Yaber Ace K1 projector review

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Yaber Ace K1 projector review

Introduction

The Yaber Ace K1 is an ambitious home projector with a single-LCD design, with fully sealed dust-protected optical package, automatic focus and keystone correction, above average 650 ANSI lumens of brightness and a robust 15-watt speaker.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

Yaber thinks that it is the best home projector for under $800. Better yet, it costs a lot less than that at an MSRP of $500, and normally much lower than even that due to frequent promotions and discounts.

Hardware

Let’s start with some specs and a hardware overview of the Yaber Ace K1.

Yaber Ace K1 at a glance:


  • Dimensions: 299x256x136mm, 3.9kg.
  • Optical parameters: LCD projector; 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) optical resolution; 16:9 aspect ratio; 1600:1 contrast ratio; IP5X dustproof sealed optical engine.
  • Projection parameters: 650 ANSI lumens (advertised); 40~150-inch screen diagonal; 1.54:1 throw ratio; 25,000 hours LED light source life.
  • Optical adjustment: Automatic keystone correction; automatic focus.
  • Audio: 15W single speaker.
  • I/O: 2xUSB Type-A port for data transfer or power; 2xHDMI 1.4 ports; 1x AV combo 3.5mm port; 1x 3.5mm audio jack; Touch Keys (Power, Menu, Source, Back, OK, Navigation).
  • Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi 6; Bluetooth 5.0; IR remote control.
  • Other features:Remote control in box; Wireless projection support (Miracast, Apple AirPlay).

The Yaber Ace K1 is a fairly compact 299x256x136mm unit that weighs 3.9kg. Not exactly portable, but definitely easy enough to move from room to room. In terms of I/O, the Ace K1 gets two HDMI 1.4 ports for input at resolutions of up to 4K and two USB 2.0 ones, either for attaching storage or providing power to something like a streaming stick. There is also one combo AV 3.5mm jack and a standard 3.5mm audio jack.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

There are two fans in the unit. One blows air out the back the other is positioned on the left-hand side, opposite the sealed optical engine. Power input goes on the left-hand side of the unit as well. Power conversion is done internally on the Ace K1, so it takes mains power directly, with no bulky power brick required, which we like. The single 15W speaker is positioned around the back as well, right under the inputs for the projector.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

The Ace K1 can be controlled either through the included remote or the on-device button controls. These are all capacitive buttons with clear labels and functions. Well-positioned and convenient to use. The remote control is well thought-out as well with useful buttons, like a focus up and down control, a single button to trigger automatic focus and automatic keystone, as well as a source button, home button and menu button, among others.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

The lens dominates the front of the unit with a 1.54:1 throw ratio. According to official specs, the Yaber Ace K1 can deliver an image with a diagonal between 40 and 150 inches. Yaber rates the max brightness of the projector at 650 ANSI Lumens, and its LED light source should be good for up to 25,000 hours.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

Also on the front of the unit, we find a camera and some sort of time of flight sensor that deliver the necessary input for the projector’s automatic focus and keystone adjustments. We’ll talk more about how these behave in the performance section.

The Ace K1 has a very subdued overall design and exterior. It rather industrial with its grey mesh on top and should blend in just fine into pretty much any environment.

One thing worth noting is the absence of any obvious mounting point on the bottom of the projector. Thus the Yaber Ace K1 is meant to sit on a table and not be ceiling-mounted.

Let’s briefly talk about the guts of the Yaber Ace K1, starting with connectivity. The projector actually has Dual-Band (2.4/5GHz) Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi 6 support. Don’t be deceived by some of the marketing, though. There are no actual “smarts” or apps on board the projector. Instead, Wi-Fi is used for wireless connection to a device like an Android or Apple one for wireless streaming. There is Bluetooth 5.0 on board the Ace K1 too, which is meant to connect an external audio device, like a Bluetooth speaker or a soundbar. A great addition to the mix.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

Let’s talk about the fully sealed optical engine now. As we mentioned, the Ace K1 uses an LED light source. It also employs a single LCD with 5,760 x 1,080 total pixels. That odd horizontal pixel count is exactly three times 1,920. There are red, green and blur filters in front of each LCD cell, and that’s how the Ace K1 produces its colors. All things said and done, once the image is combined, it has a FullHD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) native resolution.

