Dell 3400MP DLP Portable Projector Review: Summary, Pros, Cons
The last time I took a look, out of perhaps 500 current model projectors, there were still only a few projectors under 2.5 pounds (7 or 8 actually) excluding the extremely tiny LED projectors which typically only have about 100 lumens or less. There are about another dozen under 3 pounds. Of them, all are DLP projectors except for a lone 2.9 pound Panasonic LCD projector. That makes the Dell 3400MP one of a select group of micro portable projectors, in terms of size and weight. Overall, the 3400MP provides performance that not too long ago was limited to models twice the size and weight, which is good news for those wanting a projector that adds the minimum to their travel weight, yet can perform extremely well presenting in small to medium sized room.
Forgetting the usual color issues (reds and yellows) discussed in detail, in the Image quality section of this projector review, the Dell 3400MP performs extremely well. It easily exceeded its claimed 1500 lumens (although Dell, on their site, indicates that the average 3400MP measures in just below the claimed brightness). Whether the projector produces 1500 lumens or the almost 1900 lumens I measured, it is more than enough brightness for most presenters. If accurate color in terms of bright reds and yellows is critical to your usage, the 3400MP still manages to produce 853 lumens, again, satisfactory for most presentations, especially considering anyone really needing great color accuracy, is probably going to present with some or most of the lights down.
The small travel case is cute and functional, although this projector is small enough to occupy only a small part of a briefcase (as long as the case can handle the almost 3" of the projector's height), which would mean one less thing to carry. Cabling is worthy of comment. The Dell comes with a bunch of cables, including the main data cable with computer and USB on the computer's end and the M1 digital connector on the projectors end, plus s-video, composite and audio cables. The one place you might have to really shop, though, is if you want to feed the 3400MP a component video signal (much higher quality than s-video or composite) through the M1 connector. For this, you will either have to find an M1 to component video, or find a component video to female HD15 (computer input), and use that with the provided cable. I doubt if either is going to be hanging on the wall at Radioshack. That said, those cables do exist (I'm pretty sure InFocus sells a solution in their online store, as they pioneered the use of the M1 connector.
But, back to more important things. Build quality seemed pretty good, but the 3400MP suffers from one problem that many small projectors have: Adjusting the zoom lens after setting the focus, consistantly knocks the projector out of focus, so you have to refocus. Of course, if that is the biggest problem with a projector, then life is real good.
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OK, below I'll break it down by pros and cons.
Dell 3400MP DLP Projector: Pros
- Very bright in Presentation mode, good brightness in Film and Video mode
- Physical size and weight - this projector provides a lot of punch in a tiny package
- Very sharp image
- Good warranty, with lots of options, including accident coverage
- Lamp life, a most impressive 3000/4000 hour (eco-mode/full power) rating
- Very good color accuracy in Movie mode, suitable for color accurate presentations
- Some documentation is good, specifically the quick Setup Guide
- Compression technology for handling widescreen resolutions is very good
- Very g ood remote control, buttons are laid out logically, well spaced
- Very good menus, despite requiring hitting an exit item to move back up levels
- Physically cute, and yet impressive
- Functional, small and attractive semi-hard shoulder case
- Excellent - Remote allows control of presentations, and full remote mouse control
- Audio output
- Price performance - considering that you do pay a premium for such a small projector, this projector is an excellent value among the smallest and lightest competition
- And of course, mobility
Dell 3400MP DLP Projector: Cons
- Color performance in Presentation preset - Reds and Yellows are weak(although typical of most DLP portable projectors)
- Documentation sometimes thin, weak index, for example couldn't find info about remote mousing in manual (fortunately they indicate it in the setup card)
- Menu control system, despite four arrow system, relies on Exit key to move back up levels, requiring extra keystrokes (no big deal)
- Limited inputs, only one computer in (accepts analog or digital), no monitor out (that means primarily for laptop users), you can't have component video and a computer hooked up at hte same time.
- Very limited zoom range (1.15:1), although typical for such a small projector at least a couple do a bit better (InFocus 70+, for example has a slightly better 1.25:1)
Dell 3400MP DLP Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Ease of Use
- Audible noise levels (for a projector this small)
- Build quality
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Dell 3400MP DLP Projector: Summary - The Bottom Line
If I was still travelling around, city to city presenting as I did a long time ago (50+ plane flights a year), and presenting in front of small groups of 2 - 25 people, then the Dell 3400MP is exactly the kind of projector I would like to have with me. Sure, I'd be tempted to take a 4-5 pound LCD projector instead for extra brightness and more accurate colors (in brightest mode), but, truth is, the Dell 3400MP easily can do a good job in those classic conference and training rooms. It has enough lumen output, and a clean, very sharp image. With over 1500 lumens (my measured unit), it can easily handle audiences of 100+ in rooms with good lighting control, when needed. Sure, a more powerful projector like the more expensive Epson 1710, is tempting, and it does weigh in under 4 pounds, but the difference in physical size is huge, with that smallest of Epson's still being twice the bulk, and over a pound heavier. No contest for the highly mobile road warrior who wants to travel light.
And, while the Dell is no home theater projector, it does a very respectable job on video, whether business and education type videos or watching an occasional movie.
Here's the bottom line: The Dell does a great job for its small size, and excellent price. 2.4 pound projectors aren't designed for maximum input flexibility, for maximum brightness (although the 3400MP is no slouch), or quietest operation. 2.4 pound projectors like this 3400MP are designed to make life easier on the road, and still let you pull off a professional presentation with the lights on. In this regard, the Dell 3400MP succeeds admirably. I really, really like it!