- 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
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.
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.