If you thought that getting BenQ’s HC1200 high-definition projector for $1,000 was the best bargain in classroom projectors these days, think again. With its H6517ST projector Acer has lowered the floor for HD imaging to $800, a point at which it should be in every classroom.
At 5.5-pounds the short-throw projector is small enough to hold under an arm and can be carried from room to room. It comes with a handy travel bag. For stationary setups, there’re three attachment points underneath for ceiling mounting, or if you want to set it up on a table, shelf or wall nook, the projector has adjustable legs in front and in the back corners.
The white ribbed case has a large lens in the front that comes with a snap-on cover and is tethered so it probably won’t get lost. There’s a recessed focus ring that can be hard to get to and is a little too stiff to turn, but the H6517ST should easily fit into just about any classroom décor.
Inside is a Digital Light Processing (DLP) imaging engine that creates a 1,920 by 1,080 stream of images that deliver roughly twice the number of pixels as a wide-XGA device. You can really see this difference with sharper edges and less of a saw-tooth pattern on diagonal lines. Don’t let its high resolution optics throw you, the H6517ST can work with sources as low as 640 by 480 resolution. In other words, it will help teach with better, more detailed images.
Because of its short-throw optics, the H6517ST can put up a sharp 5-foot image from less than two-feet away from the screen. There are fewer shadows for those who work close to the screen, but the image tops out at 25-feet, although it will likely be washed out in the typical room at that size.
As is the case with other short throw models, it does without one key item that can help make set up much easier: an optical zoom. It does have a 2X digital zoom, though, and the projector’s focus was excellent across the screen.
It has all the basics of those in its class, including automatic vertical keystone correction of up to a 40-degree tilt, but it does without horizontal keystone correction or image shifting that’s on more expensive projectors. What it doesn’t have is a LAN port. The H6517ST can use Acer’s $69 MHL adapter for connecting with a phone or tablet or the $200 WiFi adapter to get online. Its other ports bridge the old and new worlds of projectors with two HDMI, VGA, composite video connections and an audio jack. There’s a USB connector, but it’s for service purposes. All are on the projector’s side and Acer doesn’t sell a cable cover for the H6517ST.
A fast starter, the projector was able to start showing an image in 18 seconds and during start-up it displays your choice of Acer’s logo or your own image. It was able to cool down and shut-off in less than a second, making it good for an on-and-off day of use.
Overall, the colors are surprisingly good for this class of projector with solid blues and reds and vibrant greens. You have the choice of using seven different color modes, your own one or have it match five different wall colors. If you really want to tweak the projector, there are adjustments for color gain and bias as well as seven different gamma curves you can use.
The included remote control is small and covers the basics, but isn’t backlit and lacks a laser pointer – two good tools in the dark. You will have to get used to one oddity, though, that takes a few uses to remember. When making a selection, such as for the source, you need to select it and then use the right arrow to confirm the choice. Most other projects use the center button for activating the choice.
Despite having audio and a 2-watt speaker, the projector’s remote lacks a dedicated volume key up front. You can dig into the Menu to change the volume or silence it with the freeze button.
It uses a traditional high-pressure lamp that puts out 3,128 lumens of light, a little above its 3,000 lumen rating, in Bright mode, which is biased towards green tones. It’s fine for when you need a lot of light and are using mostly graphics. Standard or Movie mode looks much better, but you lose about a quarter of the brightness.
While in use, the projector consumes 257-watts of power, which can be lowered to 218-watts by using the Eco mode, but at the cost of lowered brightness. When it’s off, the H6517ST consumes 1 watt of power. Its $63 bargain of a replacement lamp is one of the cheapest around and is rated to last for 4,000 hours. All this adds up to estimated operating expenses of just $75 a year if it is used for 8 hours a day during the school year and off the rest of the time and electricity costs the U.S. average of 12 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s a bargain compared to the HC1200 $352 annual costs.
The Acer projector comes with a one-year warranty, but unlike most DLP projectors, it has a dust filter. The good news is that it likely won’t require replacing. Cancnes are that an annual vacuuming is all it will need.
In other words, the H6517ST is that rare piece of classroom gear that is as inexpensive to get and install as it is to use.
+ HD imaging
+ Short Throw optics
+ Excellent Focus
+ Bargain price
+ Low operating expenses
- No LAN connection
- Lacks optical zoom