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Yaber Ace K1 review: The low-cost projector king heads upmarket

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £459
inc VAT

Live with its limitations, and this is cracking 1080p projector for the money


  • Easy to set up and use
  • Clear, punchy, picture
  • Usable onboard sound


  • Colour reproduction could be better
  • Needs height and space to work
  • Unimpressive HDR and surround sound

If you know Yaber, you probably know it as one of the bigger names in low-cost home cinema projectors and for delivering products like the Yaber V7 Pro and Yaber V10 that give you a decent 1080p image for roughly half the price you’d pay for the equivalent projector from a bigger brand.

The Ace K1 is different. For a start, it’s more expensive. Amazon currently lists it at £459, although with a £100 voucher to bring that down to £359. More importantly, Yaber is pushing it not just on price but on features and performance, promising an ultra-bright image from a single-chip LCD and an LED light source, in a new sealed, dust-proof design. What’s more, it’s going big on ease-of-use, with new auto-focus and auto-keystone correction features, along with a built-in 15W audio system.

You might say that where previous Yaber projectors were trying to out-spec and out-perform the other budget brands, the Ace K1 is a play for the big leagues, where the likes of Optoma, BenQ, Epson and Viewsonic can be found.

Yaber Ace K1 review: What do you get for the money?

Mostly, you get a chunky home cinema projector with a 295 x 255mm footprint, standing 138mm tall on its rubber feet. At just over 4.7kg, it isn’t particularly portable and it needs a mains power supply through the figure-eight socket on the right-hand-side to run. However, with its grey fabric top and metallic grille wrapping around the front, it’s easily the best-looking projector Yaber has released until now – and it feels well-built to boot.

A panel on the rear houses all the connections, with two HDMI 1.4 ports, two USB ports, and what looks like a pair of 3.5mm audio jacks. One turns out to be a headphone output while the other works as an old-school composite video plus stereo input, using the supplied adaptor cable. Beneath the panel there’s a single 15W speaker, which gives you a much more powerful sound than you’ll get from many rivals, while Yaber also scores some extra brownie points by including an HDMI cable in the box.

The LCD chip has a native 1080p resolution but the projector can process 4K video and downscale it for display and even simulate HDR10 where the material supports it. However, with the LED light source rated at 650 lumens, you need to be realistic. If more expensive 4K projectors struggle with 3000 lumens to play with, you can be pretty sure that real HDR isn’t on the menu here.

The Ace K1 has a throw ratio of 1.51:1, so you’ll need 2.66m between your screen and the lens to get an 80in image and 3.33m to reach 100in, although a digital zoom gives you a little wriggle room at some cost to image quality. I also found that you need roughly 1.4m just to get the image in focus, so the K1 isn’t your best option for smaller rooms.

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Yaber Ace K1 review: What does it do well?

The Ace K1’s strengths start with setup. Provided you have adequate space to play with, you can plonk it on a stand or table at roughly the same height as the screen and the auto-focus and auto-keystone correction will do a great job of giving you a usable image. The system isn’t flawless – sometimes the focus was slightly soft or there was distortion on the top or bottom corners – but you can usually give it another go and it’ll get it right next time. If it doesn’t, there’s a fairly easy auto-calibration routine to get it back in business, although I didn’t need to use this during testing. 

It’s also simple to use, partly because Yaber hasn’t tried to squeeze in too many features and has ignored streaming apps altogether. There is built-in Wi-Fi for Miracast and Airplay, though, and you can switch between inputs and play media from a USB stick. Otherwise, you’re limited to a selection of picture and audio settings, with straightforward, easy-to-follow menus. Just plug in a source and you’re good to go.

Crucially, picture quality is good for the money. Images are surprisingly bright given the limited light output, and certainly brighter than you’ll get from most LED projectors at this price. Where the vast majority are practically unwatchable with lights on in the room or anything approaching daylight, this one still produces a visible picture. Not a great picture, mind, but visible.

Focuse properly, the image is crisp with goof levels of contrast, and you can get a nice, natural, cinematic presetation that’s cpmfortably better than what you’ll see from most £200 to £400 projectors. Streaming Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness from Disney+ or The Peripheral and Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power from Amazon Prime Video, I was struck by how well-balanced and watchable the picture was, particularly for what’s still quite a cheap projector.

I wouldn’t say it’s flawless, though. There’s still something missing in terms of colour depth and dynamic range. Sometimes the image appears slightly posterised, or the skin tones on a face look weirdly flat. Playing games, I had no problems with lag or poor response times, but I did find it hard to pick out movement or detail in darker areas and while you can boost the brightness this leaves the image looking slightly washed out. Switching between Standard, Movie and Game modes sometimes helps, while a User mode lets you tweak the brightness, contrast and colour settings to hit a more effective balance.

In testing, I found the Ace K1 covers just over 62% of the sRGB colour space, putting it behind the Epson CO-FH02 (85%) and the XGIMI Mogo Pro + (76%), so colour performance isn’t quite where it could be.

At other times, edges had a strange over-processed look, while sweeping panning shots were occasionally spoiled by a hint of judder, which isn’t something I’ve noticed before using the Roku Streaming Stick 4K as a source. We’re not talking about anything disastrous, but I’d say that while the image from the Epson CO-FH02 is slightly softer, the colour performance and motion handling put it ahead of the Yaber overall.

On the other hand, the Ace K1 beats the Epson when it comes to sound. I’d take claims of surround sound with a pinch of salt and things all get a bit congested and shouty at high volumes but you could watch a show or movie on this projector without plugging in a soundbar and still have a decent experience. It’s clear, handles dialogue well and there’s plenty of welly for action scenes and big orchestral scores. The easily accessible headphone socket also comes in handy for quiet viewing if you’re sitting close enough, or you can use the low latency Bluetooth connection if you’re not.

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Yaber Ace K1 review: What could it do better?

Sadly, audio also brings us to some minor niggles. For licensing reasons, the Ace K1 doesn’t support Dolby Digital output, so I had to switch to stereo output on our sources to get any sound out of the speaker. Weirdly, I also had to toggle subtitles off on my Roku 4K streaming stick.

I’d also say that, while the projector can process a 4K HDR image, your experience will vary. With Doctor Strange on Disney+ and The Peripheral on Amazon Prime Video, there was a slight upgrade in perceived definition when switching the source output to 4K HDR. However, with some 4K material, including Tenet and Pixar’s Lightyear, this seemed to exacerbate the weaknesses of the picture rather than deliver extra detail or convincing HDR effects.

Finally, while the auto-correction features do help, this still isn’t the most flexible projector when it comes to positioning. The single screw-out support at the front doesn’t allow for much upwards tilt, so you need the projector to be at a similar level to the screen.

I also found that off-angle positioning on the horizontal was a bit much for the auto-correction and you need a plenty of throw to get a good-sized image. The Ace K1 isn’t unusual in this respect, but the Epson CO-FH02, XGIMI Mogo Pro + or Viewsonic M2 might work better in smaller or oddly-shaped rooms.

Yaber Ace K1 review: Should you buy one?

If you’re looking for a projector for under £500, the Ace K1 should be on your shortlist. Partnered with a good streaming stick, it can output clear, bright and detailed images. While its colour reproduction isn’t perfect, it’s still good enough for a Saturday night watching movies.

What’s more, if you can pick it up for the current voucher price, then it’s a definite step up from the cheaper budget models and in the same class as projectors costing £100 to £150 more. At the £450 mark, however, it’s going up against projectors like the Epson CO-FH02 that offer slightly superior overall image quality. This is a great buy but there are better projectors out there if you can stretch your budget further.

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