The trouble with most midsized projectors is that to get a big image you have to be a good distance from the surface you're projecting onto.
While that might not be much of a problem for your average school or large meeting room, for most businesses and homes the space to run a regular projector is infeasible.
Projectors such as this 'ultra short-throw' model from Acer aim to change all that. Like BenQ's MP522 ST, the S1200 claims to project large images from very short distances – up to 82-inches in this case, from a distance of a mere metre.
That's an impressive claim, especially considering the BenQ could manage only a 57 inch display from the same distance, but in our tests the S1200 lived up to it, projecting a huge image of 81-inches. It was so big, in fact, we had to put the S1200 on the floor to stop the image from spreading across the ceiling. Another area where this Acer has the BenQ beat is that the image is projected further up the wall, with the display appearing some ten-inches above the projector. So you could put it on a low coffee table and still get a very big, watchable picture at eye level.
These optical gymnastics have major benefits for small meeting rooms and home projection, but there are consequences for image quality. That extreme fisheyestyle lens, for example, doesn't make for the crispest all-round focus. In our technical tests there were patches of distinct blurriness in each of the four corners.
In general use, however, your audience is more likely to notice the DLP engine's intense brightness of 2,500 ANSI lumens, which means the projector's 1024 x 768 resolution pictures are very bright, especially from such short distances, ideal if it is difficult to black out the room entirely. And the colours are as natural and balanced as we've come to expect from DLP projectors.
Elsewhere, the S1200 is perfectly respectable. You get HDMI and VGA inputs to go with the composite and SVideo, and although its noise output is audible, it isn't that loud it is intrusive or above anything you'd expect with a projector as bright as the S1200.
You might sniff at the price – £499 excluding VAT is a little costly for a 1024 x 768 projector – but it's around the same as the BenQ MP522 ST and a better all-round machine. If you want big images in cramped surroundings we've seen nothing to match it.