Dell 3400MP DLP Micro Portable Projector Review - Overview
05/25/2007 - Art Feierman
1500 lumens, 2.4 pounds, and extremely compact, the Dell 3400MP is designed for the mobile presenter, who primarily present to small to medium sized groups. You don't have to be a road warrior to appreciate it's very small size and light weight, and many will like this micro portable projector, even if just moving it from room to room.
As is typical from such a small projector (a 6 inch by 8 inch footprint - less than half that of a typical laptop), there are limitations, but overall, Dell has put together a very nice package, including a cute little shoulder carrycase, that (although not metal) looks like a minature metal style briefcase.
In exchange for the small size, the Dell has a limited input panel, a small one watt speaker, that definitely is not "hi-fidelity" (afterall, it is much smaller than a laptop, and you know how good sounding the speakers on most laptops are. The projector also runs hot, hot enough to surprise you if you go to pick it up while on, or seconds after powering down, but certainly not enough to burn you.
On the plus side, it cranks out a healthy number of lumens that will produce a very good image on the typical conference room screens (60 to 80 inch diagonal), even with fairly bright lighting. The mobility of this projector is outstanding, and provides a perfect blend of small size and respectable performance, that road warriors crave.
Overall, the performance is very good, with the usual limitation of color accuracy (handling of bright reds and yellows, that is typical of DLP projectors) being it's biggest weakness. And it shares that problem with hundreds of other DLP projectors. Don't worry though, if you really need better color, it is available at reduced brightness. I'll cover this and far more, in the image quality and general performance sections. I found the projector performed very well, and combined with its great portablity, and very reasonable pricing (the very small projectors do sell for a premium over similarly powered projectors that are larger and heavier). All considered, we are pleased to give the Dell 3400MP our Hot Product Award.
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Dell 3400MP Portable Projector: Basic Specs
For more complete projector specs click: 3400MP
Selling Price: $1099 (per Dell website at the time of publication)
Technology: DLP front projector, 2X color wheel
Native Resolution: XGA 1024x768
Brightness: 1500 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.5:1
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: 3000 hours at full power, 4000 hours in Eco-mode
Weight: 2.4 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year standard with exchange program, optional Dell extended warranties
Dell 3400MP DLP Projector: Physical Tour
Looking at the Dell 3400 from the front, the first thing you notice, of course, is how small it is. After that, the small, recessed zoom lens, is located far to the left side. This zoom lens, with a 1.15:1 ratio, doesn't give you much placement flexibility. It's more like you place the projector where you need to to fill the screen, and the zoom let's you fine tune your setup to exactly fill that screen. To fill a 100" diagonal 4:3 ratio projector screen, the front of the projector can be as close as 13.3 feet and as far back as 15.5 feet. Of course a 100" screen is more typical of large training rooms holding 50+ people, than the typical conference room. Of course you can use these numbers and a calculator to figure out the distances for any sized screen.
To focus the projector, simply turn the focus ring around the lens itself. To zoom in or out, there is a lever on the top of the Dell 3400MP, right behind the lens.
In the center front, of the 3400MP, is an infra-red sensor near the top, and a push release for the drop down center front foot, near the bottom. Dell uses a three point stance for stability, and very nicely, both rear feet are screw thread adjustable as well. The front right of the projector (and front of the right side) are occupied by vents for cooling the projector. The vent leaks some light, but should not be a problem for any normal usage.
Moving to the top, you will find the Dell's control panel, nicely backlit with blue LED lights when the projector is on. The large button on the left side (looking from the rear) is the power button, press once for on, twice for power down. The projector takes about a minute to fully shut off, while the fan cools the unit (which I should note is important, as unplugging it too soon is bad for lamp life.
Next is the classic four arrow keys with center Enter button, for navigating the menus. In addition, when you are not in the menus, the left arrow key doubles as Source selection, each time you press it, it toggles you through the possible sources. The Up and Down arrow keys double for keystone correction (a modest +/- 16%), and the right arrow key is the Resync button, which you can press if the image the projector locks onto is less than ideal. Finally, further to the right, is the Menu (on screen display) button. And further right are two indicator lights, one a Temperature warning light, the other, the Lamp warning light. That completes the control panel, all other control of the 3400MP is available through the menus. These will be covered on the General Performance page.
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That takes us to the input panel on the back of the Dell 3400MP. The selection is rather minimal, as the projector is small, and also, because the typical buyer of this class of projector doesn't need a zillion inputs. Looking at the input area, from the left there are two stereo mini jacks, the first for audio out, so that sound can also be relayed to external speakers. The second one is the audio input. The Dell 3400MP accepts stereo audio and combines it to feed the small 1 watt internal speaker.
Next comes the M1 connector, which supports either a DVI (digital), Analog RGB (typical computer), and compoenent video source. Dell provides a cable with the M1 adapter on the projector end, and a standard computer HD15 connector on the other. That same cable also has a USB connector on the computer end, allowing for page forward/back control of presentations from programs like Powerpoint. Next comes two standard video inputs, a composite and an S-video. Finally there is the rear infra-red sensor for the remote, and the powercord receptacle. Dell uses the small connector many refer to as a mickey mouse connector (the name is obvious, when you look at its shape).
That's all there is in terms of our physical tour of the Dell 3400MP portable DLP projector. Time to explore this Dell projector's image quality.