Dell’s Tiny But Powerful M209X DLP Business Projector: Overview

Dell M209X Projector Menus

The M209X menu layout is the same as some previous Dell’s we have reviewed. Pressing the Menu button on the Dell remote control, or the projector’s control panel, brings up the main menu, which runs across the bottom of the screen (shown below).

Scrolling (left or right) to the different sub-menus, and then pressing the Enter button results in selecting that sub-menu, which then pops up, above the main menu.

The input menu (not shown), provides the usual manual selection of an input source, or you can select Auto, which lets the M209X automatically locate and select the first live source it sees.

The Auto-Adjust sub-menu, allows the Dell to “do its thing” and lock into the selected source, and do what it takes to get the best possible image.

Next comes the Setup menu. This menu allows manual or automatic adjustment of keystone correction. It also offers manual control of the aspect ratio.

The Picture sub-menu has most of the usual goodies for adjusting the image, including: Brightness, Contrast, Color Temperature, and individual Red, Green, and Blue color adjustments. There are three color temp choices – Low, Mid, and High, as well as a Custom, that you can adjust manually.

Next, moving right, comes the Display sub-menu, shown to the right here. This menu, of particular note, offers a choice of five video modes, including PC, Movie, sRGB, Game and once again, a Custom mode you can setup yourself.

In addition, there is a digital zoom control, and adjustments for White intensity, and Degamma.

Moving over one more on the Main menu, you will find the Lamp sub-menu. As you would expect, the Lamp menu lets you select the full power lamp mode, or lower power Eco-mode. This menu also tracks lamp hours, lets you engage Power Saving which will shut down the projector after a period of time with no active source. There is also a Quick Shutdown mode, for those in a hurry, and, of course, the Lamp Reset, needed when you replace an old lamp.

Next comes the Language menu, allowing you a choice of about a dozen different languages (more than most), and finally, a sub-menu simply labeled Others.

The Others menu offers control of volume (the Dell as a single 1 watt speaker), and it lets you select HDMI or Analog for your audio source. (Remember, an HDMI input carries audio as well as video.)

You can use this menu to save a custom graphic for your startup screen, control the menus themselves, in terms of how long they appear on the screen, how transparent they are, etc.. From this menu, you can also password protect the projector.

Also, of significant importance, is the Factory Reset, which, of course, returns all the settings of the M209X to their original factory defaults.

Dell M209X Projector - Remote Control

A very nice little remote control. The operative terms are: Small, good layout, and styled to match the projector (complete with shiny black buttons that match the projector’s control panel, a flat black look for the rest of the remote and additional buttons, and the same gray trim. Cute!

But, the functionality is what people care about. Here goes:

The top section of the remote offers the same functionality as the control panel on the projector itself. It’s got the four arrow keys, a center Enter button (indicated with a checkmark symbol), a Menu button and a button to toggle between aspect ratios.

Below all of that, are twelve more buttons, in rows of three.

The first row from left to right, offers up: Volume Up, Mute, and Page Up (for basic presentation control when hooked up to a computer via USB, in addition to the image source).

The second row starts with Volume Down, the middle button engages the laser pointer, and the right one, is the matching Page Down button.

Next comes Source, Keystone Up, and Video mode selection, while the last row offers Auto Adjust, Keystone Down, and Blank screen button.

That pretty much covers it. The buttons feel and work well. Despite the remote’s small size, people with large hands should be most pleased, as all the buttons are nice an large. Overall, it feels good in one’s hand. Nicely done. Having the buttons all backlit, would have been a nice touch, but, we’re seeing less endless backlit remotes as portable projectors get brighter and brighter, and are less used in fully darkened rooms.

Click Image to Enlarge

Dell M209X Lens Throw and Lens Shift

As noted in the Overview, the Dell’s lens has very little zoom range – only 10% – 1.1:1. This is not uncommon among the smallest projectors, and few small portable projectors including those twice the size, offer more than a 1.2:1 zoom range (20%). Bottom line, the zoom lens feature is more about finding the right spot to fill the screen, and having just enough zoom control to fine tune it.

The Dell does not have Lens shift (don’t worry, it’s almost unheard of on portable business projectors, but found on many designed for fixed installation).

Dell M209X - SDE and Rainbow Effect

The Dell, being a typical, single chip, DLP business projector, uses the typical 2x speed color wheel. That is just fine for most applications. For video, where the rainbow effect is much more likely to be visible, those of us sensitive to the rainbow effect, will see it. Since the Dell is a DLP projector, the pixel structure is definitely less visible than with 3LCD projectors. This does tend to make it seem a touch softer than an LCD projector, but in reality, that doesn’t impact readability. It’s the more visible pixel mask of an LCD projector that pretty much makes it seem sharper, without actually being sharper.

Dell M209X Audible Noise Levels

With the Lamp on full power, the projector is rated 39 db. A bit noisy, but not really a problem for business presentations. In Eco-mode, however it drops to 33 db, which is pretty quiet for a business projector, and about the same as a typical home theater projector when in full power.

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