Just like England winning the Ashes, Chelsea conceding a goal or Wayne Rooney getting booked without stretching the bounds of the Oxford English Dictionary, occasionally something comes along that astounds and surprises us. I’m not talking incredible technological advances and innovations here – like being able to make phone calls over the internet for free, or being able to store your entire music collection in your pocket. I’m talking PC World selling something at a price you can’t better by shopping online, a warranty on a PC that actually turns out to be worth the paper its written on, or in this case a small, compact, lightweight projector with halfway decent picture quality … that you can buy from Dell.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against Dell as a company – it makes pretty good PCs and great laptops at pretty good prices, but I’m as sceptical as the next man when it comes to a specialist company putting its labels on completely different products. It’s a bit like Heinz suddenly deciding that beans aren’t good enough and that it’s going to start selling washing up liquid. You don’t expect the results to be that great – or the dishes to come completely clean.
Dell’s rather cute-looking 3400MP, however, completely trumps the formbook. First off, this is one well-designed piece of kit. Finished in a rough matt dark silver grey plastic with a glossy black control panel and sexy blue LEDs, it wouldn’t look out of place in a sharply suited executive’s kit bag or an ultra-trendy modern living room.
It’s small, too. And though not quite as dinky as the smallest projector we’ve seen, the InFocus LP120, it’s hardly what you’d call unwieldy. Flipping open the swanky aluminium-effect foam briefcase that comes with it reveals a projector of truly tiny proportions. With its single tilt leg stowed away at the front, the 3400MP can quite comfortably be stored in a drawer or on a bookshelf at home. Stick it next to your collection of Harry Potter hardbacks or mount it on the ceiling and you’d hardly know it was there. It’s an unobtrusive alternative for big screen viewing at home.