Dell 1610HD DLP Multimedia Projector Review

Dell 1610HD Projector Highlights

  • Lightweight – 5.3 lbs.
  • Very Good Brightness – 3500 lumens
  • Internet-based network monitoring and control
  • 8-watt built-in speaker provides usable sound levels
  • USB control of presentations on a PC via the remote
  • Closed captioning

Dell 1610HD Projector Overview

The Dell 1610HD projector is a portable WXGA (1280 X 800), 3-D ready, DLP multimedia projector that is equally adept in the classroom or conference room.  It provides a great combination of high brightness and a sharp picture, all at a price below $1000.

While it incorporates the usual features for a projector in this class (like wired network control and monitoring, auto adjustment and lightweight), the 1610HD goes a step further than some of the competition by including an HDMI input (a welcome sight in a sub-$1000 multimedia projector), USB and RS-232 remote control and a handy carrying bag.

The Dell 1610HD uses a Texas Instruments DarkChip3 DLP chip, which only a few years ago was the state-of-the-art for home theater projectors.  This allows for a decent contrast ratio (2100:1) and black level that makes for acceptable movie viewing if desired.

The 1610HD is very portable, easy to setup and comes with Dell’s 2-year Advanced Exchange Warranty to provide you with a replacement if there’s a problem with the projector.  As you will see in the review to follow, the Dell 1610HD performs well in every category and is a very good value for its price.


Brightness

The 1610HD is rated at 3500 lumens.  Using the Normal lamp setting (which is the higher of the two available), in Bright image mode (the brightest), we measured 3450 lumens at mid-zoom range.  As so many multimedia projectors fail to come close to their rated lumen output, this is excellent performance.  As is typically the case with a 1.2X zoom, the output showed little variation throughout the zoom range.  At full wide zoom (still in Bright mode), we got 3513 lumens and only at full telephoto zoom did it drop more significantly to 3283 lumens.  Nonetheless, you need not worry about placement when you’re only talking about a few hundred lumens through the entire zoom range.


Dell 1610HD Projector: Pros

  • Good color rendition in all but brightest mode
  • Very good readability with native resolution or higher
  • Very high brightness – almost 3500 lumens
  • Lightweight – 5.3 lbs.
  • No dust filters requiring cleaning or replacement
  • Good support via its Advanced Exchange warranty
  • Ability to monitor and adjust most projector functions via a networked computer

Dell 1610HD Projector: Cons

  • No instant shut off
  • On-projector controls difficult to use
  • Limited zoom range
  • Lamp replacement requires dismounting if ceiling mounted
  • No network display capability or wireless networking

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Epson Powerlite Pro G6900WU Business Projector Review

The POWERLITE PRO G6900WU  is designed to operate in many environments, from traditional office, to sports bars, auditoriums, or even your home “media” room.

This review looks at the Powerlite Pro G6900WU as a business projector. A separate review focuses on its almost identical twin, the Pro Cinema G6900WU, sold by the Epson home theater dealer folks, for use in media and living rooms.  This is a very bright projector, one that is loaded with features.

สินค้า Projector EPSON EB-G6900WU

Powerlite Pro G6900WU – Overview

The G6900WU is the flagship projector in Epson’s G series, which could be described as mid-size commercial projectors.  The fleet of G projectors consists of 2 XGA resolution projectors, a single WXGA projector, and four WUXGA projectors.  Brightness ranges from 4500 to 7000 lumens.

I say commercial projector because the Powerlite Pro G6900WU is extremely well endowed, starting with a wide range of inputs, including longer range HDBaseT for several hundred feet of CAT5 or CAT6 range to the source, WDI and more.

There’s plenty to cover on the Special Features pages, but first, let’s consider the range of uses for the G6900WU.

With 6000 lumens, and a choice of six interchangeable lenses, lots of lens shift and the HDBaseT, this makes a first class, medium-high power rental and staging projector.  It’s also a very good size for a great many churches and other houses of worship.  Small and medium sized auditoriums are perfect, as well as multi-purpose rooms in schools.

Keep in mind though, not everyone needs WUXGA and the additional expense that comes with it.  Below you’ll find a chart showing all the G series projectors, by resolution (and brightness).

At the university level, especially in the sciences, engineering, architecture, etc., there is demand for WUXGA projectors, and this one can easily fill a large college classroom with 200-400+ students.

Digital Signage is another area this Epson projector would be very suitable for.

Museums too, for both, there’s edge blending built in, and the ability to project onto curved walls, etc.

The projector can work on angles, sideways, inverted, it can point down, or perhaps 30 degrees off vertical, essentially handling just about any installation.   The 6900WU and it’s brethren are also well suited to hang in sports bars.


Powerlite Pro G6900WU Highlights

  • Claims 6000 color and white lumens for superior color
  • Respectable contrast for a business class projector
  • 6 interchangeable, quick release lenses:  Standard zoom, rear, wide angle, medium throw zoom 1 and 2, and long throw zoom
  • HDBaseT for running long (HDMI) wiring over CAT5, CAT6, plus SDI for live video streaming
  • HDMI and DisplayPort
  • Advanced Networking features, notifications, etc.
  • Closed captioning
  • 360 degree operation – point the projector up, down, certain angles…
  • Healthy amount of vertical and horizontal lens shift
  • Multi-PC – can display up to four computer screens simultaneously
  • Low power consumption for a projector this bright (only a 380 watt lamp)
  • Very green design, packaging
  • Suitable for a wide range of venues requiring a very bright projector
  • DICOM Presentation capable (for medical image presentations)
  • Nine built in test patterns
  • 10,000 hour electrostatic filter
  • Split Screen
  • Advanced Edge Blending
  • Great (3 year) Warranty and Support programs

HDBaseT Support

HDBaseT, also known as HDBT, is a quickly catching on protocol for delivering HD resolution information over long distances (over 200 feet) use CAT5 or CAT6 cables, rather, than, for example, very expensive HDMI cables which aren’t designed to run such long  lengths.

Epson also offers a booster transmitter for the HDBaseT solution, as seen in this photo.

What info does the CAT 5 or CAT 6 cable carry?  In addition to HDMI (video and audio), it will transmit LAN (networking) info and also RS232 for command and control to a room control system.  Overall, a very elegant solution for short, medium and long distances between projector and sources, control units, etc.


SDI

SDI allows for full speed video streaming of HD source material.  This can be a real plus in some commercial environments.  One example might be a direct internet feed of a corporate video or presentation, streamed directly without a computer in the middle to handle processing.

In other words, you could have a HD camcorder, let’s say a professional one, set up filming the speaker of an event, run the SDI up to 300 feet, to a projector that directly projects the image on  to a screen so that the audience can better see.   That works for corporate presentations, houses of worship, and many other places where a live feed needs to be fed to a large display.

Perhaps a sports bar could feed a sporting event directly from the web, rather than via a satellite box.  We are not experts on the use of SDI, nor have tested it, however, SDI is considered a viable, reliable solution.  Of the seven G series projectors, this G6900WU is the only one to offer SDI.


HDMI and Display Port

In this day and age, we expect virtually every projector to offer HDMI (or DVI), however Display Port is also catching on.  Display Port apparently moves data in packets, much like the internet.  More to the point it is an alternative high resolution interfacing solution.   My understanding is that Display Port is gaining traction in schools (the largest projector market), and elsewhere.

The good news, is that the Powerlite Pro G6900WU offers both a Display Port, and an HDMI port.

The bad news, is that this Epson offers only one HDMI input.   I understand a smart adapter can convert so you can put an HDMI source into Display Port, but how hard would it have been to have a second HDMI connector sharing a single HDMI circuit, as so many projectors do, including many less expensive Epson business / education projectors.

More good news:  The “missing” extra HDMI connector is one of the “big” items on my Con’s list for this projector.   Well, if I can’t find anything worse than that, it must be an otherwise truly well thought out projector!  (My conclusion!)


