Review: Dell 3400MP Projector
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Reviewed by Ryan McLaughlin on 10/08/2005
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  • Peter

    Hello,

    I am looking to get a home cinema projector and I was going to get the Dell 3400Mp projector, however now that I have read your reviews I was thinking of the HP vp6320 XGA. Is there much difference between the two? I can probably get the dell one through a friend for 20% off would this make it the more attractive package?

    Are there any other projectors that you would recommend?

    Cheers,

    Peter

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  • Thanks for reading the reviews.

    This is a difficult question. Both performed very well in our tests. Unfortunately, we didn’t have them at the same time, so we were unable to test them side by side.

    On the surface it may seem like the HP vp6320 XGA Projector is better because it has better brightness and contrast, but that does not tell the whole story. The difference between the two projectors is actually very minor. The extra brightness of the HP vp6320 is nice if you are going to be showing it in a lighter and bigger room but if you have a room where you can seal off all the light then the extra brightness does not matter. In fact, the extra brightness may make it too bright if your room is small. The contrast ratio differences between the two projectors are probably not enough that you would notice unless you had them side by side and you have a very discerning eye. The Dell 3400MP Projector has better resolution, so if you are going to use this with a computer that may be better for you.

    Also the Dell 3400MP comes with a nice protective carrying case. If you see yourself on the road a lot this is a huge plus. The HP vp6320 has a handle built into the projector.

    So how do you tell? Well if it were me, I would probably put more weight on price and service. Unfortunately, I have had nothing but bad experiences with HP support and some good and some bad experiences with Dell support. So it comes down to price, right? Wrong they are both about the same in price also. While the HP vp6320 is about $200 more the bulbs are about $50 cheaper. So it would only take about 4 bulb replacements with the Dell 3400MP and you would have used up the price advantage that you got initially.

    Now, you mentioned that you could get the Dell 3400MP cheaper through your friend. If you can get it cheap enough to justify the higher priced bulbs, then I say go for it. In fact I would probably by the Dell 3400MP myself even without the discount because by the time you went through 4 bulb replacements the projector will be between 6 and 8 years old and may need replacement anyways.

    On a side note, I have had many video professionals tell me that the projector, relatively speaking, is probably less important then the screen. A good screen has the ability to make a bad projector look good and a cheap screen can make a good projector look bad. So take the $200 that you save with the Dell projector, add an additional $200 and buy yourself a really nice screen.

    Good luck with your decision, I hope my ramblings helped. Please let us know how it turns out. We would be very interested in which one you choose and why.

    Ryan

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  • Peter

    For the Dell review you mention rainbow effects being noticable especially for the 3400, would you not consider this to be an issue when comparing the two? Do you have any recomendations for good screens?

    Peter

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  • If you can see the Rainbow effect with one DLP projector, then you can see it with all DLP projectors. This is because, without going into too much detail, of the way that DLP projects the image. DLP uses a color wheel that spins really fast. Because the colors are separated on the color wheel your eyes can sometimes see the separate colors on the screen. Some people cannot see it. I guess I have sensitive eyes. Go down to a store the sells projectors and have them demonstrate a DLP projector and see if you can see it. I notice it most when I am looking at a dark scene and my eyes are moving back and forth across the screen really fast or if my eyes move away from the movie and then back again really fast, it also helps if the room is dark. If you can see the rainbow effect and you don’t like it then your only option is to buy an LCD projector. Some newer DLP projectors coming out his year have technology that is supposed to reduce the rainbow effect, but these are usually very expensive. One thing I noticed that helped reduce the effect was to make the screen small enough, or sit back far enough, so that I could see the whole screen with out moving my eyes around. Because I didn’t have to move my eyes a lot I didn’t see the rainbow effect as much.

    I don’t know much about screens, but I bet you can go down to your nearest home theater store and they can tell you what makes a good screen.

    Again good luck with you decision.

    Ryan

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  • Peter

    One last question. the more I look into projectors the more complex they seem to become. I was reading somewhere that people were trying to match the resolution of the projector to the DVD player and things like that. is it not just the case that you buy the projector and plug in a DVD player and once you have the correct zoom for the projector you can start watching movies? Also i was presuming that the home cinema speakers and DVD player that i have would be compatable with the Dell projector, am I correct with this presumption? Thanks, Peter

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  • I definitely agree with you, the water can get muddy really fast. I think the people that you reading about are high end shoppers that have thousands of dollars to spend on making sure that everything is matched up perfectly. The rest of us have to settle for less, but that does not mean it is bad.

