Acer K10 LED Micro Projector review
Another respectable step forward for the pico-projector, but it's still not ready for the limelight.
We've been rooting for pico-projectors - ultra-small, LED-driven projectors - ever since the Samsung Pocket Imager SP-P300 arrived at PC Pro in May 2006. The appeal is obvious: tiny, quiet projectors that barely occupy the space of a pocket, never mind needing an entire carry case all to themselves.
So far, though, it's been baby steps: the best of the bunch so far was the tiny Dell M109S, and even that had a brightness rating of just 50 lumens (standard desktop projectors are routinely capable of more than 1,000) and a maximum resolution of a paltry 858 x 600.
Acer's K10 improves on that a little. The projector itself is small - just 127 x 122 x 49mm (WDH), and weighs just over half a kilogram. Indeed, it's so small that carrying around the power supply adds a significant amount of weight, made worse by the fact that the carry case doesn't include space for anything except the projector itself.
The controls are all top-mounted and feel a little cheap, and Acer hasn't pulled out all the stops in terms of connections: composite video and D-SUB are the only options, and you can forget about niceties such as an integrated speaker or a USB drive to play back JPEGs.
In use, the K10 is quiet: not silent by any means, but not loud enough to disrupt a quiet meeting room.
You can more or less forget about using it anywhere that you can't control the light: 100 lumens might be more than most other pico projectors, but it's still not that much.
In our test room we were happiest when the room was completely dark apart from the projector, which isn't much good if people want to take notes during a presentation.
Image quality, however, is surprisingly good. The K10 did well in our contrast tests, with both light and dark areas of images clearly visible.
Colour reproduction was good as well, and while the K10 will never be a good choice for home entertainment, films were by no means unwatchable on it in the right conditions.
The only major problem we had was focus. The K10 needs to be focused manually and the focus wheel, like the menu controls, feels light and cheap and is hard to adjust accurately.
It also needs a high degree of precision and can take a long time to get right. Even when we had the centre of our image perfectly set, we had trouble getting the top right-hand corner to focus at the same time.
The K10 is the best pico-projector we've yet seen. It produces a good image and, crucially, will fit in the smallest space; if you travel a lot - particularly by air - it's a useful piece of kit.
Even so, it's not very bright, and although it reproduces colour well, you wouldn't want to stare at its screen for hours on end.
Worse still, it costs £355 exc VAT, so if you can do without the K10's extreme portability there are plenty of proper projectors that are not all that much larger and will cost you less.