If you're pinching pennies, the compact, 1.2kg Acer P3250 is the lowest-priced lamp-based, ultraportable projector we've seen recently, and it has excellent image quality.

Its economic advantage includes the cost of its 3,000-hour replacement lamp, which is cheaper than the lamps the other, similar models use. However, since the Acer P3250's native resolution is 1024 by 768 (XGA), you'll need to use a laptop running at the same XGA resolution to obtain the best image sharpness and clarity for presentations.

The Acer P3250's most praiseworthy feature is the excellent quality of its images. Among the seven projectors we tested (four lamp-based and three LED-based), this model landed in second place for its overall performance, finishing close behind the top-ranked InFocus IN1102.

While it delivered crisp, legible fonts in all of its text-rendering tests, the Acer P3250 was strongest in displaying colourful images.

The Acer P3250 tied for first in graphics tests, delivering vivid colour with fine details in both the light and dark areas of our test pictures, and it came in second on our motion and video tests.

The Acer P3250 earned some of its best scores for its colour authenticity in displaying the varied hues of all four seasons in an outdoor-photo series. In DVD-movie playback, the P3250 did exceptionally well in capturing the bright reds, yellows, and blues in Speed Racer, as well as in accurately rendering the earthy browns, tans, and greens in Quantum of Solace.

One of the likely reasons the Acer P3250 projects superior colour is that its proprietary colourBoost display technology uses an additional colour (cyan) in its six-segment colour wheel, which can help render better results in some images when compared with the five-segment colour wheels (red, green, blue, white, yellow) that other traditional projectors use.

The Acer P3250's high brightness rating of 2000 lumensmakes it suitable for use in a large conference room with a fair amount of ambient light. In our tests the P3250 effectively displayed an 8.5-foot-diagonal image at 15 feet from the screen, in a room with moderate ambient daylight. However, like most of the othermodels equipped with a 1.0-watt mono speaker, in audio capability it proved too weak, providing insufficient sound to accompany presentations or videos.

The Acer P3250 is simple to set up, using its three tilt-adjustment feet and its smooth lens zoom and focus controls. Inputs include VGA, composite video, S-Video, audio, USB (for page up/down via remote control), and an HDMI (HDCP-compliant) port for displaying digital content from a computer, a TV tuner, or another video source that shares an HDMI connection.

The control panel on top of the projector is somewhat small and compact, butmost of the buttons are big enough to help prevent you from pushing the wrong one. The remote is larger and easier to use than the smaller card-size versions, and it includes a handy laser pointer, but it lacks a hot-button for instant access to its six preset picture modes ("Bright," "Standard," "Video," and others). The well-designed on-screen display is simple to navigate, and it offers an array of image adjustment controls.

One hitch, however, is that Acer's one-year limited warranty for thismodel (90 days for the lamp) is skimpy compared with the two- and three-year warranties that competing projector makers provide.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

PCWorld.com

Acer P3250: Specs

  • DLP Projector
  • mono speaker
  • 2000 ANSI lumens
  • Image Contrast Ratio: 2000:1
  • Image Size: 0.58m-7.62m
  • Projection Distance: 1m-11.9m
  • Throw Ratio: 1.95-2.15:1
  • 2x Digital Zoom Factor
  • XGA (1024x768) (native)/1680x1050 (resized)
  • Native Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Up to 134 million colours
  • Max Sync Rate: 85 Hzx100 kHz
  • P-VIP 165 Watt bulb, 3000 hour(s)/5000 hour(s) (economicmode)
  • manual focus/zoom
  • Vertical Keystone Correction: -40/+40
  • 210x165x64mm
  • 1.2kg
  • DLP Projector
  • mono speaker
  • 2000 ANSI lumens
  • Image Contrast Ratio: 2000:1
  • Image Size: 0.58m-7.62m
  • Projection Distance: 1m-11.9m
  • Throw Ratio: 1.95-2.15:1
  • 2x Digital Zoom Factor
  • XGA (1024x768) (native)/1680x1050 (resized)
  • Native Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Up to 134 million colours
  • Max Sync Rate: 85 Hzx100 kHz
  • P-VIP 165 Watt bulb, 3000 hour(s)/5000 hour(s) (economicmode)
  • manual focus/zoom
  • Vertical Keystone Correction: -40/+40
  • 210x165x64mm
  • 1.2kg

OUR VERDICT

All in all, the Acer P3250 is a good choice for people who want an affordable ultraportable projector that combines all the essential features with great image quality. Although it lacks the anamorphic advantages of a native, wide-aspect-ratio model it costs considerably less, and it delivers business presentations with plenty of visual punch.

Find the best price