Since the Dell 1610HD has an HDMI input (Thank you, Dell), I started with my laptop connected via HDMI and fed the projector its native resolution (1280 x 800). As is usually the case when using a digital input, the 1610HD provided a colorful, sharp picture. With all but the Bright image mode, colors were quite accurate. As is typical with most DLP projectors, Bright (the brightest mode) had the worst color rendition. With Bright mode, colors appeared washed out. Reds were darker than they should be and yellows were dingy. Presentation and sRGB modes provide a great improvement in color fidelity and should be sufficient for all but the most demanding color presentations. Both modes have a significant reduction in brightness as compared to Bright mode, but the 1610HD is such a bright projector that even in Presentation mode, it still outperforms much of the competition’s brightest mode.
If high brightness is not a concern, the use of Video mode will provide the best balanced color and the most accurate color palette. In addition to video presentations (discussed below), photo presentations displayed accurate colors and great realism.
Switching to the VGA input, there was no noticeable change in picture quality or depth of color. Overall, the depth of color is similar to most DLP projectors, that is to say a bit washed out in comparison to its LCD counterparts, but it’s still acceptable for the 1610HD’s intended use.
As seems to be the norm these days, the 1610HD provided a very sharp image at any resolution or aspect ratio. The improvement in compression technology has resulted in excellent performance at higher than standard resolutions, even with small (8 pt.) text. This is particularly true of DLP projectors, which generally have a higher pixel fill ratio than their LCD counterparts. In this regard, the 1610HD was no exception. Using our usual spreadsheet with a range of text sizes and colors on a 75” diagonal projected image, all text down to 8 pt. text was very readable. This level of readability continued as we moved to white text-on-black and yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds. There was some degradation with 8 pt. text, but it’s really too small to be read in most uses. With many of today’s projectors, looking at the 8 pt. is the only way to differentiate them.
Moving up to higher resolutions, we tried both 1600 x 1200 and 1600 x 900 resolutions, to test the 1610HD’s ability to scale and resize these higher resolutions and different aspect ratios. At either resolution, the 1610HD was still readable with the smallest text, with only the slightest color fringing with the yellow text/blue background combination.
Overall, the Dell 1610HD had no problem maintaining readability with virtually any normally used text size or resolution.
Video performance of the 1610HD was evaluated using my laptop’s DVD playback software, via HDMI. Beginning with the best mode, Video, I played the some of the usual scenes from “The Fifth Element” and “Casino Royale”. Overall, the picture looked quite natural, with good skin tones and well saturated colors. Blacks were acceptable, particularly for this class of projector and only suffered in comparison to home theater projectors when it came to viewing darker scenes. For a projector with no gamma controls or adjustable iris, the 1610HD did an admirable job. While this translated to either a loss of shadow detail or blacks that looked too gray, such critical viewing is not what this projector is designed for.
Switching to other modes, both Presentation and sRGB provided an acceptable picture. While appearing more washed out than Video, colors were still quite accurate. It would be more than acceptable for daytime viewing of sports events and the like, where the extra lumens over Video mode would come in handy. It would also make an acceptable choice for classroom video presentations, as its built-in 8-watt speaker can create an acceptable volume level for small to mid-sized classrooms or conference rooms.