The Yaber Ace K1 is the most ambitious home entertainment projector we’ve already seen that it pairs a single LCD chip with onboard audio good enough to minimize the need for an external sound system. At $499.99, it’s more expensive than other models we’ve seen, but it’s also brighter, and it features a sealed optical engine that prevents dust from landing on the LCD screen. Yaber touts it as the best home projector under $800, which invites comparison with brighter models that offer better image quality, particularly the home theater epson 1080. But even compared to Epson, the Ace K1 offers stronger audio and a lower price. Its main flaw is a frustrating setup process.
One LCD chip, but zero rainbow artifacts
As with him Performance Vankyo V700W and the NexiGo PJ20, the Ace K1 avoids rainbow artifacts despite being built around a single chip. These artifacts, which look like red/green/blue flashes, come from sequential rotation of the primary colors and are a problem for single-chip DLP projectors. LCD models with three chips avoid the problem by dedicating a separate chip to each primary color and displaying all three at once.
A Yaber representative would only confirm the total number of LCD cells, not confirming the specific matrix, but it’s likely the same as for other projectors with a single LCD: a 5760 by 1080 pixel LCD, with red, green, and blue. filters on individual cells (total width of 5760 pixels is 1920 times 3). In any case, the combination of a chip with a white LED light source puts 1,920 by 1,080 red-green-blue pixels on the screen at once. The LED is rated for 25,000 hours, which means it should last the life of the projector.
The Ace K1 is both larger and cheaper than most low-cost single-LCD chip designs, weighing in at 8.6 pounds and measuring 5.4 by 11.8 by 10.1 inches ( HWD). However, it also has more capable onboard audio, using a 15-watt mono speaker. (The website says it’s a stereo speaker, but Yaber confirmed that it’s actually mono.) More importantly, the sound delivers high-quality audio for a projector of this size and punchy enough volume to fill a large family room, making it a solid example of an inexpensive room-to-room laptop. . For even higher quality or volume, you can connect to an external sound system using the 3.5mm audio-out port or Bluetooth.
Setup is complicated by an automatic keystone feature that, in testing, distorted the image rather than squared it. The first time I turned on the Ace K1, and every time I moved it even a little bit, it automatically focused and adjusted the keystone distortion. Autofocus worked fine, but auto keystone didn’t, making it impossible to correctly position the projector in relation to the screen until I turned the feature off.
According to Yaber, the issue I ran into was due to a loss of calibration due to rough handling during shipping, so it’s an issue only for some units. Yaber suggests recalibrating the projector in those cases, a somewhat finicky procedure that involves placing the projector 2 meters from a flat wall and going through a series of steps that Yaber’s support team can provide. After looking at the instructions, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort, as it’s best to avoid using keystone in any case. Using it will reduce image brightness and may introduce artifacts.
As with most projectors in its class, the Ace K1 lacks optical zoom, meaning the best way to adjust image size is to move the projector closer to or further away from the screen. There is a digital zoom, but together with Keystone, it is better to ignore it, for the same reasons.
Connection options include two HDMI 1.4 ports, plus two USB Type-A ports for reading files from a USB memory key or powering a streaming HDMI dongle. Wireless options let you mirror mobile devices, with easy connection via Miracast for Android phones and tablets or AirPlay for Apple devices. In my tests with an Android phone, it worked as promised.
You can also use Wi-Fi to join a network connected to the Internet to update the firmware. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi connection screen lacks an obvious way to move between the fields and the on-screen keyboard, or even to give an Enter command when you’ve finished typing your password. It took me several frustrating tries to learn how to enter the information without accidentally deleting the laboriously entered SSID and password. There was also no immediate indication that I managed to make the connection. I had to go to another screen to see that it was active.
Note also that Yaber’s website implies that the Ace K1 supports streaming, listing “Link to apps” as one of its features, complete with images of YouTube, Netflix, and other app icons. But what the site really means is that you can connect a streaming device or another device to display the material that the other device is streaming.
Testing the Ace K1: good brightness, acceptable color accuracy
The Ace K1’s menus include six preset color modes and one user mode. Each of the preset modes displays options for contrast, brightness, color saturation, sharpness, and color temperature, but if you make any changes, the changed version immediately becomes the new user mode, which you can then further adjust.
Some of the modes are much more useful than others, and none handle shadow detail well. After some preliminary experimentation, I started with Game mode, turning up the color saturation a bit and boosting the brightness a bit to improve shadow detail. I also adjusted the color temperature to decrease blue bias, which wasn’t a problem for watching video, but was enough to notice when watching movies. The end result delivered decent contrast for watching 1080p SDR movies, along with color accuracy that’s best described as close enough for most people to find acceptable and those with a critical eye tolerable.
The projector can also accept 4K HDR input. Unfortunately, it doesn’t handle HDR well. It doesn’t have HDR-specific picture modes, and the same modes and settings that handled 1080p SDR reasonably well were dark overall, even in bright scenes. I was able to get a viewable image by adjusting the contrast in User mode to a much higher setting. However, considering you still end up with 1080p resolution on the screen, and there’s only one user mode (which you’d have to reset every time you switch between SDR and HDR input), I’d recommend limiting connections to 1080p SDR and leaving the video source handles the conversion from 4K HDR to a 1080p SDR signal. Also note that there is no 3D support.
The input lag is adequate for casual gaming. Using a Bodnar meter, I measured it at 46 milliseconds for a 1080p/60Hz input. Serious gamers will want a measure of lag of about a third of the time, maximum.
Image brightness was consistent with the classification. Even at the settings I used, the projector filled my 16:9, 1.0 gain, 90-inch screen with a bright image and pleasantly saturated color, whether in a dark room or low ambient light. In a family room at night with the lights on, it was bright enough to illuminate my 80-inch, 1.0-gain display, and also delivered a viewable (if washed-out) image during the day.
Verdict: A reasonable option falls a bit short
The Ace K1’s combination of brightness, image quality, robust audio, and promised dust-proof optical engine are enough to make it worth considering. The low price is also a big plus, with a company representative noting that the MSRP is actually $399.99 even cheaper. (Both Amazon and Yaber’s website currently list it at $499.99, though Amazon is offering a $150 “coupon” discount as of this writing.) However, issues with automatic keystone adjustment, a poorly implemented Wi-Fi connection screen, and other interface issues continue to make it as easy to use as it should be.
If you don’t want to risk solving puzzles to set up your projector, both the V700W and PJ20 offer similar single-chip LCD designs and are easier to set up and use. None match the Ace K1 for brightness or onboard audio quality, however, and it’s also not dustproof, allowing you to wipe the occasional dust speck off your LCD screens. Between the two, the V700W offers the loudest, most robust audio at a higher brightness price.
If you’re willing to stretch your budget a bit, consider moving up to the Epson Home Cinema 1080. It doesn’t offer particularly impressive onboard audio, but it does offer better color accuracy than any of the other models mentioned here, along with much higher brightness, and Its three-chip design also ensures that it won’t display any rainbow artifacts.
The bottom line
The Yaber Ace K1 home entertainment projector is plagued by some frustrating setup issues, but it delivers a viewable image, decent brightness, and solid sound quality.
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