To some extent the D538W-3D is a better-than-expected 2D performer too. Colours look punchy and surprisingly credible in tone provided you’ve set the Gamma level correctly for your source type - and the colour management system is always on hand if you feel the colour balance isn’t quite right in any particular area. The projector’s extreme brightness - even when using its Movie picture preset - also helps colours look vivid and attention-grabbing. There's some low-level rainbow effect if you flit your eyes over an image containing a mix of bright and dark content, but it's hardly ever a problem if you just watch something normally.
Motion is predictably a little juddery, but certainly not disastrously so, and sharpness levels are good considering this isn’t a full-HD projector.
The D538W-3D’s high brightness, meanwhile, enhances its ‘casual use’ credentials by enabling images to be watched comfortably even in high levels of ambient light. However, the high brightness also leads us to the main weakness of the D538W-3D’s pictures: their lack of contrast.
The projector really is not capable of reproducing anything like a true black colour - especially when you don't have 3D glasses on. Instead, in a darkened room you just get a milky grey over anything that should look black. Darn.
The only good news where dark scenes are concerned is that the general greyness doesn’t preclude the projector from reproducing a healthy amount of shadow detail.
If you were paying attention earlier, you’ll have noticed that we mentioned the presence of audio inputs on the D538W-3D. For in keeping with its multi-purpose ‘casual home’ or education/business credentials, it carries a built in mono speaker boasting a whole 2W - count ‘em - of audio power.
Needless to say, this speaker can’t produce a soundstage that’s in any way loud, rich or detailed enough to satisfy when watching a movie in any even fractionally serious way. But we understand the reasons why the speaker needs to be there, and at least the sound it produces is quite clear within the confines of its strict volume limitations. It does struggle at times to make itself heard above the slightly potent noise of the projector’s cooling fans, though.
AV enthusiasts are definitely not going to like the D538W-3D. Its 3D performance reduces the resolution of 3D Blu-rays, and its 2D pictures are severely short of contrast - or, to be more precise, black level response.
But saying AV enthusiasts won’t like the D538W-3D is like saying a vegetarian won’t like a rare beef steak. The two things just don’t go together. Rather the D538W-3D is aimed at people after a highly affordable, exceptionally compact, multi-purpose device that’s ready to rock any time and anywhere and delivers surprisingly enjoyable 3D pictures - plus bright-room-friendly 2D pictures - without the need for any external electronics. And that’s a target market it actually satisfies rather well.