The Dell Projector 4350 delivers native 1080p (1920x1080) HD resolution, but it's definitively meant for business and education rather than home entertainment. With an $1199.99 direct price, it's a touch more expensive than some other models in the same resolution, weight, and brightness class, but it offers enough to keep in the running. Rated at 4000 lumens, and close to that in our tests, it can throw a bright image that's big enough for a midsize to large room and high resolution enough to show lots of information in enough detail to be highly readable. It's also light enough, at 6.6 pounds, to serve as a bright, high-resolution portable projector.
Like most DLP projectors designed for business, the Dell 4350 delivers much better image quality for data images than video, showing rainbow artifacts, for example, far more often with video than with static data images. However, it handles video well enough that if you don't see rainbow artifacts easily, or don't mind seeing them, you might consider using it for extended video sessions at least occasionally.
The 4350's strongest point for data images is how well it maintains detail. White text on black, for example, was highly readable at sizes as small as 6 points with the test unit, and black text on was white was crisp and readable even at 5 points.
The projector also did a near-excellent job resisting pixel jitter and moire patterns on images that tend to bring both out. Results can vary from one graphics card to the next, but in our tests, there wasn't any pixel jitter, and there was just enough dynamic moire with an analog (VGA) connection to be barely noticeable. Unless you use closely spaced lines or dots for fills in your graphics, you'll probably never see this issue. If you see it, however, you probably won't consider it significant enough to be bothered by it. And, you can get rid of it entirely by using a digital (HDMI) connection instead.
Bright mode delivers the highest brightness of the four presets. It also has the biggest percentage difference between white and color brightness, giving most colors the dull look that typically goes with large differences between the two. There's also a greenish bias, which is obvious enough with photorealistic images to shift colors beyond a reasonable range. However, it's even across all levels, so, for data images at least, the eye quickly adjusts to it.
Presentation mode, the default setting, offers suitably attractive color for business graphics and other data images, with most colors bright and well-saturated. Color balance is near excellent, with no obvious tints at any level between black and white, but it is not quite the absolutely neutral gray at all levels that Movie and sRGB modes offer.
sRGB mode delivers significantly lower brightness than Presentation mode, but also significantly better color for data images along with its excellent color balance.
Movie mode offers the lowest brightness of the four presets, but it's not much lower than sRGB mode. Whether you consider the Movie or sRGB mode to have the best color quality of the presets depends on which colors you're looking at. As with sRGB mode, color balance is excellent.
Rainbow artifacts are a non-issue for data presentations. The only time they showed in my testing was with one image that's designed to bring them out, with small white areas on a black background. With full-motion video, they appeared often enough that anyone who sees them easily and finds them bothersome is likely to be annoyed by them. However they do appear less frequently in well-lit clips, so how bothersome they are will depend largely on the source material.
2D video has some minor problems besides rainbow artifacts, including more judder than with most projectors and obvious noise in more test clips than is typical. In addition, none of the preset modes delivers particularly good color quality for video, both because each mode has at least some dull-looking colors and because of related issues. Posterization in particular isn't significant enough to notice with data images, but shows with photorealistic images in some modes.
The green bias in Bright mode makes it less than ideal for video presentation. In Movie mode, colors look dark, making midtones muddy and hiding shadow detail. Color in sRGB mode falls within an acceptable range, but the mode also loses shadow detail and shows posterization in clips that tend to cause that problem. Presentation mode shows even greater posterization, losing the subtle shading that gives a sense of three dimensionality.
Somewhat frustrating if you're trying to decide on which preset to use is that you can't change modes with 1080p 24Hz input to make comparisons easily. If you're watching a movie on Blu-ray, you have to stop it, switch to 1080p 60Hz input on the same port, change the mode, and then go back to playing the movie to see how the change affects color.
3D video is limited to using Movie mode only, with the necessary drop in image brightness from viewing through 3D glasses added to the loss of shadow detail and the tendency for Movie mode to give midtones and dark scenes a muddy look. The good news for 3D is that I didn't see any crosstalk or 3D-related motion artifacts.
Light and bright. The 4350 is unusually light weight for a 1080p projector that's bright enough for a midsize to large room. The combination is good if you need a portable 1080p model.
Zoom lens. The 1.36x zoom is a smidge better than the more typical 1.3x or lower zoom for this weight class, giving the 4350 more flexibility for how far you can put it from the screen for a given size image.
Hidden compartment for wireless dongle. The top cover, held on by a screw, protects a hidden compartment meant to keep a wireless dongle hidden from view and protected from someone casually walking off with it. In addition to an HDMI port for the dongle, there's a USB A port for powering it and a cable plugged into the port with a micro-USB connector at the other end.
Full HD 3D. In addition to offering full HD 3D compatibility, the 4350 automatically recognizes 3D input and switches to 3D mode. It works with DLP-Link glasses only.
Fast switching between inputs. Dell says the 4350 switches between input sources faster than the competition. That's hard to confirm because we don't normally time how long this takes. However, we can confirm that the 4350 sometimes switched in as little as 2 seconds in our tests, usually took 4 seconds, and never took more than 5. As a strictly subjective reaction, 2 seconds feels unusually fast, and 4 to 5 seconds feels typical. We've certainly seen projectors that take longer.
Useful audio. The 10-watt mono speaker delivers good enough sound quality for business presentations with enough volume to fill a small conference room.
Security. The menu offers password protection if you need it, and there's a Kensington lock slot on the back.
Warranty. Price includes a two-year warranty, which is better than the one-year offered by some competitors.
Brightness. Our Dell 4350 test sample comes close to its 4000-lumen rating in its Bright preset mode. It also offers three additional factory preset modes and can store one Custom mode. If you start with any preset and make a change, the changed version automatically becomes the new Custom setting.
