Acer C120 Pico projector

Posted by Jon Peddie on May 2nd 2012 | Discuss
Categories: Hardware Review,
Tags: acer technology computers projector travel

Projecting power like an aircraft carrier

{image_1}We got an Acer C120 Pico projector to play with (and we took it on a road trip to Finland and the UK). The units can display up to 1280 x 800 resolution, has a 1000:1 contrast ratio, and offers 100 Lumens brightness when plugged in. It can be powered by USB 3.0 and there is a battery. The convenient USB 3.0 option allows for faster display of the images at 75 ANSI lumens. Alternatively, when higher brightness matters you can power the projector with the AC adapter and get an even brighter 100 ANSI lumens. The new projector is plug and play compatible with notebook PCs, so no drivers need to be installed.

The Acer C120 is touted as a mobile projector aimed squarely at the business sector. Since this palm-sized pico-projector is only 1'' x 4.7'' x 3.2'' in size and only weighs only 6.34 oz., this is as road warrior-friendly as it gets. Except for USB 3.0, the new C120 isn’t really all that different from the C110 which has been shipping since mid-2011. Both LED projectors have a lamp life of 20,000 hours and their resolutions are rather limited, at 854x480 (native) 16:9 but they can up-convert to 1280x800 (interpolated) in a 16:10 aspect ratio. The C120 has a projection range from 15-inches to 12 ft. Incidentally, Acer has an optional patented 25-inch foldable screen that purportedly enhances brightness by 200%. That’s something to check out in case you want the $230 Acer C120 to throw up a brighter image.

It comes at a price of $259.99 and is available from the Acer Store with one year warranty.


We tested the C120 on a laptop on which we had previously installed a DisplayLink driver (see following story). Although the Acer C120 has a video codec/decompressor it doesn’t use Display­Link’s. When the external monitor was plugged in, it was not possible to get the C120 to scale up to a higher resolution. Disconnecting the external DisplayLink Targus module solved the problem and the C120 scaled to 1280 x 800. Don’t expect Acer or DisplayLink to do anything about this; what’s the probability those two would ever be in the same system except in some wacko lab like ours?

What do we think?

The C120 is a nifty, pocket size projector that is surprisingly bright, and relatively easily to install. Windows 7 goes nuts sometime and makes a big deal about degrading to basic color, which causes the C120 to disconnect and reconnect a few times (with the associative Windows bing-bong sounds). If it doesn’t stabilize, then a reboot is needed to sweep out the miscellaneous bits scattered through the system.

The projector only works in clone mode. That’s unfortunate because it would be an ideal way to have a second screen and more desktop. The focus control (on the side) is a bit touchy and sometimes hard to find the sweet spot, but it can be done.

Overall it’s a very positive experience, and a must have for a road-warrior or someone who wants to watch movies without being hunched over a laptop.

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