6200S might just work for you, despite its unfashionable 4:3 aspect ratio and resulting loss of widescreen resolution.
It’s also an unusually affordable option for projecting presentations onto sizeable screens – but again, the resolution/visible picture structure issues are a problem.
As a serious movie projector the P6200S is pretty much impossible to recommend for numerous reasons, headed by the appearance of much “rainbow” striping noise.
Movie fans would be better to consider a more dedicated home entertainment projector such as the BenQ W2000 or Optoma HD27. Home users wanting a projector to combat ambient light would also benefit from partnersing the BenQ or Optoma projectors with Optoma’s special ALR100 screen, if they can afford it.
The P6200S is a clever pitch: there really aren’t many super-bright projectors available in the sub-£1,000/$1500 world. But its 4:3 aspect ratio is a misjudgement, and ultimately its push for brightness on a budget creates more problems than it solves.