Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Dell M110 Review

When one thinks of projectors, they often visualize a bulky, ugly thing that lies bang in the centre of a conference room. However, one cannot blame them for visualizing such a thing, because for most parts, projectors do tend to look like this. So, when we get a projector that is just about the size of a MacBook Pro charger, we couldn’t wait to try it out. Countless brands have been launching mini-projectors, since a while now and their size seems to be shrinking further, steadily. A few mobile phones are available in the market that has these features, too. So does the Dell M110 make a worthwhile option for a projector? Read on to find out.

Design and Build Quality
This Dell M110 has been mainly designed with the needs of business professionals in mind, who are always on the go. The size of the projector, which at 105.3 x 104 x 36.5mm is rather small, allows one to easily carry it around in a laptop bag or even a ladies handbag for that matter. Apart from it being small, it is lightweight as well weighing just around 360g, further cementing our claim that it can be carried around without any hassles.
Maximum brightness at 300 lumens
Maximum brightness at 300 lumens

It's exterior has a black glossy finish, which makes it suitable for most situations. With a black finish, one cannot usually go wrong as it fits in well in a conference room, while watching movies within the comforts of one's house or any other time. The fact that it’s glossy adds a fair amount of style, but if you’re a stickler for neatness, then the smudge marks caused by fingerprints may bother you. The controls for the projector are located at the top and they are denoted by a blue LED light. The lens focal adjustment is located at the top of the projector as well.  These are the major design features found at the top panel of the projector. The lamp for the Dell M110 is located at the front towards the right.

Connectivity options for the projector are located on the rear and these include a slot for MicroSD card, HDMI port, 24-pin Universal I/O connector for analog RGB input, USB port for multimedia playback and AV-in. There are vents located on all sides of the projector, which help take care of cooling. Apart from this, the projector features in-built speakers as well. The build quality is pretty good and the feel is quite sturdy. There is nothing cheap looking about this projector at all and if dropped accidentally, it appears that it can come out on top.

The projector, in HDMI mode, outputs at a native WXGA resolution of 1280 x 800. This type of resolution is found mainly on laptops. While quite a few projectors output at 1080p nowadays, we are not complaining about this resolution, given the size of the M110. As for the brightness levels, Dell rates its M110 projector at 300 lumens with a contrast ratio of 10,000:1.

The interface of the projector is located at the centre of the screen and we were not too happy about this as it tends to interfere with the happenings onscreen. For other projectors, Dell has placed the OSD at the bottom of the page with the option of moving it to the top as well. However, with the Dell M110, we can change the location of the OSD as per our liking in the advanced settings for it to feature in any of the four corners or remain in the centre, which is its default.
Controls located at the top
Controls located at the top

The interface is pretty easy to navigate through with there being options for selecting the source, choosing the mode of viewing, volume levels of the in-built speakers, advanced settings, among others. The advanced settings are pretty detailed with the options for adjusting settings for image, display, projector, menu, power and information. Multimedia playback through a FAT32 drive is possible as well and it can read a range of video formats. However, when it comes to NTFS drives, this option is not possible. This limits our expansion capabilities to a fairly large extent. For a mini-projector, these are some pretty good features that have a lot of tweakable options.Performance
Starting off with the performance, the projector does not emit too much heat, which is a good thing and the noise levels are pretty soft. If one is in an extremely quiet room, only then can one can hear the hum generated by it. We tested the Dell M110 in a number of ways, such as running the DisplayMate test, playing videos of a USB flash drive and connecting it to our test rig to output content.
USB at the back can play multimedia content
USB at the back can play multimedia content

In the DisplayMate test, we set the projector to Movie mode to get the best possible performance. During the brightness and contrast adjustment check, we saw that greys and white were accurate. In the intensity range check, we observed that there was a proper distinction between the grey bars, which was a good thing. While checking black levels, we noticed that most of the dark grey blocks were visible, thus telling us that the black levels of the projector are good. Basic colour rendered accurately, albeit a bit vibrant. However, these can be tweaked in the settings menu. In the reverse video contrast check, we saw that even after playing around with the lens focal adjustment, the text was not as detailed as expected. Text on the colours of green, magenta and yellow appeared a bit hazy. Green, on the other hand appeared extremely vibrant as compared to other colours. While checking the primary colours, we observed that green was too vibrant, while other colours were fairly accurate. In the colour scales test, we saw that there was colour bleeding in many bars such as red, cyan, pink, green and blue.

We connected a USB flash drive to the projector and the load time was not that long. It took roughly around 7 seconds to open the USB interface. Once in the interface, we were able to select what type of file we wanted to play such as video, music, etc. The processing time for movies is a bit long, but once it starts playing, there are no delays noticed. As stated earlier, black levels of this projector are really good and while watching dark scenes, it gives one the feeling of being in a theatre.

When we played back videos, while connecting the test rig attached via an HDMI cable, we saw that colours appeared detailed and one would enjoy watching videos through it. The black levels again play a big role in enriching the viewing experience of this projector. While viewing documents with the projector set in presentation mode, the text appeared crisp and detailed. Overall, the performance of this projector is pretty good.
Comes with a trendy carrying case
Comes with a trendy carrying case

The Dell M110 is available in India at a market operating price of Rs. 33,000. This mini-projector is priced competitively in the market and offers really good features and a  good build quality. Performance-wise, the black levels are really good, which helps in the viewing performance. As suggested earlier, this is an ideal projector for business people who are always on the move, given its form factor and video performance. The question, if mobile phone projectors can be a good replacement for mini projectors does arise here. As of now, the answer to this is no, as mobile phones do not provide these many inputs and Dell offers quality, which is better than most mobile phones with projectors available in the market, at present.

1 comment:

  1. The question, if mobile phone projectors can be a good replacement for mini projectors does arise here. As of now, the answer to this is no, as mobile phones do not provide these many inputs and Dell offers quality, which is better than most mobile phones with projectors available in the market, at present.gw2 gold
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