As for the “sealed” part, Yaber promises that the entire optical engine with all of its parts is protected from the the elements, but primarily dust. This should negate the need to open and clean the unit as you would on other LCD projectors.

Performance and experience

Let’s start with a look in the box and the setup process. The Yaber Ace K1 comes with a solid accessory package. Besides the main unit, you also get a remote control, a lens cover, a power cord, a male-to-male HDMI cable, a male 3.5mm to male triple RCA AV cable, a cleaning cloth, a quick start guide and a warranty card.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

Once plugged in, the Yaber Ace K1 boots up very quickly since it has a very lean and minimal proprietary OS of its own. Judging by some of its menus, it is based on Android or Android TV but there is no option to install apps. The home screen menu is nice and tidy. We particularly appreciate the big icons in the top right corner to indicate the presence of external storage and Wi-Fi connection.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

The settings menu is well organized. There aren’t that many options to play around with, but the essentials are all covered. You can control the projection mode (front or back), toggle the automatic keystone, focus on or off, and do the two processes manually as well. You can also set the Ace K1 to boot straight to an input source rather than the main menu. There is scheduled shutdown and even a few language options.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

The Bluetooth menu is very straightforward. You just look for an external audio device through it and pair it. The process of connecting to the Ace K1 from an iOS or Android device for streaming is also very simple and in both cases, no extra apps are required. Yaber managed to get the corresponding built-in protocols to work.

The Wi-Fi settings menu was the only item in the menu we found really hard to deal with. The prompt for entering the Wi-Fi password has no obvious way to confirm the entry, which is annoying.

Other than that, the software is clean and straightforward. We also appreciate the inclusion of an update option in the menu, though we have our doubts as to how often updates will be pushed to the Ace K1.

The fans on the Yaber Ace K1 are loud, annoyingly so. It’s probably the biggest downside of the projector. The powerful 15W speaker can still easily drown out the noise, but ones silence sets in it’s very noticeable.

When turn on the Ace K1 for the first time, you will want to position it properly for a clean image. We instantly noticed that the Ace K1 projects straight out instead of at a slight upward angle, which is not ideal.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

Automatic focus and keystone promise to produce a straight and sharp image on a wall/screen with any reasonable arrangement. And our review unit did great with autofocus indeed. However, its automatic keystone adjustment was a bit wonky. It never actually managed to straighten the image and yet reacted quite drastically to even the smallest adjustment in angle we made to the projector. We ended up having to disable the feature altogether to get a usable image alignment. Apparently, you can calibrate the auto keystone, but it’s a complicated process from what we’ve found on the matter.

The Ace K1 is not a short-throw projector and does not claim to be one. The closest we got it to focus properly was about 1.3 meters away from the screen/wall. We are only mentioning this since you shouldn’t be tempted to treat the Ace K1 as a “travel” projector. It requires a decent amount of space to work.

Now that setup is complete, let’s look at what the Ace K1 is actually like for consuming content. The projector is free on any rainbow artifacts despite using a single-chip design. These nasty flashes typically come through quickly cycling through the red, green and blue color channels on the LCD to create a single perceived image.

The Ace K1 has several built-in color modes: Standard, Vivid, Sport, Movie, Game and Energy Saving. Beyond that, you also get controls for adjusting brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness and color temperature. As soon as you touch any of the sliders, however, the projector will switch over to the User color mode.

This effectively means that there is just one user-adjustable mode, which is not ideal. However, given that the Ace K1 doesn’t support things like HDR output, you are rather unlikely to need many tweakable color profiles to flip between. Still, at least a couple would have been nice.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

The Yaber Ace K1 has plenty of brightness to throw around. It can successfully be used in a room with full light-control as it does not require complete darkness as many cheaper projectors do. Contrast is great on the Ace K1. You might want to boost its image brightness a bit to improve shadows, but even out of the box, it is very usable in Standard or Game mode.

