Dell M410HD Portable Projector Review
Mobile presenters dream of light, bright, inexpensive, high resolution projectors. Dell's new M410HD is the thing dreams are made of. At 2.6 pounds and 2,000 lumens, it is almost in a class by itself, but when you add its 1280 x 800 native resolution and its $849 list price, it stands alone among mobile projectors. If you happen to be a movie buff, you will appreciate that 720p video needs no scaling to fit the M410HD's 16 x 10 display. Like any projector, it has a few limitations, but overall, this is an excellent choice for the road warrior looking for a compact powerhouse of a projector.
Brightness and Uniformity: It is a treat to find a projector that exceeds its brightness specification, and the M410HD did it with ease. In Bright mode, it put 2,190 ANSI lumens on the screen . . . nearly 10% higher than its specification. Other presets produced the following: Presentation and sRGB - 1,995 lumens and Movie - 1,075 lumens. Eco mode reduced brightness by 24% and lowered fan noise as well. Uniformity was a less than stellar 60% with the lower right portions of the image brighter than the rest.
Connections: The back panel of the M410HD sports an extensive array of connections. Computers connect via a D-sub VGA connector, and video sources connect through RCA (composite), HDMI (digital), or VGA connectors (component). Audio input and output use mini jacks, and there is a USB connector for firmware updates and page up/down controls via the remote.
Compatibility: The M410HD accommodates a wide range of computer inputs from 640 x 480 to 1,920 x 1080. Video inputs can range from 480p to 1080p. Of course, compression occurs above the M410HD's WXGA native resolution, but scaling artifacts are minimal.
Image Size and Position: The centerline of the lens is 3.5" below the bottom of the image for a 100" image. This offset is fine for cart height, but for tabletop and ceiling mounting, you may need to re-position the image by raising the front of the projector, using a drop tube on the ceiling mount, and/or tilting the projector in its mount. An elevator foot will raise the front of the projector, and horizontal leveling can be accomplished by unscrewing either/both of the rear feet. Vertical keystone correction of +40°/-35° is provided.
Preset modes: Each of the four preset modes (Presentation, Bright, Movie, and sRGB) have slight differences in color, brightness, and contrast for their particular applications. If those presets do not fit your circumstances, there is also a Custom mode where you can store your preferred settings.
Warranty Provisions: Dell provides a two-year limited warranty on the M410HD and offers extended warranties of up to five years for an additional charge. The 165-watt lamp is warranted for 90 days.
Maintenance: The good news is that like most DLP projectors, no real maintenance is needed except for an occasional vacuuming of the air intakes. If the unit were ceiling mounted, lamp changes might require a dismount since access to the lamp is through the bottom of the projector. However, since ceiling mounting is unlikely for a mobile projector and lamp life is 3000 to 5000 hours, this isn't a serious limitation.
Security: While you will probably take the M410HD with you when you finish a presentation, if you have to leave it in place, there is a Kensington lock to help keep it where you leave it.