(Pocket-lint) - The Acer K10 measures 127 x 122 x 48.5mm and comes with a neat case, so you literally can throw this into your bag alongside your laptop and always have the option of setting up a projector wherever you c an find power. One smart move by Acer is that the power supply the same as their laptops, so technically you only need to carry around one power supply, should you also have an Acer laptop.
In terms of connections, the K10 only has VGA and an S-video mini DIN, so you can hook it up to most PCs as well as pretty much any other device that will give you a video output via the normal yellow RCA connector. There is no account for audio in any form, unlike the recently announced LG HS102, possibly the closest competitor to the K10. If you are using a PC, this is perhaps no problem, but does mean you’ll have to make additional arrangements if using a standalone video source and need audio.
In the box you’ll find the powerpack as well as an RCA video cable and VGA cable. The latter two cables are only 1 metre long, which might sound enough, but if you are planning to use your projector in any form other than off the end of a boardroom table onto a screen, then you might need more distance between the projector and the PC.
Given the size of the projector, placement becomes perhaps more significant than with larger devices. There is a small screw foot at the front which will raise it up a bit, as well as a thread on the bottom to connect to a standard tripod, which in practical terms is a simple way to get some height on the projector so your audience can see (hence the need for a longer cable...).
The projector itself has a documented projection range of 60cm up to 2.4m (2-7.9ft). At 2.4m you’ll get the cited maximum screen size which is 60-inches. You can project a larger image, which you can still focus, although the colours drop out and definition is rapidly lost: at 5m the image is weak but it’s not impossible depending on what you want to show. We found that around 2m throw, giving you a 50-inch image, gave a good overall performance.
The native resolution is 858 x 600 pixels in a 4:3 aspect, however you can switch to 16:9. If you have a wide aspect notebook, you may find that things are a little squashed in 4:3, distorting your carefully prepared presentation. You’ll also find mysterious Auto and Full settings lurking in the aspect selection, with Full delivering possibly the best compromise for a straight up desktop projection from our 15.4-inch laptop.
The K10 has a maximum resolution of 1280 x 1024 or 1440 x 900, but choosing the options closest to the native resolution of the projector did produce the sharpest results as you might expect. With a brightness of 100 ANSI lumens, you’ll also find that it struggles with detail in daylight conditions, so you’ll want to turn off the lights and shut as many blinds as possible. That said if you main aim is on-the-fly presentations then it performs well enough.
Colours are a little warm out of the box, but can be adjusted via the menus. Given optimal conditions, the K10 performs reasonably well, be it delivering a PowerPoint presentation, or projecting video content.
Focusing is achieved with a manual control on the top, which is easy enough with a steady hand but a slight nudge either way will send it off again. We also found that unless the projector was square to the wall we noticed that focusing was different across the image – something that becomes more important when you are trying to eek out every ounce of detail.
The projection options are a little odd, perhaps, given the remit of ultimate portability, but you could ceiling-mount or use rear-projection (or both). This might suggest a more permanent installation, whilst the inclusion of a high altitude mode suggests that you might want to use the K10 in environments like an expedition basecamp (K2 perhaps?).
Other menu options give you colour and brightness adjustments, as well as keystone correction, although a neat auto correction will iron out the most typical distortions as you tilt the projector.
Start-up and shutdown are also pretty swift. All the information about the K10 refers to an Instant Pack feature, suggesting you don’t have to wait for the fan to run through a cool-down cycle before disconnecting, although when you do power down the projector it asks you to do just that: we found this was less than 1 minute, even after 2 hours of projection. We can only presume that you can just pull the plug and run without doing any damage.
The fan noise is noticeable but nothing like the volume from a full-sized projector thanks to the use of LEDs and the limited brightness. Think of it more like a hot notebook trying to cool itself down and you’ve got the right idea (28dB). As said, the K10 uses LEDs in a DLP system and Acer have them rated for 20,000 hours of life.
The thing that really strikes the K10 down now is the price. Coming in at around £400, up from the original £300 estimate when we first saw the projector in December, the K10 is not much cheaper than models with a much higher specification, which may limit its appeal.
A cheap and compact home cinema option this isn’t and for £50 more you can buy a more fully-featured high-definition projector, albeit much larger in size.
The real appeal of this projector will be for the business traveller who can’t afford the size and weight of a full projector, but can slip this into their hand luggage and know that they’ll be able to deliver their killer pitch with a projector and the overall score takes this remit into consideration.
For those looking for a projector for occasional use, although the K10 is still pretty cheap, we’d opt for something with greater definition and increased brightness.