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Vivitek D538W-3D review

John Archer



Our Score



  • Very cheap for a one-box 3D projector
  • Compact design
  • 3D picture quality better than expected


  • Blu-ray 3D pictures lose resolution
  • Poor black level response
  • Runs a bit noisily

Review Price £682.80

Key Features: Integrated 3D playback; Single-chip DLP design; 720p native resolution; Rapid on/off feature; 3200 Lumens light output

Manufacturer: Vivitek

Vivitek’s D538W-3D is a quite startling bit of kit that we just didn’t see coming. We thought we’d got the whole 3D projection situation firmly locked down in our minds; namely that you have full-HD 3D projectors relatively high up the projection tree, starting (currently) at around £3,000, while at the bottom end of the projection market you have 3D-Ready projectors capable of producing reduced-resolution 3D images via an external 3D adaptor such as Optoma’s 3D-XL.

The D538W-3D, though, delivers an integrated, single-box, HD-Ready 3D projection solution that costs less than £700 - including VAT. And it does so from a box that measures just 261(w) x 78(h) x 190(d)mm despite claiming to pump out a maximum brightness of 3200 Lumens. This is all pretty remarkable stuff - and raises real hopes that this could be one of those much-beloved devices that you can buy as a business expense but also take home at weekends!

Vivitek underlines the D538W-3D’s portability by supplying a felt carry case for free, and it wears its diminutive dimensions passably well, thanks in particular to its uniformly white colour scheme. The finish is a bit plasticky, and some people might not like the numerous grilles on each of the projector’s sides. But personally we didn’t find that these grilles detracted from the aesthetic too badly, and actually they raised hope that the projector might be able to cope with its extremely high 3200 lumens of claimed brightness without running either too hot or too noisily.

Vivitek D538W-3D

Joining the ultra-high brightness figure on the D538W-3D’s spec sheet is a respectable claimed contrast ratio of 3,000:1 - though experience suggests that when you have a brightness figure that’s close to or even higher than a contrast ratio figure, you often end up with a picture that’s severely lacking in black level. Hopefully this won’t prove to be the case with the D538W-3D.

The D538W-3D’s connections include a single HDMI socket, the inevitable D-Sub PC port, a composite video input, an S-Video input, a mini-jack audio input, an RCA stereo audio input, and an RS-232 control port. The HDMI port is apparently only a v1.3 one rather than the v1.4 one we might have expected.

It’s a pity, perhaps, that such a potentially handy education/business projector doesn’t carry any USB ports for direct playback of presentations or files from USB sticks, but otherwise it covers the key bases.

Heading into its onscreen menus, it proves to be far from the feature-lite effort we’d expected for its money. There’s a decent colour management system for a start, through which you can adjust the hue, saturation and gain of the red, green, blue, cyan, magenta and yellow colour elements. You’re also provided with a series of gamma presets helpfully named in accordance with the source they’re designed to suit (PC, MAC, Video etc).

We got set up mileage out of the unusual way the D538W-3D allows you to adjust separately the projector’s lamp mode (between eco and normal settings) and fan speed (between normal and high) too.

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July 26, 2011, 7:21 pm


Thanks for posting this review!

I have recently purchased this one and having difficulties getting the 3D effect from the 3D blue ray discs. I am using PS3 ,optoma DLP link glasses and able to play 3D movies downloaded from Sony's playstation store without any issue and I see good 3D effects (but they are 720p 3D and not 1080p 3D). I tried my friend's 3D blue ray player too but no 3D. I am wondering if I got the bad product or is there any specific setting on a projector or something else.



July 28, 2011, 4:25 pm

did you solve this problem?,someone else has a similar problem.


July 31, 2011, 7:49 pm

No, I have reported this issue to Vivitek(USA), haven't heard back from them yet.


August 3, 2011, 8:17 am

Vivitek tech support replied back saying that this does projector does not support 1080p 3D. I wonder how this reviewer got the 1080p 3D working and can compare it with Optoma's 3D-xl adapter which converts 1080p 3D to 720p 3D.

John Archer

August 9, 2011, 4:26 pm

Hi swa01

Sorry about the delayed response to you; after reading your comments we actually took the review down for a while so that we could get into exploring your issues.

I knew that the model I tested originally had worked with Blu-rays, but when I read your comment that Vivitek's own tech support didn't think that it did, I got concerned that maybe I'd had an early sample that didn't have the same spec as the final released versions.

Vivitek Europe immediately assured me that this was not the case, but I ordered a new projector in anyway, just so I could do a paranoid check for myself.

I've done that this morning, and can confirm that the D538W does play 1080p/24 Blu-rays straight from my Samsung Blu-ray player.

Obviously, as I state in my original review, the projector only has a native 720p resolution, so although it will play 1080p Blu-rays in 3D, the final output resolution is only 720p. So you don't get the full resolution on screen from a full HD 3D Blu-ray.

Apologies if you didn't pick this up from my review, but I do make it pretty clear I think, to the point where I include it as a 'Con' in the pros and cons section.

While the D538W reduces 1080p sources to 720p, though, it certainly CAN actually receive and handle 3D visuals from 1080p Blu-rays in ordinary Blu-ray players. So unless there are regional differences between the American and European versions of the D538W (I note that you are in America), the fact that you're not able to get your D538W to work with 3D must mean you're experiencing some technical problems with your particular sample or glasses.

If you contact us directly via Andrew's email address available through the Contact Us link at the bottom of the page, I will ensure that your details are passed on to someone technical at Vivitek who will be able to help get to the bottom of your problems.

John Archer


August 9, 2011, 5:44 pm

>>but when I read your comment that Vivitek's own tech support didn't think that it did

Sounds like a classic double meaning of 1080p, the problem is 1080p support could mean, does it support 1080p native playback, or does it support 1080p decoding. Vivitek's tech support must have thought the prior.


August 10, 2011, 8:11 pm

Hi John,

Thank you for reply.

Yes, it is a native 720p and downgrades 1080 to 720p. But this does not convert 1080p(3D) to 720p(3D) as the Optoma 3D-XL (at least US version which I have). I have had tried my friend's Samsung 3D blu-ray player too, but it did not work. There is definitely no issues with the glasses as they work fine with 720p(3D) contents. May be its the European version only that works for 1080p(3D). Its a good projector, I have been using it for a month now, my only gripe is that this 1080p(3D) incompatibility(for US version) was/is not "Clearly" mentioned anywhere.



October 14, 2011, 8:25 am

I just got this projector, noticed when zoom in more than 3/4 to full zoom the projector goes out of focus, very incovinient since I have a 100" screen and cant fill it up. About the 3d I haven't got my glasses but when I get them will be too late I allready requested an RMA. I prefer to pay the extra dollar for a projector that won't go out of filling my 100" screen.

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