Bright enough for the range from large conference room to small auditorium, the Dell 7700FullHD Projector is particularly appropriate for conference rooms where it has to sit in plain view. Quite simply, it looks good. Although it's on the large side, at 5.3" x 17.0" x 11.4" (HWD), it's sleek and businesslike, with a shiny black case and clean design that will complement the decor in an executive boardroom. And it doesn't hurt that it projects a bright, high quality data image.
Dell rates the DLP-based 7700FullHD at 5000 lumens, and it lived up to that rating in our tests, making it easily bright enough for the size room it's meant for. As you might guess from the FullHD part of the name, it offers 1920x1080 native resolution, making it a good choice for showing complex data images or multiple windows. It also offers picture-in-picture (PIP) mode, so you can see images from two sources at once, and side-by-side mode, so you can see them both at 960-pixels wide.
For this class of projector, the 1.2x manual zoom is a little limited, but any zoom adds flexibility for positioning, and the vertical and horizontal lens shift offer even more flexibility. Overall, the 7700FullHD qualifies as a definitively capable beast, and it offers more than enough to make it worth its $3,999 direct price.
Resolution for fine detail or multiple windows. With its 1920x1080 native resolution, the 7700FullHD is well suited for showing complex images with fine detail or multiple windows with less detail in each. Split the screen into four 960x540 windows, and each one can show more of a spreadsheet or text document, for example, than a single 800x600 SVGA screen.
Excellent data image quality. The projector did particularly well on data image quality in our tests. Color balance is excellent with all presets, with suitably neutral grays at all levels, and text is crisp and readable at sizes as small as 7 points, assuming you're close enough to the screen to read it. Colors are a bit dark in terms of a hue-saturation-brightness model, and red is a little orange with most presets, but colors are generally vibrant and well saturated.
With an analog connection, I saw some moire patterns. However, they show only on screens that tend to cause the problem, and even then they're minor enough that you have to be close to the screen to see them. The bad news is that you may not be able to eliminate them by switching to a digital connection. The highest resolution I could get the projector to work with over an HDMI connection to a computer was 1600x1200. This may be related to the specific graphics chip in the computer I used for testing, however. Dell says it hasn't run into this problem before, and in my tests, the projector worked without problems at 1080p with an HDMI connection to a video source.
Picture-in-picture (PIP) and side-by-side modes. The 7700FullHD can show images from two sources at once using an assortment of different inputs. The full list of allowable combinations is too complicated to list here, but the key options worth mention are that you can show images from VGA and HDMI input at the same time, but not from two VGA or two HDMI sources.
You can also set the PIP picture size to Small, Medium, Large, or Half, which is another name for side by side, and you can easily swap the inputs, turning the main image into the PIP, and vice versa. In my tests, I ran into some complications with high resolution input, which Dell confirmed were related to bandwidth limitations. As long as I stayed with the video source set to 720p or lower and the computer to 1280x800 or lower, however, everything worked as promised.
Reasonably high quality, high volume audio. The two five watt speakers in the 7700FullHD combine reasonably good sound quality with enough volume to fill a mid to large size conference room or classroom.
Lens shift and zoom for easier setup. Although the 1.2x zoom doesn't offer a lot of flexibility for positioning the projector, any zoom is better than none. For the 98" diagonal image I used for my tests, the 1.2x translates to placing the projector at a range between 147" and 176" from the screen. Also adding useful flexibility for placement is both vertical and horizontal lens shift. I measured the vertical shift at a total of roughly 22% percent of the screen height, or a little over 11% above and 11% below the center position. The horizontal shift varies with the vertical shift position, but with the lens at roughly the midpoint of its vertical range, I measured it at a little under 30% of the screen width, or roughly 15% left and 15% right of the center position.
Test Results and Connectivity
Bright image with a wide brightness range. The 7700FullHD came in at 5088 lumens in its Bright mode in our tests, more than matching its 5000 lumen rating, and making it easily bright enough for a large conference room or a small auditorium. For smaller images or dimmer lighting conditions, you can also lower the brightness substantially. The Presentation and sRGB modes both drop the brightness by about 40%, for a nearly identical 3054 and 3040 lumens, and the Movie mode drops it nearly in half, to 2557 lumens. In addition, Eco mode lowers brightness by about 24%, to 3856 lumens with the Bright preset.
Brightness uniformity. Although I measured the brightness uniformity for the 7700FullHD at only 68%, the projector does better than the number suggests. The brightest and dimmest areas are far enough apart, and the change gradual enough, so that even on a solid white screen, you're not likely to notice the difference unless you're looking for it. Break up the image with text and graphics, and the difference is essentially impossible to see.
Good connectivity. The 7700FullHD offers a full set of connectors for image sources, with two HDMI's, two VGA ports that can both double for component video, one 3-RCA component port, plus S-Video and composite video. Other inputs include a USB B port for direct USB display from a computer and a USB A port for reading JPG and Presentation to Go (PtG) files from a USB memory key. (You can download a free utility from Dell's Web site to convert PowerPoint presentations to PtG files.)
In addition, there's a LAN port for displaying images and controlling the projector over a network plus a second USB A port for use with an optional $69.99 Wi-Fi dongle.
Audio connections are more limited. In addition to the two HDMI ports, the projector offers only a single stereo miniplug jack for audio input plus the ability to get audio over the LAN and Wi-Fi connections. A menu option lets you choose which audio input to use. The only additional connectors, finally, are a miniplug jack for stereo audio output, a pass-through VGA connector, a 12 volt trigger, and an RS-232 connector for controlling the projector from a computer or third party controller.
Shortcomings in video quality. Although the 7700FullHD offers better video quality than some data projectors, video has enough issues that it's best limited to short clips. Most notably, I saw a serious problem with shadow detail. On one clip chosen because it's a challenge for most data projectors, it did worse than most, turning large sections of the screen into solid black. Even in scenes that most data projectors don't have problems with, it showed an obvious loss of shadow detail.
Frequent rainbow artifacts in video. Another video limitation is frequent DLP rainbow artifacts. Although they aren't much of a problem with data images, they show much more often with video, where they can be a distraction. If you plan to display a lot of video in your mix of material, you may want to consider a different projector.
Short lamp life. Dell offers a full year warranty for the lamp, which is welcome, but the rated life is only 1500 hours in Normal mode and 2000 hours in Eco mode. At $399.99 direct per lamp, that can add significant running costs over the projector's lifetime.
The 7700FullHD's balance of high resolution, excellent data image quality, and brightness is more than enough to make it worth considering as a data projector for a large room or small auditorium. On the other hand, the 7700FullHD is the wrong choice if you need to show much video. And the relatively short lamp life can raise total cost of ownership.
That said, if you don't expect to show much video, and you don't mind the short lamp life, there's a lot here to like. Not only does the Dell 7700FullHD deliver a bright, high resolution, high quality data image, it offers lens shift, PIP and side-by-side modes, and built in audio that's robust enough to eliminate the need in many cases for an external sound system. As a final plus, for situations where your projector has to be sitting out where people can see it, the 7700FullHD's striking good looks make it an attractive choice in all senses of the word.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Dell 7700FullHD projector page.