Many projectors lay claim to being portable or even ultra-portable, but the Dell 3100MP really deserves this accolade, weighing in at a mere 1.6kg. This is the same as an ultra-portable notebook, and with a similar footprint; 5.6 x 17.6 x 22.5cm.
The 3100MP uses a 130W lamp, which provides a rated maximum brightness of 1,050 ANSI lumens and can project up to 12m. A standard DVI-I connector accepts analogue or digital signals, but Dell provides only an analogue cable, so you’ll need an adapter if you want to use the digital source. A 15-pin D-sub pass-through connector for a monitor is supplied – an item that’s often missing with smaller projectors – so that the operator can view the display simultaneously on a monitor.
The projector scales images from a maximum of UXGA (1,600 by 1,200 pixels) down to its native XGA (1,024 by 768 pixels), but the process creates an extremely large number of artifacts (image distortions). Even when scaled down from 1,280 by 1,024 pixels, artifacts are noticeable, but the image is useable if necessary. Scaling up from 800 by 600 pixels produces images that are much better, though still not as smooth as with some projectors. Ideally, then, the input should be chosen to match the projector’s 1,024 by 768 native resolution.
Setting up the 3100MP is straightforward thanks to a manual focus and zoom for image adjustment, along with auto syncing of analogue signals. This latter works smoothly and can also be re-tuned via the remote control. The remote also has a volume control, an image source selector and a laser pointer, and can be used as a remote mouse with either a USB or a serial connection.
Other buttons on the remote control include those for digital keystoning for video images, which are imported through either a composite video or a S-Video port. There is an audio input port to complement this.
Display contrast response from the 3100MP was very good at both ends of the spectrum while colour ramps were smooth and sharp. Brightness uniformity was also first rate but on the down side, as with many DLP (Digital Light Processing) projectors, the reds were a little dark and the yellows a bit muddy.
The projector worked well with video signals, showing good representation of skin tones, but the projector’s speaker was too small for anything other than a small meeting room. The projector is quiet in operation, but hot air is vented out of the side, where someone is likely to sit. A front vent design would have been better in this respect.
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