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Remember how the InFocus X10 shifted the projector price goalposts recently? Well, now Acer is already doing it again with the H5350: an HD Ready DLP projector that can be yours for £421. Yes, £421.
Surely such a crazy price must mean the H5350 is a basic data projector with some half-arsed video capabilities tacked on? Apparently not. On the Acer website the projector is the only model residing under the ‘Video' category heading, and the press release alerting us to its existence clearly calls it a ‘home theatre projector'. Crikey.
Even more compelling evidence for the home theatre argument is the H5350's use of video-friendly DLP technology rather than PC data-friendly LCD technology, and a really respectable (given the price) contrast ratio of 2,000:1.
This latter figure suggests that the projector places plenty of emphasis on black level response, a picture element we've generally found to be essential in delivering a truly cinematic home theatre picture (rather than the brightness element more crucial to data projection).
The projector's native resolution of 1,280 x 720 is not, of course, up to the Full HD mark of the £900 InFocus X10. But even getting an HD Ready resolution for £412 is amazing enough, frankly.
Really the only specification that gives me any cause for concern is a quoted brightness level of 2,000 ANSI Lumens. A figure as high as this can be a good thing if it arrives in the company of a really high contrast ratio. But as it stands, the 2,000 ANSI Lumens brightness/2000:1 contrast ratio balance makes us wonder if the picture might be a touch PC-biased after all.
Perhaps inevitably, £421 does not buy you much hardware. The H5350 is absolutely tiny by home cinema projector standards, barely occupying more space than an Oxford English Dictionary. Of course, this is hardly a problem for the sort of casual user most likely to be interested in buying it, as it means it can easily be tucked on a bookshelf or in a cupboard when it's not being used.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, the H5350 is not going to win any design awards. It's essentially a white rectangular box, and that's it. But the glossiness of the white finish and the slight angle upwards from front to back of the top panel do at least give it a modicum of panache.
Connectivity gets the job done reasonably enough. I'd half expected not to find any digital video input on such a cheap machine, but in fact there is a solitary v1.2 HDMI, accompanied by component video, D-Sub PC, S-Video and composite video options. A built-in USB port slightly raises those ‘data presentation' concerns again - but then, of course, USB ports are increasingly common on all sorts of AV gear.