G6900WU – Stacking Projectors and Passive 3D

Let’s start with stacking.  Virtually every projector setup (where the projectors have adjustable lens shift), can almost double its brightness when two projectors are properly stacked, instead of using just one.  That makes a stacked pair of these Epson projectors roughly 12,000 lumens claimed. Stacking is a plus for rental and staging, The staging company can use just one projector when  its brightness is enough, or when needed, double up, gaining reliability and brightness.

3D is not something a G6900WU does, out of the box.  Rather, you stack two of these projectors together, and you install a different polarizing filter in front of each, and use those with 3D content, and passive glasses.  (Don’t forget, passive 3D needs a polarized screen.)

This approach is perfect for the larger venues that the G6900WU is likely to end up in.   Doing active glasses 3D would be prohibitively expensive, say, in a university classroom with 300 students, whereas stacking two allows you to instead use very low cost passive glasses (just a few dollars a pair at most).  The issues and savings are similar to 3D movie theaters which in the US, are all passive 3D.  Even with the loss of brightness when viewing 3D, a pair of 6000 lumen projectors can produce 3D that’s nicely bright on some seriously large screens!


Interchangeable Lenses for the G6900WUNL

When it’s time to purchase, you can order the G6900WU projector (list price $6499) which includes the standard zoom lens, or you can order the G6900WUNL for $6199.  The other difference, besides $300, is that the NL stands for no lens. So, if you want a G6900 equipped with one of the other five lenses – a fixed very short throw (for rear projection), a short throw zoom, different medium throw zooms, and one long throw zoom lens for this Epson, you would order the NL version. Epson zoom lenses retail from about $1399 to $2899.  Those are reasonable prices for interchangeable lenses for commercial projectors of this capability.  Lenses on significantly more powerful projectors tend to cost a good deal more.


Color Lumens and White Lumens

In the image above, the projected image on the left is from a 3LCD projector (that just happens to be a much less expensive Epson), the one on the right, from a single chip DLP projector (a Mitsubishi).  Both projectors were in their brightest modes).  No wonder that 3LCD and LCoS projector makers love to pick on single chip DLP projectors that use color wheels, especially those with clear slices on the color wheels.  Why is this important?  Well, if you don’t have as many color lumens as white lumens, things can never be fully right.

Short version is that Epsons including this one, offer an equal amount of color and white lumens, while some projectors offer a lot of white, but can’t muster up as much color.  For openers, that makes colors harder to see if there’s ambient light.

As a result, many DLP projectors with such color wheels measure lots of white lumens in their brightest modes, but typically have a real problem producing a decent red or yellow in those brightest modes.  Over the years, even before the new Color Lumens standard was established in 2012, we had shown and discussed the these differences in many reviews, going back about a decade.

Often with projectors without lots of color lumens, you have to surrender as much as 50% of total brightness to end up with reasonably good reds and yellows.   But those whites are bright.  Of course, 3LCD and LCoS projectors don’t put their best colors up, in brightest mode, but most will have some good looking color, just 10-15% below maximum brightness.

One result, therefore, of not as many color lumens, is that in a picture (projector in bright modes) let’s say there’s a bright scene, and a balloon that’s supposed to be almost pure red in color.  With low color lumens, the balloon would definitely not appear to be as bright as it should, and likely not as pure red.  For those interested, we created a video to demonstrate the color vs white lumen issue (the image above is from that video), so for those interested.

Although we only measured color lumens for our video and a few other times, this Epson does have good, saturated color in all of its modes.  The brightest mode (Dynamic)  is the least accurate in terms of color, but still not bad at all, capable of respectable reds and yellows, just a bit too much green.  The other color modes, all more accurate/better balanced, are within 20% or so of the brightness of Dynamic mode.


Split Screen Viewing on the G6900WU

The G6900 is very capable at split screen viewing.  It allows for two equal sized images to be placed side by side, using computer or video content.  As is typical, not all combinations of inputs will work, but there’s several good combinations that do.

Both screens are “live”, that is you can, for example run videos in both simultaneously.  We’ve seen some projectors in the past that could put up one active window, and one frozen one.  That’s not near as capable.  The Epson’s split screen works very nicely.  Both images can be the same size, or one image can be roughly twice the size of the other.  You can switch which image is on which side, change which audio is used, or exit from the Menu button once you are in the Split Screen mode (which happens when you hit the Split Screen button on the remote).

