Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Acer P1383W projector
It's inexpensive and can be used in a wide range of scenarios at home, in the boardroom, or even in the classroom
- Low price
- Display size capabilities
- Auto skew adjustment
- Excellent test reproduction
- Colours not always accurate
- Rainbow effect prominent during films
- Average presets
It’s not a multimedia enthusiast’s projector, but the Acer P1383W excels in presentations filled with text, and is good enough for the casual home movie viewer or gamer.
Price$ 699.00 (AUD)
Acer’s P1383W is an appealing projector thanks to its high ease of use and a competitive price. It’s suitable for first-time buyers who are switching from a television or building their first home entertainment area, or for small businesses that need something for their boardroom. But is its performance memorable enough to make it worth considering?
Design, setup, and features
The P1383W is a traditional-looking DLP chip-based projector that has a minimum throwing distance of 1m, and a maximum of 10m. The lens at the front has zoom and focus control, there is a leg for height adjustment, and it features automatic skew correction. On the side, it houses S-Video, composite, VGA (two of them), and a full-sized HDMI port. It can be connected to more than one device if needed. There is also a mini-USB port in an exposed panel beside the power outlet.
The top of the chassis contains the on/off button, which is underneath the lamp temperature indicator. The projector also has front-facing speakers which can distribute simple audio with enough volume to fill a mid-sized boardroom (for about 10 people), but they are inadequate for entertainment purposes (be it for watching movies or gaming).
Like most projectors, the P1383W can be used as a standard tabletop unit or mounted to a ceiling. We used the former method and took advantage of the adjustable leg on the bottom of the device, which extends 28mm to tilt projections upwards while maintaining a perfect horizontal position.
It’s important to note that this isn’t a short-throw projector and that some distance will be required in order to achieve a large screen size. For ultimate convenience and to save space, you’ll have to mount it to a ceiling. You can control the projector with the bundled remote, which, in addition to power and source control, also allows for zooming, freezing a frame (without pausing the content being displayed), and adjusting performance and image settings.
We tested the P1383W by projecting from a distance of 2m. This gave us a diagonal display size of 161cm (or 63.3in), framed by a width of 133.5cm and a height of 87cm. According to Acer, the device can produce a diagonal image size between 27in and 300in, so it can serve anything from a small home entertainment area to a large boardroom.
The best part about the P1383W is its automatic skew adjustment. This feature automatically recognises the vertical tilt of the projector based on the surface onto which it is projecting, and straightens the image appropriately. This adds flexibility to the deployment of the projector, as you can point it upwards or downwards to get the best height for your environment without unsafely stacking it on a bunch of books, for example.
The projector has a native resolution of 1280x800 pixels, which, for the price, makes it quite a competitive product. The resolution can be stretched up to 1920x1200 pixels, depending on your source, but doing so requires magnification; you will have to enlarge text and icons in order to maintain clarity, otherwise text becomes difficult and uncomfortable to read.
At 1280x800, the P1383W is able to produce very crisp text, falling short of perfect due to slight feathering. We managed to browse the Web, read articles, and even type this review without eye fatigue. But while it thrives in delivering readable content, the projector produces very mixed results when it comes to colour.
Using Star Trek: Into Darkness, we found that in some scenes colour was very accurate, bright, and vibrant, but during others it appeared dull and off tone. This was similarly the case when viewing colours on Web sites. For example, the orange components of the Good Gear Guide Web site were reproduced incorrectly when compared to various high-definition displays, including that of our source laptop. Blacks delivered by the P1383W were largely underwhelming as well.
We should also note that while watching movies with busier scenes, during which we were moving our eyes across the screen consistently, there were very evident signs of rainbowing.
The above results were achieved using the presets that Acer has programed into the P1383W. Each is different and intended for specific purposes (for example: Education, Presentation, Movie), but none is ideal. Fortunately, the projector’s settings can be adjusted. We spent a bunch of time playing around with the settings, but never found a real sweet spot which could cater for a wide array of content. For example, the vastly diverse scenes within Star Trek: Into Darkness meant no single combination of settings worked perfectly with the entire film. That said, if you’re watching something animated like the animated children’s film, Bee Movie, you’ll experience much more consistent viewing.
The P1383W’s Osram lamp is 3100-lumen rated. It is more than adequate for a dark setting, but is also bright enough to be effective within an office environment subject to an abundance of fluorescent lighting. Upping the brightness beyond about 65 does result in substantial colour fading, but simultaneously makes the device more relevant within classrooms in which students need enough visibility to take notes and also view projections. According to Acer, the lamp will last 5000 hours in Normal Mode, 6000 hours in Economy Mode, and ‘1.1 years’ in ExtremeEco mode.
While it has its pitfalls, it’s important to remember that the P1383W doesn’t intend to be an enthusiast’s device. Its price and resolution are the two clearest indicators. It isn’t a product you’d use instead of a Full HD TV, nor one for heavy entertainment use. Instead, it’s an affordable option for small businesses and schools which require portable (on the tabletop) or immobile (mounted) projection for text and icon-based presentations.
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