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Vivitek D538W-3D - 2D Picture Quality

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


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.

Vivitek D538W-3D

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.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Image Quality 7
  • Value 8


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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