Acer K137 review

The Acer K137 has surprisingly loud audio for a projector that's not much larger than palmtop size.
Photo of Acer K137

The Acer K137 ($599), a 700-lumen mini projector, is wider than the palmtop-sized LED projectors that have become commonplace, but it makes good use of its extra girth. The extra space helps house stereo speakers that make this projector surprisingly loud for its small size. The K137 has a good feature set for its size, but, unfortunately, text quality is not one of its strengths.

The projector measures 1.6 by 7.4 by 4.6 inches (HWD). It’s the same height and depth as the Acer K132, but it’s wider, as it adds semicircular speaker grilles to two sides. It’s very light, even for a mini projector. I weighed it at 1.1 pounds, with the power adapter adding an extra pound. The K137 comes with a soft carrying case, which fits just the projector, so you’ll have to carry the adapter separately.

The DLP-based projector has native WXGA (1,280-by-800) resolution, a rated brightness of 700 ANSI lumens, and a 10,000:1 rated contrast ratio. Its LED light source is rated at 20,000 hours in Normal mode and 30,000 hours in Eco mode, so the bulb should easily last the lifetime of the device.

A four-way controller with center button can be found on the top of the K137, and it lets you access the menu system. A tiny remote control comes with the projector. Behind the lens is a focus lever. On the bottom of the projector is a threaded hole that allows you to screw the projector into a tripod. The K137 is 3D-capable, but you’ll need DLP-link, active-shutter 3D glasses.

Connectivity
The K137 has a universal I/O port for connecting to a computer via VGA using an adapter cable; a USB type B port for connecting to a computer, and an HDMI port, which also supports MHL. It comes with two HDMI cables, one of them HDMI to mini-USB for MHL support. It has a USB type A port that fits a USB thumb drive or an optional Wi-Fi adapter, and a micro-SD card slot, either of which will allow you to run presentations computer free. It also has an audio-in jack.

Data Testing
When I placed the projector about six feet from our test screen, it filled the screen with an image that measured approximately 60 inches (diagonal). Image quality was adversely affected by the introduction of a modest amount of ambient light, so this projector is best used in a dark room.

In my testing using the DisplayMate suite, data image quality was below par for a mini projector due to poor text quality. Colors were generally well saturated. Some white backgrounds showed modest green tinting, and there was mild yellow fringing at the borders between some dark and light areas (such as at the edge of the image).

The K137 shares one issue with many recent LED-based WXGA projectors we’ve reviewed that use a TI DLP chip: the appearance of spurious, often dark lines in images with patterned fills. These resemble scaling artifacts, which normally appear when there’s a mismatch between the image source’s resolution and a projector’s native resolution, although with these LED projectors, both resolutions are 1,280 by 800.

Such artifacts shouldn’t have any effect on most kinds of images used in presentations. The main exception, though, is text quality. Indeed, the K137′s text was unusually poor, as the type was blurred at the three smallest white-on-black font sizes and the two smallest black-on-white sizes.

All single-chip DLP projectors are potentially subject to the rainbow effect, in which one may see little red/green/blue flashes in light areas against dark backgrounds, particularly in moving images or when one’s eyes move quickly. I noticed rainbow artifacts in the K137′s data images, but they shouldn’t be a distraction there, even to people sensitive to the effect.

Video and Audio
Video quality is fine for showing shorter clips as part of a presentation. As mentioned above, the K137 is best used in small rooms with little or no ambient light. Rainbow artifacts were prominent enough in video that they would be distracting to people sensitive to the effect.

The K137 offers something we’ve seldom seen in the recent crop of LED-based mini-projectors: a good audio system. Sound from the K137′s two 3-watt speakers is surprisingly loud and of decent quality, and should easily fill a small room. That isn’t the case with the 500-lumen Acer K132, whose single 2-watt speaker can barely be heard.

In many ways, the K137 is an improvement over the Acer K132. In addition to higher brightness and more powerful speakers, it adds several ports: USB type A (for a USB thumb drive or optional Wi-Fi adapter); a micro-SD card slot; and audio-in, as well as a Kensington lock slot. The one place the K137 falls short of the K132 is an important one: text quality. You’ll want to use large text, and not too much of it.

This mini projector is brighter than the Editors’ Choice 3M Mobile Projector MP410, which is rated at a mere 300 lumens. They have similar port selections, though the 3M MP410 adds a gigabyte of internal memory. The 3M MP410 showed the same sort of scaling artifacts as the K137, but they don’t affect its text quality, as black text on white was sharp down to the smallest size in our testing. Its video was relatively rainbow-free for a DLP projector.

The Acer K137 has a lot of strong points: good brightness for a small projector, a solid range of connection choices, usable video, and loud audio. Data-image quality, particularly text quality, is the one thing that prevents me from wholeheartedly recommending it. But if text is not important, then the featherweight K137 with its good feature set and louder than typical audio is worth a look.

Specifications
Native Resolution 1280 x 800
Wireless Connectivity No
Computer Interfaces Analog VGA
Weight 1.2 lb
Rated Contrast Ratio 10000
Engine Type DLP
Video Interfaces HDMI, USB, SD Card
Type Business
Aspect Ratio 16
Rated Brightness 700 ANSI lumens

Verdict
The Acer K137 has surprisingly loud audio for a projector that's not much larger than palmtop size.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc