Not cheap and not a sports or movie solution
What is the Dell 4350 DLP Projector?The Dell 4350 is a single-chip DLP projector that is designed for presentations in bright rooms with 4,000 claimed lumens and with a Full HD 1920 x 1080p resolution. The Dell also has the ability to play HD video and with the Euros and Olympics making up this year’s 'summer of sport', you could employ this projector to provide the big screen action. However, is this a suitable choice for AVForums members to take advantage of for big screen sports and movies? Let’s find out…
Design, Connections & Control
The Dell 4350 is first and foremost designed to be a professional presentation projector for use in bright boardrooms firing at a white board or just the wall of the meeting room. As such it is loud and bright with the ability to present text and stills in reasonable detail with the laser pointer built into the remote control so you can point to your solution to the latest business problem in your presentation stills. There is also a built-in 10W speaker so you can also add hilarious sound effects into your powerpoint presentation during page transitions. You can just imagine the fun to be had. Of course these features are not of any interest to AVForums readers, but we do test every product that we get in for review properly and with a quick connection of our Apple Mac and some web pages and stills, the Dell produced a reasonably bright image in our well-lit living room. So, if you need something for presentations it certainly fulfils the promises made in the marketing materials. But let’s move on to its cinema and sport credentials and see if the same can be said.
First of all the design is very much for a business projector with the lens positioned to the right side of the front face and the air vents to the left. Light does leak from these vents which also expels hot air and even in Eco lamp mode, sounds like a 747 taxiing to the runway. For use in a cinema room it is probably too loud, unless you can hide the unit away from the main seating area. The chassis body is 324 x 95 x 250mm in size and it weighs in at 3Kg and is also made from strong plastics and is black in colour. Above the lens is the manual focus and zoom rings which are easy to adjust and set but we did find focus was hard to get correct and we never succeeded in getting the entire image in focus. Just behind these are a number of buttons which allow menu access as well as functions like keystone correction. To the right of these is a large Dell logo on the top plate and if you loosen the screw on the side of the unit, this whole top plate can be removed to reveal a second HDMI and USB port with a power supply designed to fit Fire TV sticks or similar. The idea is that you hide the Stick in this compartment and it doesn’t get lost when moving the projector around.
Around the back are a number of connections more suited to connecting PCs and laptops for presentations, but there are some useful video inputs. We get one HDMI 1.4 slot (the second is under the panel above) along with composite and VGA PC inputs. There are also two USB slots (mini and full size), VGA out, audio in and out, RS232C and a LAN port. You should be able to connect a large variety of tablets, PCs and TV tuners to make sure you can watch what you like on the Dell.
The provided remote control is small and dumpy in size with raised plastic buttons for most of the main direct access controls. Most of the buttons use images to describe what they do rather than lettering and are bunched into relevant groups. At the top are the main menu, direction and enter keys which you will use the most. Under these are direct access keys to features like volume, keystone correction, brightness and so on. The final bottom row features direct source keys. To emphasise the presentation use of the Dell there is also a built-in laser pointer for highlighting items on the screen (and not at aircraft outside).
Features and SpecAs we mentioned at the top of this review this is a presentation projector using a single DLP chip and 6 segment colour wheel, which is optimised for showing text and still images in a bright boardroom. It also features a remote control which has a laser pointer fitted as standard to use within your power points. For the purposes of this review and for AVForums readers, we are not assessing the projector in its main role, but rather as a HD video projector.
The resolution is 1920 x 1080p with a 16:9 aspect ratio and the projector also features the ability to playback 3D video – although Dell did not supply any glasses with the projector for review and none of the glasses we have worked with it.
The claimed brightness of the Dell is 4,000 lumens in the presentation preset, but this is obviously reduced in the Cinema mode with the lamp set to Eco. In the best calibrated set up we had brightness that was just over 1,000 lumens.
There are very few calibration controls included with the Dell and they are very basic indeed. There is a one point white balance adjustment control, no colour management system and no detailed gamma adjustment controls. So we are at the mercy of the cinema preset and the out-of-the-box results. We can already guess that with it being a colour wheel DLP without any special coatings the colour gamut is going to be off hue and restricted when compared to the HD image standard of Rec.709 which as the Dell is an HD projector it should at least attempt to match to present TV, sports and movies accurately.
Out-of-the-Box SettingsThis is probably the most important part of the review for the video capabilities and image quality as there are very few calibration controls to improve the best out-of-the-box results. We measured all the available presets and decided on the Cinema mode with white balance set to mid as the most accurate to the standards. We know that with a DLP the colour gamut will be restricted when compared to Rec.709 with hue errors, but the backbone to our image will be how well the grayscale and gamma tracks.
