Turning to 2D, we’d frankly expected the worst. And for a minute, that’s exactly what we thought we’d got. But thankfully the horribly washed out, over-bright image on show was a result of the projector for some reason retaining the 3D image presets that automatically kick in when the projector detects a 3D input. Once we’d manually deactivated DLP Link in the menus, we were able to access the previously greyed out picture presets again, and simply by choosing the Movie preset we ended up with a picture that was actually startlingly good in most ways.
Particularly unexpected but welcome is the depth of the H5360BD’s black level response. Inevitably for the money there’s a degree of grey mist over dark areas, but it’s not as pronounced or distracting as it usually is on uber-cheap projectors. In fact, it’s superior quite clearly to the black level response of the recently-reviewed Vivitek D538W-3D 3D-Ready projector - and that model costs £150 more.
Colours are likable too, delivering plenty of punch and brightness yet retaining acceptably believable tones. To be clear, there’s nothing like the same subtlety in blend resolution and range of tones that you would get on a more expensive projector, but this doesn’t stop images being enjoyable.
Non-3D HD pictures also oddly look slightly sharper than the 3D ones, making us feel less aware of the projector’s non-full HD native resolution. Motion is a little prone to judder but not unacceptably so, and there’s only the occasional appearance of the dotting noise during camera pans or over skin tones, as people cross the screen, that you often get with cheap single-chip DLP projectors.
Another smaller issue is that in full brightness mode - the one you should use for 3D - the projector does run slightly noisily. But it’s not really excessive, and switching to the eco lamp output for 2D viewing reduces the noise level dramatically.
If you pan quickly around while gaming you can sometimes see a momentary 'colour leak' around the edges of bright objects, and it’s also possible to see traces of pixel structure in the image if you’re sat too close to the image. But this isn’t noticeable from any half-way sensible viewing distance.
In fact, the H5360BD might have been one of the easiest budget recommendations we’ve ever tested were it not for one single but potentially ruinous flaw: the rainbow effect. Dark scenes routinely show up the telltale red, blue and green striping over any bright sections that might be in the image, and you’re also aware of the issue if you happen to flit your eyes any significant amount around the image.
During bright scenes the issue is far less obvious. But of course, precious few films contain exclusively bright scenes, and whenever a dark scene appears, if you’re susceptible to seeing the rainbow effect, you will certainly feel distracted by it.
The key bit of that last line is ‘if you’re susceptible’. For we’ve consistently found that some people are much more affected by the rainbow effect than others. We actually think we’ve become quite susceptible to it over our years of reviewing projectors, so it’s possible other people won’t feel that it’s nearly as severe an issue as we do. All we can suggest is that you give an H5360BD a trial yourself - ideally with anyone else in tow who’s likely to be watching it much if you buy one - and see how you get on.
Trying to get a demo or ‘try before you buy’ go with an Acer H5360BD might sound a hassle, but we’d argue that it’s definitely worth it. For if it turns out that you aren’t bothered by the rainbow issue, you’ll be free to bag yourself more genuine projection fun than we would frankly have thought possible for £530.