Dell 2400MP Projector Review - Image Quality
These are the issues we will touch on in this Projector image quality section:
Dell 2400MP Projector Brightness
I'm used to more than a decade of seeing projectors testing have having them typically produce only 70% to 90% of claimed brightness. Every once in a while, though a projector will actually exceed it's claim but that's very uncommon.
In the case of the Dell 2400MP, it is typical in this regard. It is rated 3000 lumens. When measured, in it's brightest mode - PC mode - the Dell 2400MP measured 2357 lumens, just under 80% of claim. Switching to other modes, we recorded:
Movie Mode: 1780 lumens
Game Mode: 1873 lumens
Note, we also measured the Movie mode with a video source, instead of a computer source, and found Movie Mode output an almost identical 1761 lumens. Some projectors do measure significantly lower when using a video source. Not so, this Dell!
I also remeasured the PC mode after switching the projector into it's low power lamp mode. The projector still measured an impressive 2002 lumens, which is approximately 15% lower than full power mode.
Interestingly all three modes measured, (there is also sRGB), had similar color temperatures - close to the ideal for movies/video where 6500K is the desired temperature. It is surprising that the PC mode was also close to 6500K (it measured 6657), and not closer to 8000K. This would indicate that if you wanted to fully adjust the color for the traditionally "cooler" (higher) temperature that most business projectors use, the Dell should actually measure slightly higher in lumens. The color temperature for the other two modes: Movie - 6675K, and Game - 6462K.
What we have here is an extremely bright projector considering it's medium small size, and 5.5 pound weight.
Dell 2400MP Color Accuracy
As soon as I hooked up the Dell 2400MP DLP projector, and fed it my two test images - the pie chart and the text/compression image, I was truly surprised. DLP projectors as a general rule, have done poorly in reproducing reds and yellows. Typically, bright reds come out dark red - almost wine colored, and bright yellows, a murky greenish yellow. As a result, LCD projectors, which normally have excellent reproduction of all colors have had a big advantage over DLP projectors, when color accuracy is required, or even just having a good bright yellow for text in Powerpoint type presentations.
The Dell 2400MP, however has surprisingly good color handling, including both reds and yellows, as you can see from our Pie Chart image. Although many LCD projectors may still be slightly better at these two colors, it's very unlikely that anyone will have a problem with this Dell projector's performance in this area. In the chart above, the red background is a full on bright red, while the front left, large slice is a bright yellow. In the case of the Dell, the red performance is excellent, and the yellow is very respectable.
Overall, this is about as good as it gets for portable DLP projectors, in terms of reproducing colors. As a result, color accuracy, is one of the 2400MP's strongest points, when compared to the competition out there.
Again, the Dell performed extremely well. The images were sharp from center to edge, with any softness being unnoticeable at normal viewing distances. No problem here at all! The image to the right is a close-up of small to medium sized text (8 to 24 point). The Dell 2400MP performed equally as well on 10 point type with white text on a black background, and did a good, though not exceptional job on handling yellow text on a medium blue background.
How well a projector handles higher resolution source material is somewhat less important today than a few years ago. This is primarily due to how current Windows operating systems handle the output to external devices like projectors. In days gone by, a laptop would typically output it's native resolution to the projector, even if it wasn't a match. This forced the projector to rescale the image to reproduce it with less pixels than many higher resolution laptops that have native resolutions of SXGA+ or UXGA. More likely today, your laptop will output the projector's XGA, and resize the display on your laptop, to lower resolution to match. About the only time this is a nusiance, is when you are viewing spreadsheets, and end up seeing less columns and rows because of the lower resolution of the projector.
That said, the Dell projector re-produced very good SXGA+ (1400x1050) source material, and also performed well on UXGA (1600x1200). On the SXGA+, small type (8-10 point) on spreadsheets is very readable, with only minor softness and unevenness. UXGA was more problematic, still readable, but pretty "ugly". Of course reading 8 point type on UXGA, requires that you are probably in "the first row", so presenters are not likely to use type that small, except that labels on charts in programs like Powerpoint may default to that small a point size.
Overall Dell's compression handling is very good.
Basic Video Performance
Although we are really looking to determine how well the Dell performs on typical presentation video, and not how it does as a home theater projector, we were pleasantly surprised. For typical video performance was excellent, and extremely bright. Out of curiousity, I watched brief segments of two movies, The 5th Element from DVD, and Serendipity in HD-DVD, and was most impressed with how it performed as a bright home theater projector with about 3 times the brightness of a typical dedicated home theater projector (in it's best mode).
There was one significant weakness, though, (as a home theater projector, not for typical education/business videos). The 2400MP produces a noisy image. On large medium and brighter areas, you can definitely make out noise in the picture, and at times it is rather significant. This general noise - is visible particularly on non-motion shots, or where this is slow panning, but it's there all the time. Anyone fairly critical, will see it, and it really does make the 2400MP, less than desirable as a bright, affordable digital projector for home theater, which is too bad. Still some will find it acceptable, and it may well do very well for gamers, and possibly sports viewing.
I ran the HQV suite of tests on the 2400MP, and besides the very evident noise in the picture, it performed farily well on jaggie tests, and most of the HQV motion noise tests. So the problem relates to regular noise.
Note, it is still a 4:3 XGA projector, so it produces a lower resolution image (576p) than a typical widescreen home theater projector (720p), although higher resolution than entry level home theater projectors (480p) when watching normal wide screen movies. Considering it's low price, I wouldn't be surprised for it, despite the limitations, be a decent choice as a home theater projector for those needing a lot of brightness, although there are other business projectors less powerful, and similarly priced without a significant noise problem.
Overall I must describe the Dell 2400MP's video performance to be excellent for a portable business projector. This is one you certainly wouldn't mind doubling in your home for movies or sports, and it has the "horsepower" to deal with a fair amount of ambient light, but the high, visible, image noise in bright areas definitely diminishes it for the home roll. For occasional home use, just fine. As a bright home theater projector, you'll want one with less noise, even if it costs more.