When Dell launches a product into a particular sector you know that there has to be a strong business case for the build-and-ship specialist to take the trouble. Part of this will be determined by market demand — and home cinema as well as an abundance of business customers ensure that this is a live one — but it’s also about how easily the product can be accommodated into Dell’s ultra efficient ordering process.
So now when you buy a PC online, for example, you are also given the option of buying a projector as an accessory. A tad expensive to be an impulse purchase but you have to credit Dell for trying. And you also have to applaud it for delivering one of the most affordable projectors in its class without making any huge sacrifice in terms of features and performance.
An extra bonus is that buying cheap doesn’t mean buying ugly. It’s a neat silver package, weighing in at 2.1kg yet still packing enough optical punch to manage 2300 lumen, which means the all important picture brightness is well up to scratch. The 2300MP is a DLP (digital light processing) machine as opposed to an LCD projector. This is mostly good. DLP technology uses hundreds of thousands of ‘micro-
mirrors’ to modulate light from a lamp that is then dispatched through the lens to a screen. The end result is a warm and richly textured image, where the range of colours and contrast make for a pleasing viewing experience.
The downside is something known as the ‘rainbow effect’ that we’ve talked about before on these pages. Some people are more sensitive to this than others. It is a visible strip of the colour spectrum that appears in the corner of your eye from time to time, which can, if you’re particularly sensitive to it, prove quite distracting. Some models appear to suffer more than others and the Dell 2300MP is certainly not the worst we’ve seen.
LCD projectors, which work by passing light through transparent chips made up of individual pixels, avoid the rainbow problem but their colour rendition tends to be more garish, the contrasts less subtle and a fine-meshed texture, caused by the pixel technology, is sometimes too apparent on the screen. These are all subjective considerations if you’re shopping for a projector. But once you have accepted the limitations of the technology, the 2300MP should quickly assume a place on your shopping list.
Whatever about picture quality, the key selling point for the new generation of projectors is that they are simple to set up and use. The central control panel on top of the 2300MP chassis adopts the increasingly familiar array of four tabs around a main button. Connections range from VGA through USB to composite video and s-video for home entertainment sources. An automated search will identify what you have plugged in then it’s up to you to dig deeper into the on-screen menus to tweak your requirements, be it aspect ratio, brightness or colour. A nice touch is that it has been optimised for use with Dell notebooks with software that automatically adjusts to the native resolution of the display. There’s a remote for those more serious business presentations and a padded carry case for taking on the road.
Keystone correction lets you avoid image distortion that happens when the projector isn’t perfectly positioned in front of the screen. As well as the onscreen tools there is an adjustable front foot for raising the height by up to 3cm and a rear leg that can also help with difficult angles. One way or another you should be able to get a good large image in a relatively confined space without damaging the picture quality.
The fan, crucial for keeping the bulb from overheating, is not excessively loud but it might bug you if your only audio source is the onboard speaker.
No question, the Dell projector represents excellent value for money delivering the kind of performance we’ve seen on much more expensive models and it’s just about light enough to muscle into the portable end of the market. A Jack of all that turns out to be a master of many.
By Ian Campbell