This Acer C250i review is a great starting point for anyone looking for a reasonably priced portable projector. This one is versatile with plenty of connectivity options and Full HD image quality, if you’re on a budget then it’s one of the best projectors you can buy.
Acer has a great track record in creating products that work well but that won’t cost you the earth. They offer a few different LED projectors that do exactly that, and the Acer C250i sits in the middle of their range. It’s got better resolution than its cheaper sibling the C202i, but in comparison to the pricier B250i, it saves on cost by decreasing the brightness and speaker power, it doesn’t have quite as many advanced features either.
I’ve been using the Acer C250i portable projector for a few months and here you can find out how I got on with it, as well as what I thought about its design, setup and performance.
Acer C250i review: price and availability
You can buy the Acer C250i portable projector starting from $505 in the US, £400 in the UK, and AU$840 in Australia. The widgets on this page will show you where you can buy it in your region.
Acer C250i review: design and setup
Small and portable the Acer C250i is easy to use in different spots, whether that's outside or inside, you will need to be wary of sudden bursts of bad weather if you do use it in your garden because it's not waterproof.
About 775g in weight, it’s not a pain to carry around in a backpack but admittedly, at 9.8 x 9.8 x 16.8 cm, it is a little bit bigger than some other options on the market. Even so, it should fit just about anywhere.
The twisted tubular design is unique, although it does have more limitations than a regular stand when it comes to the projection's height on the wall. But in saying that you can hook it up to a tripod which could help you to adjust the height, and you can also use it both vertically and horizontally, depending on where you need to place it and how you want to use it.
There are loads of different ports to hook up your devices including a MicroSD card slot, an HDMI port, a USB Type-A, a USB Type-C and an Audio port. There are a few other ways to display content as well, it has wireless projection using Wi-Fi on the EZCast app and Bluetooth 5.2 although there’s no built-in Android like you can get elsewhere so it doesn't come with any apps built-in.
On the top end of the projector, you’ll find its controls. There’s a power button with navigation controls above and below it, with a ‘wireless kit’ port beside it that holds the included dongle. Next to the lens is a small dial to help you focus the projection if you aren't convinced by its automatic focusing.
You can also switch it on, navigate through the system and adjust the volume using the remote control. The remote is small, slim and simple but does everything you need it to. It's an IR remote (as opposed to Bluetooth) so you do need to point it at the projector for it to work.
In the box, as well as the remote, the Acer C250i comes with the power adaptor, a Quick Start Guide and a protective pouch.
Powered by a 9,000mAh battery, you get about 5 hours of use from it at a time but if you were to forget to charge it then I found that there’s plenty of length on the power cable to plug it in while you use it. You can actually use it as a power bank to charge your mobile phone as well so you can project from it and charge at the same time.
Setting up the projector is very easy when you use a wired connection, you just need to hook it up to power and to one of your devices before switching it on using the included remote control. You then pick your language and input - that’s it!
Wireless projection takes a little more effort to set up. You’ll first need to plug in the wireless dongle and then go to the settings page to connect the projector to your home Wi-Fi network. It took me a bit of time to do because typing is very slow. Then, on your Android phone, you need to download the EZCast app and follow the on-screen instructions.
Another way to display content from your phone or tablet is using screen mirroring which will project a copy of your smartphone. It does a good job, and automatically switches the orientation to best suit the type of content you’re showing.
Once up and running you can cast everything from your saved photos to YouTube videos. It did sometimes take a few minutes to display the content, but it’s responsive and works almost instantaneously as you navigate around your system.
Thanks to all the different connectivity on the device, you will be able to use this with your laptop, smartphone, tablet or even a streaming device like the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.
Whichever orientation you place it, the projector sits stably on the table and there’s plenty of space between the edges of the device and the lens so even when I placed it horizontally the projection wasn’t easily obstructed.
Day to day, I enjoyed using the projector. It was great to be able to carry it around the house and garden using it in different spots for different purposes, but sometimes I did find it was quite noisy especially when I'd be using it for a couple of hours.
Acer C250i review: performance
Projecting content in FHD resolution at 1920 x 1080p, the Acer C250i isn’t by any means the best portable projector in the world but it is good enough for the more casual user who isn’t fussed about having ultra-precise 4K.
The image was clear, sharp and packed full of colours. But it was the effective and speedy autofocus that most impressed me, the Acer C250i did a great job at adjusting the image to suit its backdrop. It was also able to project across quite a large surface given its small size. I quite happily used this to display all sorts of content whether that was holiday snaps or a Netflix series.
My only issue with the image quality was the brightness, at only 300 lumens, you do sometimes miss out on details in the frame especially when there is some light in the room. That’s particularly problematic playing darker video games and movies because it means you’ll miss out on a fair amount. If you’re a gamer I would suggest looking for a more dedicated gaming projector that can be used in more lighting conditions.
The sound quality from the projector could be improved as well, while it is louder than a lot of other small projectors, I still found it to be pretty quiet and even a little distorted on the highest levels. I was grateful for the Bluetooth and 3.5mm audio port though because it meant I could hook up an external speaker to it quickly and easily.
Acer C250i review: verdict
As far as portable projectors go, the Acer C250i is one of the better ones, and its price tag isn’t over-the-top either. It’s a good size, with plenty of ways to show your content and the battery life is good too.
Because the brightness is fairly limited, you will have to use it in the pitch black or as close to it as you can get and I would recommend hooking it up to a separate audio device as well if you plan to use it in a larger space. But those are the only significant downsides I can think of because actually, this portable FHD projector is a great buy.
Acer C250i review: also consider
If you’re not on a budget and you’re looking for the best in the business, you should take a look at the Optoma CinemaX P2. It’s a 4K short-throw projector that is intended for living rooms and it comes packed with a powerful sound system as well, it is very expensive though in comparison to the Acer C250i.
That is likely to be far too expensive for a lot of people though, and it’s not portable. The Viewsonic M2 Mobile Studio is a lot cheaper, it’s a portable FHD projector with style and you can connect to it through Wi-FI, HDMI v2.0, a MicroSD card, USB, 3.5mm audio output and it has Bluetooth to hook up your wireless headphones as well.