Acer K10 review
There are big digital projectors, for filling large auditoriums, pocket projectors for camera phone users who want to show off in pubs, and there's Acer's K10.
It's a glossy black unit, about the size of a Mac mini, with a 100-lumen output, and has been designed for small presentations. The neat thing about the K10 is that it doesn't use a conventional lamp.
Instead of a halogen or mercury lamp, this little projector uses an LED light source for its illumination. That source has a typical life of 20,000 hours, so you won't need to buy a replacement every couple of years. It also uses a Digital Light Processor (DLP), effectively an array of micro mirrors, so there should be little drop off in the brightness of the projector over time.
But at just 100 lumens, how bright is it? The K10 isn't going to compete with a 2000 lumen business projector, though light intensity is a logarithmic function, so 100 lumens is about 40% as bright as 2000. In practice, the picture produced by the K10 is perfectly viewable, as long as it's not in bright sunlight. You may have to draw a curtain or pull a blind, but it's not going to be a huge inconvenience.
The picture quality is generally pretty good. The projector's native resolution is a slightly strange 858 x 600 pixels, so an 800 x 600 image is no problem, and the picture is clean with little shimmer, even with fast moving content - it's certainly no problem with a Mac OS X Desktop. It can also show movies at up to WXGA (1440 x 900), downscaled.
What is a problem, and an unfortunate one, is the fan noise. For such a small device, with a high-efficiency light source, it's a shame that the K10 needs active cooling, but it does and the fan is loud enough to be distracting.
Controls are arranged on top and give precise adjustment of viewing parameters, including excellent keystone control, in conjunction with the on-screen menu. Acer has also thought to fit a standard camera tripod mount underneath, so the physical setup is very flexible. This type of fixing isn't normally available on a projector, because of the weight, but the K10 only weighs 0.54kg.
The power supply is over half as big as the projector itself and you'll need to carry them both. If you have an Acer laptop, both can share one power supply, but that's not a lot of help if your run an Apple portable.
The only inputs on the back of the K10 are VGA and S-Video, so you'll need a converter or cable with mini DVI on one end and VGA on the other. Apple sells one for about £19, but cheaper alternatives are available.
The Acer K10 fits into the market as a travel projector, where it's fine for showing a presentation in an office or board room, throwing a picture of up to 1.5m (5ft) diagonal. It would also be suitable in a hotel room or the bed-sit of an affluent student, for watching movies. Its price and power put it in something of a niche market, but if Apple ever does release a netbook-style machine, that niche could become a useful hole.