Acer Predator Z850 review: A beast of a gaming projector… with a price tag to match

Gaming / Gaming Hardware / Hardware Reviews / Reviews
Acer-Predator-Z850-review

With its bright, clear picture, and ultra-wide support, the Acer Predator Z850 Gaming Projector is also sleek looking, but most likely out of the price range of most gamers.

There’s no doubt that gamers like going bigger and better, and with more people setting up home theatres in their houses, there are plenty of projector options out there. Our Acer Predator Z850 review takes a look at one heck of a short-throw ultra-wide laser DLP projector which specifically targets the gaming crowd.

Specifications

The Acer Predator Z850 Gaming Projector has the following features and specifications:

  • Native Resolution: 1920 x 720
  • Maximum Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Standard Mode Brightness: 3000 lm
  • Native Aspect Ratio: 24:9
  • Compatible Aspect Ratio: 16:9, 4:3
  • Contrast Ratio: 100,000:1
  • Throw Ratio: 0.25
  • Vertical Keystone Correction: -5°/+5°
  • Projection Lens
    • Lens Type: Manual Focus
    • Maximum Lens Aperture: F/2.4
    • Maximum Focal Length: 5.38 mm
  • Lamp
    • Lamp Type: Laser
    • Number of Lamps: 1
    • Normal Mode Lamp Life: 20000 Hour
    • Economy Mode Lamp Life: 30000 Hour
  • Interfaces/Ports: 2x HDMI, 1x USB, 1x Composite Video, 1x Serial, 1x RJ-45, 2x VGA Input, 1x VGA Output, 3x Audio Inputs, 1x Audio Outputs, 1x Audio Line In, 1x Audio Line Out
  • Audio
    • Number of Speakers: 1
    • Speaker Output Power: 10 W
    • Speaker Output Mode: Mono
  • Fan Noise
    • 29 dB Approximate Economy Mode
    • 33 dB Approximate Standard Mode
  • Weight: 12.10 lb (approx)

What’s in the box

  • Predator Z850 Gaming Projector
  • AC Power Cord
  • Battery for Remote Control
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Remote Control
  • User’s Guide (CD-ROM)
  • VGA Cable
  • Carrying Case
  • Dust Filter

Design

There’s no question that the Acer Predator Z850 Gaming Projector is one of the sleekest looking projectors you’ll see. The projector is red and black and makes a bold statement. The front, back, and sides are red, while the top and bottom of the Z850 are black.  The top of the projector has angled features and the laser lamp is inset into one of these angled areas and faces towards the back of the projector. Just in front of the laser lamp area, you’ll find a number of buttons including power, menu, input, and an enter button surrounded by four arrows. Just above the power, menu, and input buttons are three lights for power, temp warning, and lamp warning.

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Acer Predator Z850 Gaming Projector.

The projector also comes with a remote control, but the on-projector buttons are easily accessible when you’re in a pinch.

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Included remote.

Being a short-throw projector, the back where all the ports and connectors are actually faces the screen which is actually quite fine as it will be between you and your screen while in use and you’ll only see the Acer logo and the IR window. As for the back of the projector, that’s where you’ll find plenty of ports including:

  • VGA IN 1
  • VGA IN 2/OUT
  • HDMI 1
  • HDMI 2/MHL
  • USB B
  • USB A
  • LAN (RJ-45)
  • Video
  • Audio (R) and Audio (L)
  • 3.5mm Audio Out
  • 3.5mm Audio In
  • 3.5mm Mic
  • RS-232
  • Kensington lock
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Acer Predator Z850 Gaming Projector back view.

Both the left and right side feature the same finned design for ventilation, but it’s on the left side you’ll see the three fans inside which draw air through the projector.

On the bottom of the projector are three tilt-adjustment feet, two near the back and one near the front. The feet can be adjusted to set the height and angle of the projector. Also located on the bottom under the right side is the focus switch. The switch is a slider format and simply sliding it forward or back adjusts the focus of the image.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this section, this is definitely one of the sleekest looking projectors you’ll see, with plenty of inputs to facilitate connecting to various devices.

