Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/03/11/review_projector_acer_k10/

Acer K10 DLP pico projector

Smaller than its own power brick

By Leo Waldock

Posted in Hardware, 11th March 2009 13:02 GMT

Review Acer’s website describes the K10 as a "travel projector", but we reckon the tiny size and weight of this LED unit qualify it as a Pico Projector.

Acer K10

Acer's K10: lighter than its own power supply

The photos don’t do the K10 justice. Its dimensions are a diminutive 127 x 122 x 52mm tall, including the rubber feet. The weight of the bare projector is 540g, according to our kitchen scales, but you need to add another 630g for the 19V power brick. This is a pain as it takes up the same amount of space as the projector.

However Acer has a trick up its corporate sleeve. We are told that the K10 can be powered by the AC adaptor from an Acer laptop. This means you only have to carry one power brick and can give presentations with the laptop on battery, while the K10 runs on mains power.

Although the K10 is a DLP projector, the specification is quite unusual. For starters, there is the LED light source, which has a rated life of 20,000 hours. That ought to mean that you'll never need to replace the lamp. By contrast, an Acer PH530 projector has a rated lamp life of 2000 hours which means that the bulb will deteriorate after a couple of years of regular use and it costs £159 to replace.

Acer K10

Wee too

The downside of the LED light source is a brightness rating of a mere 100 lumens. We're used to projectors having a brightness of at least 1000 lumens, and 2000 or 3000 lumens are quite common. The consequence is that the K10 has a projection distance of 0.6-2.4m and a diagonal picture size of 38-152cm. These figures are one tenth of the ones you get with most projectors, which is logical as the brightness rating is also one tenth of other projectors'.

Added to that the K10 doesn’t have a zoom so you need to move the projector to change the size of the picture and then tweak the focus. Acer has included a 0.25in camera tripod thread on the base of the K10 so you can raise this tiny projector up to adjust the height of the picture. We were able to use the feather-like K10 on an incredibly flimsy camcorder tripod and the picture was entirely stable.

Acer K10

Not much in the way of portage

Setting up the K10 is a rapid process as there are so few options to investigate in the menu. You make adjustments using the menu button and four-way navpad on the top of the projector - there's no remote control. Presumably, this cuts costs by a modest amount but the likelihood is that Acer simply didn’t think a remote control was necessary.

Options include the display mode – standard, bright, video, black board and two user-definable modes – brightness, contrast and the ability to flip the picture around. There is no option for switching between Normal and Eco mode, which sounds sensible as there's no need with an LED projector to make the usual trade-off between brightness, bulb life and noise. The brightness rating is already very low, so is the 28dBA noise rating, and the life of the light source is huge.

These figures don’t tell the full story, though. The brightness and contrast on our review sample were both set at 55 per cent which seemed bewilderingly low. But the settings were correct. The displayed image rapidly becomes unpleasantly bright and washed out as you crank up the brightness and contrast any further. Yes, it’s true - this 100 lumens projector is unusable with the brightness set anywhere near maximum.

Acer K10

Not much desk space required

We were also surprised that the projector was unpleasantly noisy. It’s not so much the volume of the cooling fan - 28dBA is very quiet - but the tone of the sound was annoying. Make no mistake about it, we could happily live with the Acer K10, but we expected the projector to be utterly silent and our expectations were misplaced.

We weren’t entirely happy with the picture quality and that was despite the allowances we made for the limitations of the LED light source. Although the picture was reasonably sharp and clear, it could have been better. We suspect this is due to the bizarre native resolution of 858 x 600, which isn’t an option in Windows Vista. The closest we could get was 800 x 600 so we never saw this projector at its theoretical best. Instead, we used the maximum forced resolution of 1280 x 1024 which worked well but lacked pinsharp definition.

Acer K10

Not noisy, but annoying nonetheless

We also didn’t think much of the colour reproduction, which is pretty much par for the course with cheap DLP projectors. However, as the K10 is destined for a life of PowerPoint rather than home cinema it’s perhaps not a major problem.

Finally, there's the carry case. This is a tiny padded pouch that looks smart but which has no storage for any cables. In an ideal world, you'll use a laptop power supply for the K10 but there’s no getting away from the need for a cable to connect the projector to your Acer laptop. Acer supplies a 1m VGA cable as well as a short s-video cord, but they'll end up loose inside your bag where they will inevitably wrap themselves around all of your possessions.

When the K10 was announced we had hoped that it would sell for £299 but the actual price is £450. You buy get a much better projector for the same price in the shape of the Hitachi CPRX70, but you’ll be missing out on the pint-sized form-factor of the K10 if you do.

Verdict

If you’re sick and tired of lugging a bulky projector around and are prepared to sacrifice image quality for convenience then the K10 has a great deal to offer. As an added bonus, it's a safe bet you will never need to buy another projector lamp again. ®

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