Colors are accurate to our eye, though there is a slight blue tint out of the box, which can easily be corrected for. We ended up applying a slight brightness boost and color correction to the Game profile and just leaving it at that.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

The Ace K1 has a built-in file manager/player. We couldn’t determine exactly what apps Yaber is using, but it’s quite limited in what it can do. There are no search options and no file operations like copy, move or delete. There aren’t even file thumbnails, which is annoying. So is the lack of a list view of some sort. You just get an icon view with a very short bit of the file name underneath each item that scrolls very slowly. As we said, it is a very basic file manager that leaves us wanting more.

The same goes for the built-in video player. It only offers playback controls and a shuffle/repeat toggle. Not even subtitle support is included. At least video codec support for local playback is fairly decent. We managed to successfully play: MPEG1, MPEG2, h.264, h.265(HEVC), VP6, VP8 and VP9. MKV files were a hit-or-miss affair, and so were HDR files, though most HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision files we tried did work.

Audio support appears to be more limited. We managed to get AAC and LPCM sound working just fine, but most Dolby standards (Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD), as well as DTS (DTS-HD, DTS-HD MA, DTS:X), didn’t work.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

It is hence much easier and frankly advisable to pick up a streaming stick and keep it hooked up to the Ace K1. Something like an Amazon Fire TV or a Chromecast with Google TV. That way, you can rest assured that you have all of the multimedia and streaming apps you want. We tried a Fire TV Stick 4K Max, and it worked like a charm. Plus, this way, any potential conversion of media from HDR to SDR is handled by the streaming device instead of the Ace K1.

We also tried hooking the Ace K1 to a game console. The Nintendo Switch made for an excellent match due to its 1080p output resolution when docked. The experience is decent and responsive enough for casual gaming. The latency of the projector is around 46 milliseconds at 1080p@60fps, which is fine but definitely not good enough for competitive gaming.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

In case there was any doubt that 1080p is good enough for presentations, we tested some using the built-in office suite app inside the Ace K1 and by hooking it up to a PC. Both worked great. The built-in office functionality is merely a viewer app for popular office formats like word documents and presentations.

Last but not least, we had to test the wireless casting capabilities of the Yaber Ace K1. These worked great with both an Android and an iOS device. As we already mentioned, screen casting to the Ace K1 requires no additional software on either OS. We found the connection to be excellent and very stable, with little to no visual artifacts.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

Final thoughts

The Yaber Ace K1 is a very capable projector at its price point of around $350. It performs well enough to be a solid recommendation for casual multimedia viewing, gaming, and business use. The promise of a maintenance-free, fully sealed optical engine is also enticing, and the 1080p native resolution is good enough for most purposes.

Its audio output, while just mono, is pretty powerful and clean. We also really enjoyed the built-in Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to easily connect an external speaker or soundbar.

Generally, I/O is great on the Ace K1. We enjoyed the absence of an external brick, which makes it more portable. And the Wi-Fi 6-based wireless screen casting option is really workingly flawlessly, meaning you only need your phone to get going.

The Ace K1’s main shortcoming are its fans, which are annoyingly loud. Automatic keystone adjustment didn’t quite work for us reliably. There is no easy way to mount the projector, and its software, while clean and organized, is rather basic in its functionality.

Yaber Ace K1 projector review

All said and done, the Ace K1 gets a soft recommendation from us. It’s hard to ignore the value proposition that it offers. If you are fine with its drawbacks and are in the market for a mid-tier projector, then this one is definitely worth considering. And loud fans aside, the rest are solvable with a cheap TV stick.

Pros

  • 1080p native resolution and bright at 650 ANSI Lumens.
  • Great picture free of rainbow effects. Very good contrast and colors.
  • Fully-sealed optical engine with no maintenance.
  • Automatic focus and keystone.
  • No external power brick.
  • Quick and clean OS.
  • Powerful 15W speaker, even if just mono.
  • Wireless casting from both Android and iOS works great.

Cons

  • Loud cooling fans.
  • No mounting points.
  • Projects straight forward, making installation tricky.
  • Automatic keystone can misbehave.
  • Basic built-in file manager and video player.
  • Lacks a proper smart OS.
  • Poor Wi-Fi setup UI.