The Dell 2100MP is a compact and lightweight SVGA projector that marries a full complement of basic features with good overall performance. Traveling business types will appreciate its 4.1-pound heft, rugged carrying case, small remote control, and image brightness. Home users will love its exceptionally quiet fan, great contrast, and component video cable. And everyone will love its low, $1,299 price tag (Dell often runs promotions that push the price even lower). The only things lacking are a speaker and a laser pointer.
The Dell 2100MP deviates from the traditional boxlike projector design with a stylish curved, silver-and-gray case. The size is about average for a portable projector, measuring 10.2 by 8.5 by 3.5 inches (W, D, H). At 4.1 pounds, it's one of the lightest in its class.
Its overall traveling weight is also one of the lightest in its class. The excellent carrying case has a hard-plastic exterior lined with plenty of foam. An outside pocket accommodates any cables you might need. With the projector inside and a typical assortment of cables in the pocket, the total package weighs just 5.3 pounds.
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The curved case sets the Dell 2100MP apart from its blander competition.
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The Dell's control panel is simple but effective.
Inside, the 2100MP uses a single Digital Light Processing (DLP) chip from Texas Instruments rather than an array of small LCD screens. DLP chips, which form images by way of hundreds of thousands of microscopic movable mirrors, generally take up less space than LCD-panel arrays, and this helps to minimize the overall size and weight.
Setting up the projector is a breeze. All connectors except the AC socket are conveniently located on the back panel, and the long AC cable gives you wide latitude when positioning the unit. When turned on, the projector automatically searches for a source signal.
The 2100MP, like many of the latest projectors, is designed so that, when placed flat on a table, it projects a perfectly rectangular image without any keystoning--that is, trapezoidal distortion of the image. If needed, a pop-up leg under the front panel can easily elevate the device. A rotating leg at the left rear corner offers only a small degree of tilt correction.
The 2100MP's lens sits on the left side of the machine and is only about the size of a quarter. It is recessed behind a protruding ring and seems well protected, even without its tiny lens cap. Although the lens is small, we had no problem using the projector's focusing ring, which is easily accessible.
Atop the projector sits a simple but effective control panel. The most important button--the one for power--is easy to identify by its large size. The cursor buttons for navigating the projector's onscreen menu can also be used to select image sources and adjust keystoning.
The Dell 2100MP has everything you need, and almost everything you'd want, in a projector. You get all of the basic video connections, including VGA-in, composite-video, and S-Video. One unexpected plus is a VGA-out connector, so you can see the image on your monitor as well as on the projected screen. Another treat is a component-video cable for connecting video sources, such as a DVD player, to the projector's VGA-in port. Most projector manufacturers charge an extra $100 for the necessary cable. The 2100MP features a USB port, which you can use to connect a laptop, then you can control the laptop with the projector's remote control (to advance PowerPoint slides, for example). The only big omission is a speaker (and therefore, an audio connector).
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The standard connector configuration includes a bonus: VGA-out.
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We like the small, competent remote, although it lacks a laser pointer.
The included remote control is small but includes all of the basic functions, including keystoning, freeze, and digital zoom. Most importantly, the remote gives a prominent position to the two most-often used buttons: the ones that advance or reverse PowerPoint slides. As on most other projectors, digital zoom enlarges a particular part of an image to the exclusion of other areas--and enlarges any jaggies and other distortions in the zoomed area. We only wish the remote had a laser pointer.
Although this Dell projector works best with laptops set to its native SVGA resolution of 800x600, it can also accept input formatted in any of several other resolutions. These range from VGA (640x480) to the surprisingly high SXGA+ (1,400x1,050).