Display

Throwing out 3000 lumens in standard mode, the Acer Predator Z850 puts out one bright, crisp display. This is partially due to the use of a laser diode lens and also the short throw technology which allows for a 120″ image with the projector only 18.5″ from the screen.

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The laser lens.

My projector screen is 106″ diagonal, and it worked great while using the projector in 1080p mode. One issue with running in 1080p mode is that there is a very faint light bleed that stretches out to the UltraWide mode dimensions. At first, it was distracting, but I did get used to it but at the same time it could be a deal-breaker for some depending on their setup.

When used in UltraWide mode, the projector will display an image between 120″ and 140″ when diagonally measured. Being as I only have a 106″ screen, when tested in UltraWide mode the image extended beyond the edges but I was still able to get a sense of the extra real estate the UltraWide resolution offers — albeit in a smaller resolution as it projects at 1920×720 in this mode.

Resolution aside, both modes were clear, crisp, and bright once set up and focused. The projector uses both Acer ColorBoost3D and Acer ColorSafe II for brighter, crisper, longer lasting colour, and it definitely delivers. With a 100,000:1 contrast ratio, and a wider colour gamut, the Z850 puts out an impressive picture. During gaming sessions, I didn’t notice any lag at all which can be a cause for concern while gaming with some projectors. Given the price tag on this beast though, I’d expected that it wouldn’t be an issue at all.

The Z850 is a DLP projector, and in a previous review I mentioned the DLP rainbow effect, and unfortunately it’s still something that’s present in this one for certain people — myself included. For the most part, it was o.k., but during screens with darker backgrounds and text especially, it was definitely noticeable.

Speakers/Sound

The Acer Predator Z850 boasts a 10W speaker, unfortunately, it’s only a mono speaker. While it is loud enough to hear in most rooms, there’s definitely a lack of bass and, well let’s be honest, with a screen this size you’ll definitely want to use it with headphones or a home theatre system.

Performance

We covered a bit on performance in the display section above already, but there are a few more points I’ll make here as well.

The UltraWide resolution did indeed increase the size of my field of view when I tested it with Battlefield 4, but I do most of my gaming on my Xbox One and was limited to using 1080p for the most part. With my testing with Battlefield 4 though, it definitely offered a bigger view of everything going on around me during gameplay, and I can definitely see how it would give some people an advantage by being able to see more than other players.

As far as the projector itself, it started up relatively quickly and wasn’t overly loud even when all the fans were kicking in. Part of the reason it may have felt quieter than my existing projector could also be the fact that it was sitting less than two feet from my screen instead of the twelve feet my current projector does.

Price/Value

With an MSRP of $4999.99USD, the Acer Predator Z850 Gaming Projector isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s currently not listed on Amazon either, so you won’t be getting any breaks there. While it is bright and has a fantastic picture, the support for ultra-wide 24:9 games is hit and miss and can be buggy depending on the game. It’s definitely higher priced than 1080p DLP projectors, but if you factor in that the bulb has a lifespan of 20,000 to 30,000 hours  — 10 times that of your standard projector — you can be assured you won’t be shelling out the $200 or $300 to replace your bulb a few times like you will with other projectors during the lifetime of the Acer Predator Z850.

Wrap-up

With its bright, clear picture, and ultra-wide support, the Acer Predator Z850 Gaming Projector is also sleek looking, but most likely out of the price range of most gamers.

Acer Predator Z850 Gaming Projector
4.4 Out of 5
Nailed it
Bright, clear picture. Ultra-wide resolution works well for supported games.
Needs Work
Light bleed when used in 1920x1080 resolution. No HDMI cable included. Super pricey.
Bottom Line
With its bright, clear picture, and ultra-wide support, the Acer Predator Z850 Gaming Projector is also sleek looking, but most likely out of the price range of most gamers.
Design5.00
Display4.75
Speakers/Sound3.75
Performance5.00
Price/Value3.50
*We were sent a demo unit of the Acer Predator Z850 Gaming Projector for the purposes of this review.
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