Posted on March 13, 2018 By Art Feierman
Dell S718QL 4K UHD Laser Projector Review – Special Features: 4K UHD, Laser Light Engine UST, Media Player/MS Office, LAN, LAN Display (FHD only), Bluetooth Audio, 4:1 split screen (FHD), Portrait Mode, Screen Recommendations
This Dell’s single DLP chip is 2716x1528x2 – with the last x2 indicating pixel shifting. Its pixels are larger than native 4K projectors (3840×2160), but the more important element is that the projector accepts 4K content. This projector will produce a slightly sharper image than, say, a 1080p x 2 pixel shifter such as those offered by Epson, and also slightly sharper than the new 1080p x 4 DLP pixel shifters that are now also shipping. Most important is the handling of 4K, because if you don’t need to deal with 4K – now or in the not too distant future, then you definitely can find far less expensive alternative alternative projectors – typically WUXGA (1920×1200) or 1080p.
That said, this projector is designed to have a long usable life!
Equally important to being high resolution is the optical aspects of this ultra short throw projector. I am pleased to report surprisingly little obvious distortions from the UST design. There is definitely some barrel type distortion, a curvature that you’ll notice on spreadsheets and some charts. UST projectors have, overall, improved rather dramatically in the last five years or so, so that they mostly rival their longer throw counterparts when it comes to actual sharpness, but some type of barrel or other distortions are worse that traditional longer throw projectors. Keystone correction can be used to minimize the distortion I mentioned, but many won’t consider that.
The S718QL’s laser light engine brings a number of benefits – the obvious one is the long life without maintenance. But there’s also that brightness drops slowly over time, and color accuracy shifts very slowly over time as well, both big advantages over lamp projectors. Lasers can also produce a wider range of color, although that’s not something widely taken advantage of. Mostly, though, it is very helpful that this projector should run for about a decade without any maintenance at all.
It’s good there are multiple advantages, because relative to lamp replacement, the higher price of this Dell and others, is more than the cost of maintaining lamp based projectors. But the reduced hassle is a real plus, especially if a company or school is managing a fleet of these projectors.
As noted, this is a 5,000 lumen projector. The laser engine itself isn’t especially efficient, as the projector tops out drawing about 500 watts. That’s not very different in electrical cost per lumen when compared to similarly bright lamp based models.
There are several benefits to ultra short throw projection. The first one is that it’s great for the folks presenting. With the projector only inches out from the screen, the presenter/teacher isn’t being regularly blinded by the light of the projector.
It is also typically less expensive to wall mount a projector than ceiling mount one. Where appropriate, though, ultra short throw projectors are neat, as in “out of the way,” when on a table or credenza right in front of the screen, or wall mounted above. What I’m trying to say is, you have the out of the way convenience like being ceiling mounted, as opposed to sitting in the middle of a conference room table.
UST is especially ideal for doing interactive work at the screen, although this model Dell isn’t an interactive projector.
It’s always handy to have a built-in media player. Most projectors’ media players can view jpgs and some other photo files, as well as videos. Some offer more, however, including this Dell, whose player also supports Microsoft Office formats, so you can directly show Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and other documents.
I’m old school, and I especially use a lot of spreadsheets and Word docs, so there are times I’ve found it very handy to present – or huddle, without needing my laptop.
No surprise, the S718QL is ready to network. There’s the usual RJ45 jack in the back, and support for Crestron protocols and with that, many advanced features. Also SNMP and Network Display.
Displaying content over the network is limited to full HD only, not 4K, but that should be reasonable. I can’t speak to why, as I’m not sure what standards are yet in place for 4K over most networks.
HDBT is not built into the projector, so you’ll need an outboard HDBaseT receiver if you want to bring in HDMI and control over long distances using low cost CAT6 cable. It would have been nice to see it built in, but it’s not a commonly found feature except on higher end projectors.
Here’s a relatively uncommon feature I approve of: Bluetooth Audio which will allow the projector to wirelessly connect with Bluetooth speakers for added audio power. Dell offers an interesting roundish speaker system called the Dell Wireless 360 Speaker System.
More importantly, it can be paired with any Bluetooth speaker system. I cannot speak for how reliably a connection can be maintained, so whether that’s a reliable audio solution for large implementations, but on a one off basis, I see it as a great feature to have on board.
The S718QL has the ability to display up to four sources (wirelessly) over a network in four quadrants on the screen.
This can be very useful in classroom, conference room, or even huddle spaces, allowing multiple people to quickly share the screen, or toggle between presentations.
One advantage of laser engines vs lamp based projectors is the ability to rotate the projector. The S718QL can be rotated into portrait mode to produce a tall rather than wide image. This can be useful for some types of presentations, as well as digital signage applications.
The projector can also be mounted vertically to display downward or upward onto a table top, ceiling, or other horizontal surface. For that matter, this Dell works on basically any orientation, including tilted or off-angle on multiple axises.
Due to the ultra short throw design, the projector will be placed just inches from, and slightly below or above, the screen surface. The projector mounts inverted if placed above the screen.
For dealing with ambient light, the first choice in a screen surface would be a ALR (light rejecting) screen designed specifically for UST projectors. As there are no motorized or pull-down screens of this type (yet), if you need something that disappears when not in use, your alternative would be to go with a traditional screen surface such as a matte white, with little or no gain. 1.3 gain is about as high as is practical, and is what I use in my theater, and therefore used in most of the images in this review. Only the images with lots of ambient light taken “downstairs,” not in the theater, were taken with the Dell projector working with a Screen Innovations ALR type screen specific to UST projectors.
The more gain you have in a conventional screen, the darker the corners will be, as the severe projection angles to the corners lose additional brightness, as the higher gain screens will reflect less light back from those hard angles. The advantage of the traditional, but low gain screens, lies in lower cost and the ability to choose motorized or pull down versions.
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