As you can see in the greyscale chart (top left) green is tracking up to around 5% too high in the brighter part of the scale with blue around the same amount too low. However the major issue here is not the greyscale but the gamma tracking which is far too high in the low end of the scale and too low in the brighter section, meaning we lose detail with the gamma too dark in the blacks and the brighter reaches of the image are too bright and therefore blown out and flat. Indeed the resulting image on screen is very flat with no pop or dynamic range present.
Moving to the colour gamut results (top right) don’t improve issues either with major hue and saturation issues and a restricted gamut size against the Rec.709 standard. This does become obvious with onscreen material and tests where primary colours are brash and when watching sports on a pitch or course, it’s clear that grass doesn’t look like that naturally. This is disappointing but not unexpected with a budget single-chip DLP projector. With no Colour Management System (CMS) we are also restricted with what we can do to improve the image quality. Even if there had been a CMS present there is still very little we can do with such a restricted gamut produced by the colour wheel used.
Calibrated SettingsWith no real calibration controls present in the Dell 4350 menus we have just one point correction for the greyscale at the high end. Using this we are able to improve the tracking (below left) but we can’t do anything about the gamma tracking which is too bright at the bright end of the scale making the image flat and blown out with no depth or pop - as the black end of the scale is also too dark and crushing any detail in there. This is disappointing and could have easily been so much better had the software included a competent gamma control (which are standard on all other budget DLP projectors).
As we have no control over the colour gamut (above right) there is nothing we can do to improve the performance here, so again, disappointing when compared to cheaper DLP machines in this category that do feature effective controls.
Picture QualityIf you have stayed with the review up to this point you can probably expect what the resulting word will be to describe the video playback performance of the Dell. Disappointing.
As a presentation projector we have no doubt it can do the job in an undemanding situation of displaying some text on a white wall or some animated pie charts. But trying to use it as a video projector to watch movies or sport is almost an impossible task if you value good image quality. It is true you will get a colourful, bright image on your projection surface with the Dell, be that a proper screen or a white wall. Just don’t expect the colour to be accurate or true to how they should look as they are over saturated and off hue, with skin tones even looking jaundice as a result. If you can put up with that and the poor black levels which also have a green cast to them, mixed with detail crush in both the blacks and brighter reaches of the image due to very poor gamma tracking, then sure, you can get big screen images from the Dell, almost.
This is not a video projector and to be fair to Dell it isn’t the primary use that this model is sold for, but again, if you are offering big screen video performance in your marketing and sale materials, it should at least try and perform as well as it could. We also know that DLP projectors in this price range can perform extremely well with excellent accuracy and decent black levels and we have reviewed quite a few of these recently, so again it is disappointing that the Dell is so poor at this. And we haven’t even got around to the poor quality motion due to back door sharpening which introduces artefacts with fast moving sports and when it comes to anything bright moving on screen you will see rainbows. The famous lyrics of a well-known TV theme which includes the line ‘Paint the whole world with a rainbow’ could be used as the marketing for this model. Even those who don’t normally feel they are that susceptible to the effect will see plenty of it here and that can only be a result of the colour wheel speed and implementation.
- Compact well built chassis
- Nice idea with hidden compartment for media dongles/sticks
- Very bright which will suit presentations in offices or bright rooms
- Terrible rainbow effect visible on all moving video content
- Very mediocre black levels which are green
- Off hue and over saturated colour performance
- Terrible gamma tracking makes the image very flat and blown out
- Extremely noisy even in Eco mode
Dell 4350 DLP Projector ReviewSadly the overwhelming feeling with the Dell as a video projector is disappointment and even if you have one in the office that the boss won’t mind lending to you to take home for the Euros, save yourself the hassle and watch it on your TV instead.
As a presentation projector we have no doubt it does the job when asked and as this is the main selling point of the 4350 we are sure office managers will love it. It also has interesting features that suit the role of presenting pie charts from multiple devices and it even has a neat way to hide streaming sticks inside the unit so they don’t get lost. But in the terms of an AVForums review, these are the only bright points we can find with the Dell when subjected to use as a video projector.
Our simple advice if big screen images are what you want for the Euros and Olympics is to look elsewhere for accuracy and decent image quality, which can also be used well after the summer of sport is finished. And there are plenty of DLP and LCD projectors out there that cost far less and perform on another level when compared to the Dell and we will be featuring more of these in the coming weeks.
We are sure that Dell will take the feedback in this review as intended and we hope they look at the other DLP models based on this platform and add in what is missing to improve the performance as a video projector. Perhaps then we could recommend it as the all-rounder the 4350 so desperately wants to be.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels6
2D Picture Quality5
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box5
Picture Quality Calibrated5
Ease Of Use6
Value For Money5
Our Review Ethos
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