Dell S300W Projector - Image Quality
5-9-2010 - Anthony Arrigo
Dell S300W Color & Picture Quality
The Dell S300W being a DLP projector has the typical common problems that seem to plague this technology. Color reproduction on DLP projectors can often be a bit off from what one might expect. Although there have been great improvements over the past few years, Dell and this model still struggle with accurate colors. For instance, yellows tend to have a sort of green mustard like appearance right out of the box. With some color adjustment and even changing the color mode, one can achieve more accurate colors, but it comes at a price. Often times the price is brightness.
The Dell has 4 built-in color modes. Presentation Mode being the default. Then you have a Bright Mode, a Movie Mode to increase contrast in the image, and then you have the sRGB mode which will use the computers color pallete to determine proper color values. I illustrate with photos the different color modes and their effects below. Photographs only provide a rough sense of the color since exposure and monitors are all different, but I think you can see a taste of what I am referring to.
Presentation Mode made the yellow lean towards greenish side, but produced a great, vibrant image over all. Bright Mode just created a very low contrast but ultra bright image that I felt only hurt the overall picture. I would have sacrificed a perfect yellow to not have to use this mode. Movie Mode dropped the brightness down and would help the image if you were playing hi-def video. Keep in mind though, if the film you are watching is not a low-light night scene movie overall, then staying in Presentation Mode would more than likely provide the best image. sRGB produced great color, but I felt it sacrificed contrast for color and menu items on the screen started to become less pronounced. However, if you were showing PowerPoint slides and not teaching a class that used the interface heavily, this would be an ideal setting. Here are few shots of the projector handling a color chart. Then I will discuss the projectors ability to handle higher resolutions.
Dell has done a really good job producing an incredibly clear and sharp image. In its nativ resolution of 1280x800 pixels. The image size used for evaluation was 82" diagonal. From about 15 feet away 10 pt type caused little to no eye fatgue and could easily be read. Menu text in Microsoft Excel was also completely clear and readable. In different color modes other than Presentaion Mode, there was some loss of contrast in the menus, but nothing that would be too distracting. You may notice that the images below are a bit wavy. Because the image is being projected onto a pull down screen, any wavyness that might be in the screen material will be easily noticed when using a short throw projector. So keep that in mind. If you are projecting on to a wall or fixed screen this should not be an issue. Manufacturers do make certain screens that have tensioning on the right and left side to minimize this problem. You don't encounter this issue with non short throw projectors.
The Dell S300W handled high resolution better than expected. The highest resolution it can achieve is 1680x1050. Projecting a 82" diagonal image and viewing from about 10 feet away text sizes like 10pt and 12pt were not as easy to read. Larger than that came out fine. If you are just doing a PowerPoint presentation with big type but a fair amount of info on each slide, the high resolution setting would be fine. However, any spreadsheet work would very quickly be taxing on the eyes. This is to be expected though. Running the projector in resolutions beyond its native should only be for occasional use.