On the top of the PD 520 are the controls which consist of a simple layout of four directional keys, and buttons for select, menu and power. The left key doubles up as a manual source selector (if more than one device is connected) and the right re-syncs the image. Towards the front is a zoom. Should you need to fine tune the picture quality this can be done via the intuitive on screen menu and the manual focus ring around the lens.
Of course, if you want to mount the projector on the ceiling, which will be a popular decision for home or board room use, then these controls are going to be unreachable. So Acer supplies a chunky little remote control that can double up as a laser pointer for presentations. A direction pad also allows you to control the mouse pointer if you connect up to a PC, while front and back infrared sensors mean that you can stand pretty much anywhere in the room while using the remote.
As I had hoped, in operation the results were extremely impressive. The PD 520 has a brightness of 1500 ANSI lumens, which coupled with its contrast ratio of 1,800:1 means you can happily get away with operating the projector during the day. However, it’s at night, with the curtains drawn that the true benefits of the DLP engine are most evident.
Watching movies that use a lot of greys, silvers and blacks, such as Aliens in the Queen’s hive, or horror classic Cube, which is set entirely against the metallic backdrop of the prison-esque cubes, really shows off the PD 520’s ability to pick out subtle shades and tones. Similarly, the long, sweeping landscapes of Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient look stunning and vibrant.
Of course if you’re really into movies, you’ll probably want a projector with a 16:9 panel, and component video support. But, this little unit is more of an all-rounder, and with such a low price you can forgive it a few small shortcomings.
If there is a complaint to be leveled at the PD 520 it is that there can be some colour distortion when bright areas suddenly become dark. The most obviously example of this is not during hectic battle scenes or fast moving action, but during subtitles, where the white text flashes up and disappears. For tiny moments after the subtitle disappears a slight flash of green can be seen. This is not the dreaded rainbow effect (where colours separate into rainbow like effect) which can make some people nauseous, but instead a kind of momentary residue left from the drop off of bright colour. I cannot label this a major criticism as I only notice it when trying, and few people I show it to see it beforehand. Certainly, it does not spoil what is, overall a brilliant image.