    The projector is just like a TV, it will show you the image that is being sent to it. As long as the projector has the ability to connect to your DVD player then it will show what the DVD player sends. Keep in mind that you are not buying a Home Theater projector. These two projectors are budget models and are geared toward business use rather than home use. That does not mean that they will not work, it just means they are not the best for the situation. If you want to spend more money I can suggest a couple $3000 – $5000 projectors that will display a better picture.

    This projector is compatible with the following video formats: NTSC, NTSC 4.43, PAL (B/D/G/H/I/M/N), SECAM (B/D/G/K/K1/L) and HDTV (480i/P, 576i/P, 720P, 1080i). In addition it can take the following inputs: Component, S-Video and M1-DA for component HDTV. I highly recommend that you do not use Component. S-video is what I would say most people use for DVD, and it is fairly standard on all DVD players. M1-DA is for connecting a computer and for HDTV. I would have liked to have seen a set of component inputs, but like I said, this is not a high end projector.

    Speakers are completely separate from the projector. The projector only needs to be compatible with the DVD player.

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  • Peter

    One last question I was talking to a friend and they were suggesting that I get a projector specifically made for home video and that the dell would not be advisable due to the fact that it would not have a proper “video processor” and that there was probably not a “6 section colour wheel”. She said that without these the picture would be jumpy and there would be noise in the background. Have you ever heard of this stuff and does it make a difference for home cinema? Thanks Peter

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  • It sounds like your friend probably knows more about projectors than I do. I have not heard of those things but that does not mean they don’t matter. Keep in mind that this is not a “home theater” projector, but you are also not pay a “home theater” projector price. I am sure these things make a difference in the picture quality, but projectors that come with powerful processors and big color wheels are going to cost you a lot more money. If you do find a projector with these things, and it does not cost much, then be wary because that means they skimped on something else. The old saying “you get what you pay for” is especially true with technology.

    Now, as to the performance of this projector. I can honestly say that when I had the projector I watched movies on it and I did not notice a jumpy or grainy picture. It has been a while, but I think if the picture had been really bad I would have mentioned it in the review.

    I believe that Dell has a 30 day return policy on all its products. You may want to buy it and then send it back if you don’t like it. You will probably have to pay shipping, but that is a small price to pay for peace of mind and no buyers remorse.

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  • pt

    You mention that “an optional component-video adapter allows High-Definition signals of up to 1080i resolution to be fed into the 3400MP. If you are going to use this as a home theater projector, then I highly recommend the extra quality.”

    What is this and where can I get one?

    Thanks,
    PT

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  • Thank you for your question.

    The adapter you are looking for is the M1-DA-to-RCA Extension Cable for the Dell 3400MP. You can find it on the Dell website right here: http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19&sku=310-4734

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  • on1bhm

    Hi Just purchased a 3400 MP from dell.

    I can see the rainbow effect very clearly.
    i’m using composite video at the moment to use the projector mainly as a video projector.

    i really get a headache sometimes from watching.
    i’m considering to adjust my living room in order to be able to sit farther away from the screen as this minimizes the problem.

    What else can i do to minimize the problem of the rainbow effect??
    it is especially clearly visible in white area’s of the screen….

    thanks

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  • I agree that the rainbow effect is really annoying. During my review I did not find much about the environment or projector that I could adjust in order to reduce the rainbow effect. Moving your eyes while watching the video is how you see the rainbow effect. So you need to reduce your eye movement, which is impossible to eliminate completely. The main thing, like you said, is to sit further away from the screen. The reason you do this is so you can see the entire picture in one shot and you don’t have to move your eyes around the screen. You could also move the projector closer to the screen to reduce the size of the picture. Moving the projector closer is often easier then rearranging your room.

    Please let us know how it goes.

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  • Nancy

    If we are playing a cd with pictures and music for a slideshow, does this projector have the capability to plug into a sound system or do we plug the computer into the sound system to play over the speakers?? Does this unit have the capability to plug into a Mac???

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  • Ferdie

    Hi
    I just bought a dell 3400mp but it hasn’t arrived yet, my question is do I need is there a way to connect a USB flashdrive to the unit without using my computer?

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    • No, the projector does not have any memory card slots.

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