The Dell 1100MP is the ideal multipurpose projector: bright enough for entertainment applications, light enough for business purposes, and extremely affordable. Although this stylish projector is one of the smallest in the budget class, it's also one of the best performers and, for less than $800, one of the best deals on the market.
This pint-size projector measures a mere 4 by 8 by 9 inches, about the size of a thick dictionary, and sports a sleek gray-and-silver design. The 1100MP is definitely light enough to take on the road, weighing only 4.9 pounds; with Dell's impressive selection of cables included, the 1100MP's travel weight is just less than 7 pounds. Only theis lighter.
The 1100MP has a handy assortment of controls on its top panel. The power button is large and illuminated with a blue LED--a handy feature for use in dark rooms. Five other buttons, arranged in the shape of a cross, make it easy to navigate the projector's onscreen menu; quickly adjust digital keystone correction, which corrects distortion caused by tilting the projector; and switch between video sources, such as a laptop or an HDTV. The projector itself lacks volume controls, though the remote has them for the 1100MP's mediocre-sounding 2-watt speaker. The remote has all of the controls that are on the projector, as well as page-forward and page-back buttons for PowerPoint presentations. The projector's back accommodates a fairly extensive row of ports and connections, including VGA in and out, S-Video, USB 2.0, audio in and out, and an IR receiver. You'll find an impressive assortment of cables in the box, including a long, 10-foot AC cord and cables for VGA, S-Video, and USB; there's also two audio cables and video cables, which most projectors do not come with. Most of the cables have a Velcro strap for neater storage.
Based on a Texas Instruments' DLP technology, the 1100MP performed quite well. It exceed the advertised brightness rating of 1,400 ANSI lumens by almost 10 percent, achieving 1,534 lumens; it also delivered an impressive 687:1 contrast ratio, falling just behind the best-of-breed . The 1100MP took a fairly long time to warm up--49 seconds--almost twice as long as the BenQ. We were also disappointed by its small image size; five feet from the screen, the 1100MP can create a 39-inch diagonal image, which is tiny compared to the 51-inch image. In general, image quality was superb, but the 1100MP had trouble resolving very light gray, and in our color tests, the reds were spot-on, but blues tended to look green, and greens had a yellow cast. We saw no flicker and were very impressed with how quiet and cool the projector ran. The native SVGA resolution and very sharp focus looked great for both DVD movies and HDTV.
Near the end of our testing, the 1100MP stopped working, which gave us a chance to test-drive Dell's support services. Dell's Web site offered little help beyond an electronic copy of the projector's manual, but the company's toll-free, 24/7 help line was much better: after a 10-minute wait, a technician correctly diagnosed the problem as a blown lamp. Replacing the lamp was fairly simple and involved loosening four screws, two of which had to be transferred to the new lamp. Dell rates its $299 replacement lamps for 2,000 hours (2,500 hours in low-power Eco mode). The operating cost works out to 15 cents per hour--about average for budget projectors.