Acer K330 WXGA DLP Projector
Projector Central Highly Recommended Award

Highly Recommended Award

Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.

  • Performance
  • 4.5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$599 MSRP Discontinued

One of several similar new generation LED projectors, all of which boast a 500 lumen rating, a claimed 1280x800 resolution, and a sub 3-pound weight, the Acer K330 offers its own unique balance of price, image quality, and features. Along with the other choices in what's suddenly a new category of bright, light-weight projectors, it serves as the next step up from pocket projectors, with a little heavier weight and a lot more lumens.

The K330 weighs 2.9 pounds, which makes it small and light enough to carry around without a second thought. It's also bright enough to throw a larger image for comfortable viewing than any pocket projector can manage in any given level of ambient light.

Also adding to portability is the ability to read files directly from SDcards, USB memory keys, and the projector's own internal 2GB memory, a trick that lets you leave heavy image sources at home. And it's worth mention too that it uses a simple power cord to plug into a wall socket, so there's no power block to carry around, with its additional size and weight. All this adds up to a balance of portability and capability that's more than impressive for a street price of just $599.

Key Features

Good data image quality. In our tests, the K330 delivered vibrant, fully saturated color and good color balance, with suitably neutral grays at all levels in most preset modes. The only exception was for the brightest mode, with the brightest levels of gray showing a slight yellowish tinge. However, most projectors have color quality issues in their brightest modes, so that's par for the course.

What hurts the image quality just a bit is a problem we've seen with at least one other projector in this category as well. On 1280x800 images with large areas filled with repeating patterns of lines or dots, the K330 adds unwanted extra patterns that look like scaling artifacts. By definition, these shouldn't be there.

Native resolution for a DLP chip is the resolution that gives a 1-to-1 correspondence between the number of pixels in the image and the number of pixels that the display can physically produce. What creates scaling artifacts is the lack of a 1-to-1 correspondence, so the projector has to add or drop pixels in the image.

These artifacts came as a surprise to our contact at Acer, who was unable to either confirm a different resolution for the chip or give another explanation for them. We also tried contacting Texas Instruments for insight into the issue. As of this writing, TI has also been unable to explain it in any detail, and insists that the chip doesn't scale the image. However, it also says the issue is likely at least partly due to the chip's architecture.

The good news is that you won't run into this problem very often unless you use patterned fills in your graphic images rather than solid blocks of color. On the other hand, you may run into a soft focus effect that's almost certainly due to applying anti-aliasing to counter the apparent scaling artifacts, whether they are actually being caused by scaling or not.

This shouldn't be a serious problem for most real world images either. The soft focus only becomes an issue for highly detailed line drawings and small text sizes. In my tests, with a 92" diagonal 16:10 image, I had no problems reading text larger than 9 points. At 9 points, however, the text was visibly blurry, and still smaller fonts were hard to read from any distance.

Usable video quality. Although the K330 is most obviously appropriate as a business projector, Acer also suggests it as a home entertainment projector for casual use. Somewhat surprisingly, it can serve in that role reasonably well.

The projector's video quality is far from what you'd expect from a home theater projector, but it's good enough to watch a movie with. I didn't see any motion artifacts, posterization (colors changing suddenly where they should change gradually) or other serious issues. I saw some moderate to major loss of shadow detail, but primarily in scenes that tend to bring out the problem.

The home entertainment aspect is not a compelling argument to buy the projector. But if you've bought it for business, you might find the K330 useful for watching an occasional movie at home, as long as you're not too demanding about image quality.

Few rainbow artifacts. One of the more pleasant surprises with the K330, and one of the issues that helps its video quality, is that it shows hardly any rainbow artifacts. I'm sensitive to seeing the rainbows, and saw fewer with the K330 than with any other single-chip DLP projector I've ever used.

With data images, I saw them only on a test image that's designed to make them easy to see, and even on that screen I saw only a hint of the artifacts. With video, they were a bit more obvious, but decidedly occasional and fleeting. Most people probably won't see any rainbows at all, and even those who are sensitive to seeing them are unlikely to find them bothersome.

Highly portable. The K330 weighs 2.9 pounds and measures 1.8" by 8.6" by 6.6" (HWD), making it roughly equivalent to a book in size and weight. To make it even easier to carry, Acer includes a soft carrying case complete with a pouch to hold the power cord, credit card size remote, cables, and any other items, like USB memory keys, you need to carry. Even with the case, the projector is small enough to fit in a briefcase.

Quick and easy setup. Setting up the K330 is almost trivial. To show images stored in internal memory, simply take the projector out of the case, point it at a screen, plug in the power cord, turn it on, and focus. To show images from an SDcard, USB memory key, computer, or video source, the only additional step is to plug in the card, key, or cable.

Low running costs. The red, green, and blue LEDs in the K330 offer a 20,000 hour rating, which means they're meant to last the life of the projector. This potentially translates into far lower running costs compared to lamp-based projectors, with typical lamp lifetimes of 2000 to 3000 hours.

Usable audio. The audio systems in small projectors are often not worth having, so to call the K330's audio usable is high praise. The sound quality for the 2-watt speaker was a little tinny, but it was also loud enough to fill a small conference room and high enough quality for words to be easily understandable for watching a movie.

