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Lifewire / Hayley Prokos
Built-in 5-hour battery
Mobile USB display
Manual focus lens creates extra work
Limited speaker capability
Not a great value
The Acer C202i is a decent portable projector you can buy for under $400, for casual office presentations, camping trips, kids entertainment on-the-go, and more.
The Acer C202i is a mini-projector with some laudable qualities but also a handful of issues. Color accuracy, brightness, contrast, and resolution are about on par with modern budget TVs but fall short of some of the better mini projectors we tested. Stil, setup is easy and the price is so low that we can imagine justifying this purchase under specific circumstances.
From photos, we were impressed with the minimalistic design of the Acer C202i, but upon taking it out of its packaging and seeing it up close, we realized that the simple design reflected its limited capabilities. Measuring 4.5 x 4.5 x 1.25 inches, this is certainly on the smaller side of projectors we’ve tested, which could be appealing.
For what it offers, the price is a little steep.
The Acer C202i comes with a bundle of accessories — an AC to DC power adapter, a protective case, a quick start guide, a remote control, a tripod, and a dust bag — which is more than what some others offer. However, it’s fairly limited in connectivity, offering only four ports total (a DC 15V port for charging the device, a USB-A port, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack) and EZCast screen mirroring instead of simple Bluetooth connection. Unfortunately, the two required AAA batteries for the remote aren’t included, which seems like a bit of a trifling omission in a device that costs more than $350.
The Acer C202i is really easy to set up because it essentially functions on screen mirroring. Once your device is connected to the projector — either through its HDMI or USB port — and you’ve adjusted settings like the lens, you’re just about set to use the projector.
We connected an iPhone through the USB port, and you can also connect an Android phone or PC through the USB port with an application called EZCast. The app can also aid in wireless screen mirroring for Android and iOS devices, but the whole thing feels byzantine and dated.
Based on the features that it offers, we can imagine using this projector for casual business presentations, for children’s entertainment or for a small outdoor gathering, like a camping trip.
However, if you’re the clumsy type, or if there’s a chance the projector could take a beating, this might not be a good fit. The manufacturer specifically cautions against squeezing, shaking, or applying pressure to the projector. Just holding and using it we can see why—it feels really delicate, and when moved suddenly we felt something shaking around inside.
If you were hoping to get the kind of picture quality you see in a modern HDTV in a bigger format, the Acer will disappoint. It’s not an ultra high-res projector (max output is 480p, the lowest resolution that technically qualifies as HD). While it is bright, at 300 lumens, contrast is pretty underwhelming at a 5,000:1 ratio, so the colors appear less than vibrant. The low resolution also resulted in pixelation at times.
If you were hoping to get the kind of picture quality you see in a modern HDTV in a bigger format, the Acer will disappoint.
It’s also worth noting that the Acer C202i wouldn’t provide great quality in a lit room, or in daylight—good performance in a bright space requires something on the order of 2,000 lumens, well outside the Acer’s range.
Onboard audio isn’t the shining star on the Acer C202i, and you should plan to connect the projector to a separate audio output, particularly in large rooms or when sound is critical to the viewing experience. Even in a bedroom we found the sound to be muffled and low-impact.
At $376, the Acer C202i is on the lower end of the price spectrum for mini projectors, but for what it offers, the price is a little steep. There are a number of drawbacks that would make us think twice about recommending this product. We’d encourage buyers to consider both the lower image resolution and lackluster audio which really negatively impact usability and enjoyment.
If you’re seeking an inexpensive option for more casual multimedia scenarios, you may be satisfied with the Acer C202i, but if you want to play high-quality content, we’d say you’re better off saving up for a better portable projector.
This model has a lot less connectivity than the Nebula II, but the Acer is cheaper, simple, and gets the job done.
In terms of image quality, sound quality, and durability, however, we have to say the Nebula Capsule II is a clear winner. The Acer, on the other hand, is brighter and boasts a longer battery life.
The Anker Nebula Capsule II costs significantly more, retailing at $579, but comes with a slew of bells and whistles, stuff like built-in Chromecast, an autofocus lens, an Android TV system, and Google Assistant technology. If you can afford the significant increase in price, the Capsule II is worth the investment.
An inexpensive projector—for a reason.
The Acer C202i might be worth the price to a specific buyer. It won’t beat out many name-brand solutions on sound or image quality, but its low price point may be attractive to budget shoppers who don’t prioritize HD image quality and sound in this tiny device. For the majority of people, however, even the lower price point isn’t justified.
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