The only issue with the Split Screen viewing, is that it can take some time. Typically it seems to take 6-12 seconds to do it’s split screen thing, from the time you press the button on the G6900WU.   I only tried feeding two sources, one was HDMI, and the other a standard computer “VGA” (analog), the HDMI was 1080i, while the VGA was WUXGA, the max output from my MacBook Pro.   Sometimes it takes a while.   On one or two occasions, when I tried to switch the left side to the right side, I got a lot of flashing of the VGA, source, and it still wouldn’t stabilize after 30 seconds.  But, I started all over, and the next time, it grabbed it correctly in about 10 seconds.  So, it works well enough, once you have your two sources set up, but can have a bit of a problem locking on, on occasion, so you probably don’t want to be going in and out of Split Screen a lot, during a presentations if this is typical.  Only the VGA gave me problems, the HDMI had not issues..


DICOM Presenting

DICOM is a standard for viewing medical images such as CAT-scans, MRIs, X-rays, PET-scans etc.  A number of commercial projectors out there today do support DICOM Simulation, which means they are rated to be able to project such images at a quality level suitable for presentations and instructions.

The bottom line is that the G6900WU is more than suitable for medical presentations by all types of radiologists, neurologists, and so on, be the presentation for other doctors, or for patients.  Epson certainly isn’t the only player with DICOM abilities.  Canon, for one has been offering DICOM on a number of projectors for years.  Today a small but noteworthy portion of the over $3000 projectors seem to offer it.  That’s a lot more than a year or two ago.


10,000 Hour Electrostatic Filter

Epson uses an electrostatic filter on the G series projectors.  The 10,000 life is, of course, exceptionally long.  Even in Eco mode, this projector claims 4000 lamp life, so we’re talking about only changing the filter every two lamp changes or longer.

That should keep the cost of operation under control. And while no filter at all, is even simpler, if you’ve ever looked inside an old PC to see “inches” of dust and dirt covering everything inside, you can appreciate that no filter at all, can’t be a good thing, as the more such dust that exists, the hotter the device is likely to operate.

Thus, a long life filter that easily outlasts the lamps, makes really good sense.


Edge Blending

With edge blending, you can stitch the images of multiple G series Epson projectors together to create extremely wide images, such as a 120 degree curved surface.  Or you might have something to display on a wall that works best at 5 feet tall, and 20 feet wide.

Edge blending done properly provides a seamless transition from one projector to the next, so you can’t tell where one projected image stops and the next one begins.   To really pull that off, of course, you also need the color between the projectors to also be close to identical.  Epson has engineered a Multi-Projector color mode, however, we’ve had no ability to try such things, as we only have one projector.

In the old days – 4-5 years ago, to do edge blending you would buy an external processor, and spend a lot of money on it, more than most of these G series projectors sell for.  Today, even the least expensive of the Epson G series projectors have edge blending built in, but this G6900WU, the flagship of the series, is more advanced than the others.  Having edge blending integrated into the projector adds flexibility for digital signage usage, as well as specialty uses such as museums, which in particular seem to love edge blended projections onto curved walls,  even around corners.

Edge blending is just one more feature that Epson has in the series to make sure there just aren’t too many things that this projector can’t do.


Control Panel

The G6900WU Control Panel is located on the back of the projector, to the right of all the inputs. It is a pretty standard affair.  (I should mention that the usual indicator lights that on most projectors are found by the panel, are in this case on the top front of the projector.)

Starting from the left is the power switch – once for on, twice to turn off.  Next over is the Source Search button, and then comes the four arrows in a diamond layout for navigation.  The Enter button is in the middle of the arrow keys, while the Menu, and the Escape buttons are respectively to the right and left of the up arrow.

Each of the arrows has another function when you are not in the menu system.  Left arrow brings up the Control Panel lock menu, where you can lock out use of the panel.  The up arrow brings up the keystone correction menu, while the right arrow doubles as the A/V Mute.  The down arrow brings up the first of 9 test patterns built into the projector (a black and white checkerboard pattern).