Test Results and Connectivity

Brightness. I measured the K330's brightness at 440 lumens in its Bright mode, or 88% of its rating. Other presets ranged from 287 to 334 lumens, with Eco mode dropping brightness by about 11%, to 393 lumens for the Bright mode. For our tests, I found the K330's image bright enough for comfortable viewing in theater dark lighting for a 92" diagonal image at the 16:10 native aspect ratio. Even with moderate light, the image is usable at that size, although it's a little washed out.

Good brightness uniformity. The K330 did an excellent job in our tests of maintaining uniform brightness across the screen, with a measured uniformity of 88%. That's just enough difference to see on a solid white screen if you look for it, but not enough to see otherwise.

Connectivity. The back panel on the K330 offers more connection options than you might expect in such a small projector, starting with a VGA port for a computer or component video source, an HDMI port for a computer or video source, and a composite video port. In addition, there are two miniplug jacks -- one for AV input and one for audio out -- plus an SDcard slot for a memory card, a USB Type A port for a USB key, and a mini USB port for connecting to a computer to transfer files to and manage files in the 2GB internal memory.

Also worth mention is that Acer says the K330 can read more than 20 file formats. I confirmed just a few in my tests, including PowerPoint, PDF, and JPG files. Other choices, according to Acer, include Word and Excel files and most common image, video, and audio formats.

Limitations

No zoom. As with most, if not all, projectors this size or smaller, the only way to adjust image size with the K330 is to move the projector. Given the small size, however, this isn't much of a problem. Also, once you've used the projector a few times you should have a good sense of how far to put it from the screen to get the image size you want. I got a 92" diagonal image at just over 9 feet from the screen.

3D works with computer output only. Acer says that the K330 supports 3D, but only with a computer. This isn't simply an issue of not supporting HDMI 1.4a. When I connected the projector to a 3D Blu-ray player by way of a video converter that lets most 3D projectors with HDMI 1.3 show 3D video, the 3D still didn't work. Acer confirmed that this was the expected result. However, the company was not able to give me any specific information about what resolution or other requirements the projector has for 3D signals,

Conclusion

Like all the projectors in this newly emerging category, the K330 fits neatly into the niche between slightly lighter, but significantly dimmer, pocket projectors below and brighter, but heavier, lamp-based projectors above. Small and light enough so it's nearly as easy to bring along as a pocket projector, it can throw a much larger useable image any given level of ambient light, and it's easier to set up thanks to its use of standard connectors rather than proprietary connectors and adaptors. And as with pocket projectors, its LED-based light source contributes to a low total cost of ownership compared to lamp-based projectors.

High on the list of features that distinguish the K330 from other projectors in its category is its image quality for data and video combined with excellent brightness uniformity and remarkably few rainbow artifacts. It's also, for the moment at least, less expensive than its competition, which makes it a good value. Taken together, all of these features help make it one of the best choices in its size, weight, and brightness class.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Acer K330 projector page.

Comments (10) Post a Comment
zino Posted Feb 19, 2012 1:04 PM PST
Hi, Can anyone please tell me if a car charger for the acer k330 exist, if yes where can I find one. Thank you
Ty L Posted Feb 26, 2012 11:23 PM PST
Did you try it at other resolutions like 1280x768 to see if you could remove the scaling artifacts?
Bob Posted Mar 1, 2012 6:17 PM PST
Yes - it's called an inverter - but you have to get one powerful enough to match the current draw, and they get expensive.
Yang Posted Mar 20, 2012 1:56 PM PST
No "manual zoom", but it has "digital zoom". Does digital perform the same function as manual zoom?
Rishelle Posted Apr 16, 2012 8:17 AM PST
Hi, I am looking for a reliable, good quality led projector for my business. I have run into a couple good names including this one, the Acer K330 and quite a few others like the ASUS P1. I need something lightweight with good vision quality, would it be safe to say this is the right way to go? Thanks in advance for your help
Jonathan Posted May 1, 2012 6:17 PM PST
Whats the throw compared to the k11? I'm looking to do a direct swap out. Will the throw be similar you think?
Janmanni Posted May 29, 2012 8:07 AM PST
Hi. This is a nice review, but it really doesn't explain why the image quality is just ok for some "occasional" movie. It has the resolution, lumens and good uniformity and what not. So what is it that it doesn't have? I am of course not expecting movie theater quality.
rohaya Posted Jun 23, 2012 3:53 AM PST
i need a mini projector that can be used in classroom.can any one suggest.
Linda Posted Mar 5, 2013 11:59 AM PST
When I got my Acer K330 projector, I tried to show a Power Point presentation from a USB flash drive. This projector reformatted my slides! Text that should have been on one line was pushed into two, paragraphs would not longer fit on the slide, and it could not be fixed by adjusting the aspect ratio. Plus, it didn't even show my SmartArt graphics. The User Guide gave "troubleshooting" guidelines, which I followed, but that didn't resolve the problem either. Finally, I spoke with a guy with Acer Tech Support, who said I'd have to send the machine for repairs in Texas. This is fresh out of the box! Has anyone else had this problem, and is there an easy fix?
Robert Posted Mar 5, 2014 5:41 PM PST
What kind of success is anyone having using this projector with power point. I would like to download my powerpoint presentation onto the internal memory and use it from there.

Thx

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