Projectors are becoming a multi purpose tool. Many people use them for business presentations. Many people use them for home entertainment. Business users are going to be looking at size, weight and picture quality when deciding which projector to buy. The Dell 3400MP not only offers a great picture, but it all comes in a small package.
- Bright 1,500 ANSI Lumens (Max)
- Superior high contrast ratio of 2100:1 (Full on/Full off)
- DLP DDR technology from Texas Instruments
- Native XGA (1024 x 768), with autosync up to UXGA (1600 x 1200)
- Supports full range of television and video standards, including 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) Built-in 1 watt amplifier and speaker
- Built in advanced motion adaptive hardware de-interlacing
Every projector needs a way to get video into the device. The 3400MP actually provides 3 built-in and one optional way to input video. You can choose from a M1-DA terminal, S-video and composite video terminal. 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.
There is also an audio in and an audio out plug on the back of the 3400MP. This allows you to use the internal speaker. The speaker is small and it only has a 1 watt output. This means that you are not going to get very good performance out of it. In fact I would expect most people to just use the speakers in their laptops instead.
The 3400MP has a manual focus and zoom, which gives you more flexibility when you are placing the projector. You can make the picture up to 1.15 times larger. Focusing is done by turning the lens and zooming is done by moving the lever on top of the lens. Incorporating an automatic focus would have been a nice time saver.
When you are on the go the last thing you want to do is lug around a 10 lb projector. The 3400MP only weighs 2.40 lbs and is super small. You will hardly notice the extra weight in your luggage or in your briefcase.
The 3400MP even comes with its own carrying case. This would make it really easy to take it as a carry on or stash it in your luggage. The case is made out of nice firm foam that is fitted to the exact size of this projector. This means you don’t have to worry about it sliding around and getting broken. The case also has spaces for the remote and additional cables that you might bring. The only bad thing I can say about the case is that the outside is made of the same foam like material that the inside has. This means that if you lean the case against a corner or you set it on something it will leave an indention.
The 3400MP is not designed for ceiling mounting. If you want to mount it you will have to buy a 3rd party kit and doing this may void your warranty. This projector was designed for presentations and sitting on a table or desk. To help you position it correctly there are three feet that can be raised and lowered to level the projector on your screen. In the front there is one foot that is raised and lowered by pressing the button in front of it. This foot is spring loaded so it will pop down. In the back there are two feet, but they twist in and out so you can make fine adjustments.
The remote is designed very well. It has buttons to perform just about any function that you could do with the buttons on the device itself. You can open the menus and change any value. When you are hooked up to a computer with USB you can even control the mouse curser. This means that while you are giving your presentation you don’t have to go back to your computer to switch slides or start a program. This can only be used when you have Dells M1-DA to D-sub/USB cable plugged into the projector and computer. There are IR ports on the front and back of the projector, so you can be in front or behind the projector when you are controlling it. There is a built-in laser pointer located on the remote.
The menus are very well laid out. I had no trouble finding the different settings and quickly setting the different options to meet my needs. There are tons of settings and more than you will probably need but be sure to go through them all and make sure they are correct for your situation. The menus will also enable and disable themselves based on what kind of video connection. This is nice because you don’t always have to search through tons of menus to find the options that are currently valid. I have included some pictures of the menus below which demonstrate some of the different things you can change.
Some of the more notable menu options include: reversing the image for rear projection, brightness, contrast, aspect ratio and video mode. Video mode will adjust the settings of the 3400MP based on which kind of image you are projecting. If you are hooked up via S-Video it automatically selects Movie mode. These are also user selectable, so you can change them any time you want.
It is inevitable that you will have to replace the lamp. Even though each lamp is suppose to last about 4000 hours in eco-mode. If you watch 4 hours of movies a day that is only 2.5 years. To make this process easier Dell provided a lamp door on the bottom. It is really easy to unscrew and open. Once you have it open you then need to unscrew the actual lamp enclosure. There is a small metal handle on the enclosure that helps you to remove it. The whole process is easy and can be done in about 5 minutes. The only down-side is that replacement lamps cost about $349. Replace the lamp a couple times and you have paid for the projector all over again.
When you talk about the performance of a projector you talk about the ability of the projector to display a picture with accurate colors and contrast. For the size and price, this projector actually performs very well.
While I am keenly aware that you cannot judge a projector by lumens alone, having 1,500 lumens sure makes the 3400MP nice. Add to that a big contrast ration of 2100:1 and you are going to get a fairly good separation of colors and black and white. DLP projectors are very different from LCD projectors in the way they handle the light. With an LCD projector you don’t want to exceed about 1000 lumens otherwise the picture gets washed out. With DLP projectors you can go much higher.
Sound levels from the fan are not usually a problem. The normal ambient noise from an office or the noise from a home stereo should easily drown out the noise produced by the cooling fan. If you want to reduce the fan noise, then you can always switch to eco-mode. This not only slows down the fan, but also extends the life of the bulb . With eco-mode turned on you will notice a slight decrease in the brightness of the video. You will also want to watch out for the heat that the 3400MP puts out. If you happen to be sitting right next to it you may find yourself getting uncomfortable. Make sure you give the projector plenty of breathing room so it can circulate the air.
The sound that comes from the single speaker is obviously weak. It was designed to play simple sounds that you might find in a presentation or something. For movies you will certainly want a separate speaker system.
The only notable downside of the 3400MP is the perceptible rainbow effect that plagues edges of objects. You really only notice this when you move your eyes back and forth really fast or you look away from the picture and back again. If you are going to use this as a home theater projector, then I recommend that you make the picture small enough and sit back far enough so that you can see the whole picture in one shot and you don’t have to move your eyes back and forth. This is something that affects all DLP projectors so keep this in mind when you are choosing between DLP and LCD. Also, some people I had look at this projector could not see the Rainbow effect, so you will want to demo one at a store before you make your final decision.
For those who are interested, here are a couple of images that show the difference in picture between the 5100MP and 3400MP.
I can easily recommend the 3400MP for any sort of business application. The lightweight and small design make this perfect for anyone that travels and needs to take a projector with them. This will also be good as a budget home theater projector. By messing with the brightness and contract I was able to get a good picture. The low price tag of $1299 sure helps to make the projector more appealing. Especially since Dells next best projector costs $3499.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|