Native 1080p resolution. Bright. Short throw. 1.1x optical zoom. Supports 3D for video sources, like Blu-ray players. Comes with two pairs of 3D glasses. Short lag time. Three HDMI ports. Near-excellent video quality.
Shows rainbow artifacts in video, particularly for black-and-white source material.
Despite showing rainbow artifacts, the Acer H7550ST is a tempting choice as a home-entertainment projector, thanks to its bright image, a short throw combined with a 1.1x zoom, full 3D support, and a lag time that’s suitable for gaming.
Compared with the Optoma and Epson models, the H7550ST is notably bigger and a little heavier, at 3.9 by 14 by 9.5 inches (HWD) and 7 pounds 8 ounces, which makes it more cumbersome to carry with you to a friend’s house for a movie night or gaming. However, it’s still small and light enough that if you don’t have room for installing it permanently, you can store it away and then set it up quickly and easily when you want to use it. Acer even supplies a soft carrying case with reinforced side panels.
Setup is a little unusual for a short-throw projector. Most short-throw models don’t offer any zoom, which means you have to move the projector when you want to adjust the image size. The H7550ST’s 1.1x zoom gives you some flexibility for exactly how far to place it from the screen for a given size image. However, the cost of this added convenience is that even at its maximum zoom setting, the H7550ST has a longer throw than most short-throw models.
For most of my tests, I set the lens to its maximum zoom setting and used a 90-inch image (measured diagonally) at the native 16:9 aspect ratio, which put the projector 53 inches from the screen. As a point of comparison, the Acer H6517ST, which offers a short throw without optical zoom, delivers the same size image at 38 inches from the screen.
In most other ways, setup for the H7550ST is standard. Choices for image input on the back panel include two HDMI ports, a VGA port, both composite and S-Video ports, and three RCA connectors for component video. As with an increasing number of projectors today, there’s also a third HDMI port in a hidden compartment at the right-front-top section of the projector. The hidden port is meant for a streaming wireless adapter, should you want to use one. Both it and one of the HDMI ports on the back also support MHL.
The H7550ST can also be used with Acer’s WirelessHD Kit ($199), which integrates nicely with the projector. The optional kit includes a transmitter that you connect via HDMI cable to an image source and a receiver that plugs into one of the projector’s HDMI ports.
When the receiver is plugged in, the H7550ST automatically replaces the appropriate HDMI option on its source menu with a WirelessHD option. Choose it, and if the WirelessHD connection isn’t already established, you’ll see step-by-step setup instructions on the screen. The instructions basically tell you to connect the transmitter, plug in its power adapter, and turn it on. Not only is the WirelessHD easy to set up, but it worked flawlessly in my tests, with no noticeable difference between using it and connecting via HDMI cable instead.
As with any single-chip DLP projector, discussing the H7550ST’s brightness gets a little complicated, because of differences between white brightness and color brightness. Briefly, unlike three-chip LCD projectors, which have the same brightness level for both, most DLP projectors deliver a lower color than white brightness, which can affect both color quality and the brightness of color images. The difference in the two levels means that the 3,000-lumen rating for the H7550ST may or may not translate to a brighter full-color image than you’ll get with an LCD projector like the Epson 2040, which has a lower rating, but has the same color as white brightness. (For more on the topic, see Color Brightness: What It Is, Why it Matters.)
As a reality check, in my tests in theater-dark lighting, the H7550ST was too bright at its brightest setting for the 90-inch image that I used. I had switch to Eco mode to find a comfortable level. You can also lower the brightness by choosing one of projector’s predefined lower-brightness settings or by turning off the DLP Brilliant Color feature. Both choices have the added benefit of improving color quality as well.
Image quality for 2D video is near excellent, at least in Movie and Dark Cinema modes, which offer the best color quality. The brightest mode had a green tint in my tests, which is a common issue for projectors, and some colors in each of the two brightest modes—Bright and Standard—were dark in terms of a hue-saturation-brightness color model, which is expected for projectors with a significant difference between white and color brightness.
Beyond that, the projector did a near-excellent to excellent job on our tests with shadow detail (details based on shading in dark areas). I also didn’t see any motion artifacts or posterization (shading changing suddenly where it should change gradually), even on test clips that tend to cause those problems. I saw some moderate noise in video clips that tend to show noise, but not enough to be an issue for most people.
The H7550ST also does a better job of avoiding rainbow artifacts than many DLP projectors, but it still shows some. I saw them often enough in my tests that anyone who sees them easily will notice them, and may find them bothersome, particularly with black and white source material.
Image quality for 3D video is also near excellent. For those aspects of image quality that both 2D and 3D share, the quality was similar in my tests. I didn’t see any crosstalk, and I saw only a hint of 3D-related motion artifacts. A notable extra for the H7550ST is that it comes with two pairs of DLP-Link glasses. Most projectors don’t come with any.
Two other pluses are the H7550ST’s stereo sound system and short lag time. The two 10-watt speakers offer good sound quality, with enough volume to fill a small family room. If you want better quality or higher volume, you can connect an external sound system to the audio output, or use the built-in support for Bluetooth to connect to headphones or speakers. Gamers will appreciate the short lag time, which I measured, using a Leo Bodnar Video Input Lag Tester, at 34 milliseconds (ms), or a two-frame lag at 60 frames per second.
Be sure to consider the Epson 2040 for its guaranteed rainbow-free images, particularly if you see rainbow artifacts easily and expect to watch much black-and-white source material. Also worth looking at is the Acer H6517ST, which has an even shorter throw than the Acer H7550ST. That said, if you don’t see rainbow artifacts easily or don’t find them annoying, the Acer H7550ST offers a short lag time for gaming, an eminently usable sound system, and a bright image, with near-excellent image quality. Although it costs a little more than the competition, it largely justifies the price by adding a zoom to the short throw, and bundling in two pairs of 3D glasses.
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