With the test unit's zoom lens set to its widest angle position (the shortest throw for the image size) we measured the ANSI Lumens for the Normal and Eco lamp settings at:
Color brightness. In Bright mode, the 4350's color brightness is only 18% of the white brightness, which explains the dull look of most colors in Bright mode. In Movie mode, the color brightness is a much better 58% of white, which isn't unusual for a business projector but is far lower than most home cinema DLP models. Even at 58%, however, the lower color brightness means that full color images won't be as bright as you would expect from the white brightness level.
Zoom Lens Effect. In the full telephoto setting, the 1.36x zoom drops the brightness by 18%, essentially as much as using the Eco lamp setting.
Brightness uniformity. The 4350's measured brightness uniformity is only 54%. That's a surprisingly poor score for any projector today, and enough that, with a solid white image and the test unit on a table in front of the screen, the center vertical swath was visibly brighter than the sides, and the bottom brighter than the top. However, the brightness across the screen changes gradually enough that it's hard to see the difference with any image that breaks up the field of view. As a practical matter, this shouldn't be an issue.
Rainbow artifacts show rarely for data images. With full-motion video, they also show rarely in scenes with uniformly bright lighting. However, they show often enough in dark scenes and with black and white clips to be annoying to anyone who finds them bothersome.
Input lag. The Bodnar meter indicates a lag of 33.1 ms.
Fan noise. Rated at 37dB in Normal mode, it is loud enough to hear easily from 15 feet away in a quiet room. The pitch is similar to the whoosh of traffic noise from a nearby highway. Eco mode is slightly lower in pitch and the rating drops to 32dB, which is still loud enough to hear easily from five feet away. I wouldn't be bothered by putting the projector directly in front of me on a small conference room table, but I'm pretty tolerant of noise. Anyone who's sensitive to fan noise is likely to feel otherwise, even with Eco mode. There is no high altitude mode.
Lamp life. Dell rates the lamp life at 3,000 hours in Normal mode and 4,000 in Eco mode. Replacements are $139.99.
The Dell 4350 can throw a 120" 16:9 image from a range of roughly 9.5 feet at it's widest-angle setting, for maximum brightness, to roughly 12.5 feet at its full telephoto setting and an 18% lower brightness. You can use the Projection Calculator to determine the available range of throw distance based on the screen size you want to use.
With the projector sitting on a table, the 116% offset ratio puts the bottom of the image about 16% of the image height above the midline of the lens, or about 9 inches above for a 120" image. The offset is designed to work well with the projector on a table or inverted in a ceiling mount. If you need to tilt the projector to get the image to match the screen height, the digital keystone adjustment offers a substantial range for correcting keystone distortion, from plus to minus 40 degrees.
Plan for lamp degradation. Keep in mind that high-pressure lamps lose brightness as they age, typically losing 25% of their brightness in the first 500 hours of use, with the rate of loss decreasing over time.
If you plan to use the 4350 as a portable projector, you can compensate for the aging by making sure it's initially bright enough even when using some combination of Eco lamp mode and the telephoto lens setting, with the projector as far as it can get from the screen for a given size image. As the lamp ages, you can switch to Normal lamp mode as well as set up the projector closer to the screen with wider-angle lens settings to boost brightness.
For permanent installation, you can't move the projector as the lamp ages, but you can pick a throw distance where Eco mode will give you an image close to the maximum, as opposed to the minimum, acceptable brightness level for the image size and ambient-light level, and then boost the brightness as the lamp ages by switching to Normal mode. For either portable use or permanent installation, if color quality isn't critical, you can also make sure one of the lower-brightness preset color modes is bright enough to start with, and, as the lamp ages, switch to brighter modes.
Rainbow artifacts. Although this is a non-issue for data presentations, rainbow artifacts show frequently enough with full-motion video to limit the 4350's usability for any application that requires much video.
No really good color presets for video. The preset color modes are tuned more for data presentations than for video, delivering color quality that's usable for video but not much more than that.
No easy way to switch color mode with 24Hz input. Having to switch to 60Hz input to change the color mode preset is both inconvenient and takes too long if you're trying to compare color quality in different modes.
3D video limited to Movie mode only. The combination of 3D glasses lowering the effective image brightness plus 3D being limited to Movie mode makes 3D images uncomfortably dim if you've chosen an image size based on using a brighter predefined mode for watching in 2D.
Fan noise. The high level of fan noise, even with Eco mode, can be an issue if you need to place the projector close to where people will be sitting.
The Dell Projector 4350 is an attractive choice as a data projector for business presentation use. Its strongest attribute is its ability to deliver extremely sharp text and small font sizes. If you are working with a lot of financial spreadsheets, text documents, or line art with lots of detail like engineering or architectural drawings, the 4350 is a solid choice for this type of presentation.
The fan noise may be a problem in some cases, but if you can use Eco mode with its lower noise level, or position the projector where nobody will be close to it, that won't matter. Similarly, its mediocre color quality for video and its tendency to show rainbow artifacts makes it the wrong choice if you need to show much video. But it handles video well enough for short video clips in a business presentation.
Overall, the 4350 delivers a bright, high resolution image with crisp detail, and adequate color quality for static data images, along with the convenience of a 1.36x zoom. And if you need to leave the projector where anybody can get to it, the hidden compartment for a wireless dongle adds a welcome touch of extra security. That all adds up to making it a good fit for permanent installation in a corporate conference room. Meanwhile, its 6.6-pound weight makes it a particularly strong candidate if you need a 1080p projector you can carry with you.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Dell 4350 projector page.