The aspect of this design that truly shines, in more ways than the obvious one, is the projection assembly. Whatever source you use, the projected image is stable, sharp and has colors that are punchy and vibrant. Especially when using a freshly painted wall, the results are crisp with excellent contrast.
As with most projectors we cover, a test was performed to access the validity of the quoted 3200 Lumens. With maximum brightness set, a value of 2,832 Lumens was recorded, not far from what Dell promises.
Brightness certainly won’t be an issue, even if you don’t have the best blinds or curtains in the intended room of use.
Where many projectors falter is in their representation of skin tones and other subtle light and shade transformation, but not here. Overall, the moving image experience is especially good, either from a video file or streamed content.
The only real snag is the projector’s natural resolution of 1280 x 800. As most laptops come with a screen that has considerably more pixels than that, plugging them in to the S518WL will require some adjustment to the display scaling, and will shuffle any desktop icons to the top-left.
With some DLP designs now offering 1080p, the S518WL’s inability to keep up with those specifications is its Achilles heel. When you consider how good its other aspects are, and the asking price, this projector should have had a higher natural resolution.
What’s not up for debate is how well DLP and laser technology work together. The unit is also remarkably quiet even when generating the brightest possible image, and the 10W internal speakers easily override what little fan noise it does generate. At 300W power use, this isn’t any more power-efficient than any other backlight technology, and is more demanding than most large LCD panels.
There’s plenty to like in this design if you can ignore the physical scale and relatively low resolution of the projector. Although on the plus side, that lower resolution might make sales folks avoid using slides with too many bullet points and wordy descriptions!
In the end, your purchasing decision will come down to whether you want a lower cost device that needs the bulbs changing every couple of years, or whether you prefer to pay more for the Dell S518WL, and not have to worry about the cost of bulb replacements on a relatively regular basis.
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