I can see where having the control panel right next to the connectors for all the inputs and networking would be a real advantage during installation, and especially, though, for rental and staging.


G6900WU Remote Control

Epson’s remote control for the G series is a typically good sized remote, black finish, white buttons and a reasonable backlight that’s amber.  I might complain that the backlight could be a touch brighter, but with something approaching 6000 lumens under the hood, the G6900WU isn’t likely to be spending much time presenting in pitch black rooms.

Let’s run through all the menu buttons.  With our new site, we haven’t figured out how to show the remote at near full size, with the descriptive text along side.  So your stuck with clicking on the large image to get a good look at the remote, but having to close that window to read the notes.  Here goes:

From the top, the left most button is power on. Press once.  Next to it, is a smaller red button which is power down, and also a one press only.  To their right is the backlight button.  The backlight stays on for roughly 15 seconds, fading to black at the end.

Below the backlight button is Source Search, which will look through all the inputs and lock onto the first active source.  For those in a hurry, the next three rows of three buttons each, take you directly to nine difference sources.  Below that section are two more row of three, this group are direct buttons to menu features:  Auto (sync – for computers), Aspect ratio, Color Mode, Test Patterns, Freeze (image), and the AV Mute.  There are, I should note, 9 test patterns, providing a wide range of usable ones for alignment, color, more.

The next section is navigation.  The round navigation layout has the four arrow keys, with Enter in the center.  The buttons for navigation are above to the left (Menu) and right (Escape).

Unlike the arrows on the control panel on the G6900WU, the arrows do not have separate functions on the remote, when not in the menus.

The two buttons below the navigation are Split Screen (left) and Default.  When in Split Screen, hitting Menu brings up options to switch screens, change sources, choose the audio and Exit back to single screen mode.

The next section consists of three rocker switches:  Page (up/down) for remote “mousing”, Volume up/down (no speakers, but controls the volume going out the audio output),  The right rocker is digital zoom which allows you to zoom in to any section of the screen to a magnification of 4X which means you are filling your screen, with 1/16th of the original image size.

You’d think we’d be done by now, but there are three definable User areas.  Default settings have User 1 taking you to the Lamp power menu, User 2 to Keystone correction, and the right button brings up Info.

And there’s more.  Below those,  are a full numeric keyboard, for passwords, and setting ID (such as setting up networking)  Finally at the bottom right is the interactive HELP button which provides four primary questions and takes you directly to adjusting those items.  Example:  The Image is Distorted, which if you proceed takes you to Geometric Correction, so you can adjust immediately instead of hunting down the same control by navigating the menus.

That’s it.  Good remote, very good range.  25 feet was no problem.  Note also that this remote has a hard wire jack so that you can run a long cable from remote to projector, should the projector be placed where the IR remote signal won’t reach it (rear projection is typical for that, but also long throw applications.  For example, a projector might be mounted in a church, 100 feet from the screen, and well beyond the reach of the remote if held by someone up by the screen.  Instead, run the cable, then, no problem!


Lens Shift

The G6900WU has 67 percent vertical lens shift.  If the screen is 50 inches high (approximately a 100″ diagonal screen), then 67% is 33.5 inches.  Thus the range of placement of the projector can be anywhere from 8.35 inches above the top of the screen surface to 8.35 inches below the bottom of the screen.  The math is based on starting at the center of the screen, so it’s 33.5 inches of range (up or down) which minus 25 inches – from the center of the screen to the top or bottom, gives you that 8.35 inches.

Horizontal lens shift is 30%.  As is standard, vertical and horizontal lens shift affect each other’s range.  The more horizontal shift you use, the less vertical is left, and vice versa.


Using a Blu-ray – or DVD Player – in your Home Theater Projector: Considerations

First of all, all Blu-ray (or DVD) players are not created equal. That’s why you can buy DVD players as cheap as $25 and  Blu-ray projectors from $70 to many hundreds of dollars.

Seriously though, in this day and age, you just don’t want to be feeding any home projector a DVD when there’s Blu-ray out there.  A good Blu-ray player will also make your old DVD’s look better than your old DVD player.

