Posted on December 13, 2019 By Nikki Zelinger
Vivitek DH3660Z Laser Projector Review – Performance: Brightness, Contrast, Audible Noise
The Vivitek DH3660Z claims an exceedingly bright 4,500 lumens. This projector did fall short of its claim, but only just, with its brightest mode, Bright, coming in at 4,269 lumens. Most projectors fall short of their manufacturer claims, some even by 25%, but the Bright mode on this projector came pretty close. 4,269 is plenty bright to handle even the most dire of ambient light circumstances.
You won’t be using Bright Mode, however, because it is ugly. If you have uncontrollable ambient light, but still want pretty decent color, you’ll want to go with Presentation or User Mod. Presentation Mode measured at 3,467 lumens, and User measured 3,113. Movie Mode, the best mode for video content, measured a nicely bright 3,042 lumens. Game Mode follows as the next brightest, at 2,571 lumens, and DICOM SIM. after, at 2,028 lumens.
The Vivitek DH3660Z projecting in a fully darkened room.
The Vivitek DH3660Z projecting in a room with a lot of ambient light.
Though the least bright mode at 1,934 lumens, sRGB (the “best mode” for presentations, infographics, and websites), it is still capable of handling a fair amount of ambient light. I took a photo of the SpaceX website, with the Vivitek projecting in a fully darkened room, then again in the face of ambient light.
I chose this image because of its black background. Black is the first color to disappear when confronted with ambient light. As you can see from these photos, the projector performs well holds up, even in a bright room environment, and even in its least bright mode (all other modes will be even better at handling ambient light). This is particularly important for classroom and conference room environments, where there is often a degree of uncontrollable ambient light.
The Vivitek DH3660Z has a contrast claim of 20,000:1. At Projector Reviews, we’re more interested in a projector’s black level performance than we are in what the claim is. As claims go, this projector’s got a low one (my last projector review was of a Maxell, which had a claim of 500,000:1) but I found it to be pretty comparable to others I’ve reviewed with much higher contrast claims.
So, what is black level performance? Black levels is a term that refers to how dark the blacks are. Rarely will you find a projector that even comes close to pure black in the business and education market, because it is simply not that important – that is something that home theater projectors try harder to achieve, and rarely do, save for the more high-end Sonys and JVCs.
“Good enough” black levels for a business or education projector is more of a medium dark grey to dark grey. Most projectors will measure up to this standard. There have been a few projectors that have really wowed me in terms of black level performance in this market over my time as a reviewer. A Sony that was included in the 2019 Classroom Projectors Report comes to mind – but that projector is a commercial projector, and a bit of overkill for your typical K-12 classroom, college classroom, conference room or board room environment.
A scene from Journey to Space that shows the projector's black level performance, in color.
A scene from Journey to Space that shows the projector's black level performance, in monochrome.
Most business and education projectors’ black levels tend to fit into that medium-grey to dark grey spectrum, with some having more “entry level” black levels (lighter grey), and some performing better, like that Sony. For us, it’s more of a question of, “are the blacks recognizable as black?” when reviewing a business or education projector, rather than if the projector can reproduce true black. Like I said, that’s a standard we reserve for home theater projectors.
The DH3660Z produces suitable black levels, in a more of a medium-grey than anything else. In the slider above, I have two images of the Bigelow Rendering from Journey to Space. The first is in color, and the second, in monochrome. The images are overexposed so as to demonstrate what the projected image looked like in person. Space looks like space, in both images. These photos were taken in Movie mode.
When it comes to audible noise, the Vivitek DH3660Z did not impress me. Everything started out fine. It has a 35db fan noise claim at full power, which is just a tad louder than my own home theater projector, so I thought I could expect the same level of noise. And it was like that, for a while. After about 45 minutes of use, however, the fan kicked on something fierce. It was loud – so loud that I was concerned for the projector’s speaker and its ability to fight through that noise.
It wasn’t good. The fan was super distracting, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for a table top. Ceiling mounted, the level of distraction should taper, but it’s the speakers that are the main concern. If operating this projector at full power, you will want external speakers – plain and simple. However, the projector’s fan noise does quiet down considerably when switched into ECO Mode. Its claim for this power mode is 27db. I believe that. There’s usually a tradeoff of lowered brightness when switching into ECO Mode, but the shift in brightness is so slight, it’s hardly worth mentioning. I recommend ECO Mode for this projector.
That does it for our review of the Vivitek DH3660Z! On the next page, I summarize everything you learned in the review and discuss the pros and cons to the DH3660Z. See you on the last page!
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