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Shoot-out: Dell 3200MP vs. Optoma Ez-Pro 737

Evan Powell, February 21, 2003
Review Contents

Based on your email requests, we thought it was time to do a shoot-out review of two of the best-selling micro-portables on the market today-the Dell 3200MP and the Optoma Ez-Pro 737. The testing has been completed, and the results are in.

Product Overviews

The Dell 3200MP and the Optoma Ez-Pro 737 are small, lightweight projectors designed for the mobile presentation marketplace. They have many similarities on the spec sheets. Both are alleged to weigh 3.5 lbs. Both use an XGA (1024x768) resolution DLP chip, and have 150-watt lamps rated at 2000 hours. Both have the same 1.2x zoom lens, Pixelworks deinterlacing, identical throw distances, HDTV compatibility, +/- 16 degree keystone correction, and monitor loop-through. Both have an advertised contrast ratio of 1800:1, and similar brightness ratings-1500 ANSI lumens for the EzPro 737 and 1300 ANSI lumens for the 3200MP.

The EzPro 737 has a couple of "nice to have" features that are missing on the 3200MP. One is Picture-In-Picture that can be driven by either the composite or S-video inputs. The other is an RS-232 port that gives additional mouse control function via the remote, thus freeing the presenter from being glued to the laptop.

Connection panels: These two projectors have almost identical connection panels. They each feature a single M1-DA input port through which all computer signals as well as DVI, component and HDTV video signals must be fed. In addition, there is one S-video port, one composite video jack, one audio input, and a 15-pin VGA output for monitor loop-through. To this configuration the EzPro 737 adds the RS-232 port. Both projectors have IR sensors on the front and back panels and menu control keypads on the top.

Size and weight: The 3200MP is just slightly smaller than the EzPro 737. Both stand shy of 3" in height, but the EzPro 737 is 9.5" wide by 8.25" long. The 3200MP is 9.25" wide by 7.25" long. However, the 3200MP's carrying case is the larger of the two-13.5"x 10.5"x 5" compared to the 737's 12.25"x 10.25"x 4.5". The 3200MP's case is built of stiffer material. Dell's case appears as though it might provide somewhat better protection if you dropped in on the street, but we did no impact testing to see which projector would survive the stiffest blows.

These units are supposed to weigh 3.5 lbs. However the 3200MP's actual weight is 3.62 lbs, and the EzPro 737 is 3.98 lbs. What we see here is a bit of fudge factor that infects almost all projectors specifications from most vendors in the marketplace. Each individual vendor is faced with the problem of quoting accurate specs, and thereby losing business to competitors who exaggerate their numbers, or quoting "equivalent" numbers that make their products appear comparable to competitive units that they are indeed on par with. Most choose the latter.

Thus we routinely find that even specs like weight which should be error-free tend to be understated. And if vendors are tempted to understate specs as straightforward as weight, you can imagine what they must be doing with ANSI lumen and contrast ratings. And you would be right. All manufacturers' specs should be viewed with extreme skepticism. They should be interpreted as a very loose guide to what the product might be capable of. But that's about the limit of it.

Audible noise: The 3200MP is rated at 37dB, and the 737 is rated at 32 dB. From the specs you would assume the EzPro 737 is quieter. It is not. These two projectors generate virtually the same amount of audible noise. The EzPro 737 has a slightly lower pitch, but we would classify the noise level on both of these units as low to moderate within the mobile projector category. They are for all practical purposes unobtrusive in sales presentations, but a bit louder than most (but not all) of the products being targeted at home theater these days.

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