Of course Blu-ray is a whole major league step above DVD in terms of resolution (about 5x as high resolution in terms of the number of pixels)  Picture quality of Blu-ray is also dramatically better.   You can get a really good Blu-ray player from under $100 with $250 dollars. Almost all but the least expensive Blu-ray players are able to update themselves using your wireless network   Blu-ray itself is an evolving standard, with 3D added a few years ago, and 4K is the new thing.  Note that the most popular Blu-ray player out there is Sony’s legendary PS3 gaming console, now being replaced by the PS4.  Almost all Blu-ray and DVD players will offer you a choice of outputting an interlaced signal, or a progressive scan signal. Progressive scan is a better image, but more on that later.  Let’s just say that if you have a projector you want a Blu-ray player.  1920×1080 resolution sure beats the whatever, out of 853×480.  That’s a big difference on a 40 inch LCDTV on a 110″ projector the difference in resolution is nothing short of massive.

So let’s stick to Blu-ray players.  Years ago for highest quality everyone used Component video outputs, but HDMI has become the standard since about 2007.

Component video is essentially analog with the potential problems and artifacts that analog brings.  Much better is all digital HDMI although the source material may itself (a movie ), may have started out as analog (film).

Quicktip: A digital cable – be it HDMI or DVI – will perform flawlessly, or will be obviously be very bad.   Long distances are problematic for HDMI but these days there are many solutions if you need to run HDMI 30 or even 80 feet.  (In the old days about 20 feet was the maximum.)  Some HDMI cables claim high throughput and long distances, but don’t deliver.  I’ve bought cables claiming they could do 3D at 30 feet, that can’t even do a clean 2D at that distance.

HDMI carries audio, but other than lower cost home entertainment projectors such as Epson’s Home Cinema 2030 or Viewsonic’s PJD7820HD, don’t expect more expensive home projectors to have speakers.  Thus, image goes over HDMI to your projector while sound gets to you sound system either by using an AV Receiver that handles your switching, or by feeding the digital audio directly to your sound system from your HDMI sources like Blu-ray players and satellite boxes.

Expect to start seeing a number of new Blu-ray players start offering upscaling to, and the ability to output the original source as upscaled 4K.  And a number true 4K Blu-ray players will be available in 2014.  Audio from your Blu-ray player comes in basic stereo outputs plus coaxial and optical. For surround sound you do need coaxial or optical. Optical is the better way to go, so look for it on the Blu-ray player you select, if you have a need to separate audio for video. That’s so typical for projector users – HDMI delivers the image to the projector, while some other solution needs to deliver the audio to your AV receiver or other sound system.   (With a Plasma or LCDTV they have audio built in, so unless you are by-passing those internal speakers, you can just deliver the audio over the HDMI cable.)

With all these choices – what works best?

  • Interlaced or Progressive output
  • Digital (HDMI / DVI) or Component video
  • 1080p output, upscaled 1080p to “4K”, or true 4K content?

INTERLACED OR PROGRESSIVE OUTPUT

If available, you want progressive output – that is:  1080p is better (really higher  resolution) than 1080i.  Almost all cable and satellite are 1080i maximum but we are starting to see some 1080p coming that way.

DIGITAL OR COMPONENT VIDEO

Unless there’s a compelling reason, go digital (HDMI) over Component.  But, for example if you wired your house for component video 5-10 years ago, know that you can get essentially the same quality, if done well.

1080P AND HIGHER RESOLUTION – 4K IS ON THE WAY

The HDMI 2.0 standard with 4K resolution support as of this writing, isn’t quite out yet.  Nor are any 4K Blu-Ray discs, but we are getting close, 2014 is the year that 4K starts meaning something.  Everything supporting 4K will presume digital as the primary, more ideal solution.

I’ve reviewed the few 4K projectors out there (both Sony), and, Wow!  True 4K on a 100 inch or larger screen is a huge improvement.  Really good upscaling gets you only part way there, but far from all the way.  Feed it the best signal, and that will be digital.  But start saving, you’ll want a 4K projector down the road when they are affordable.


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