The D538W-3D is understandably rather limited, though, when it comes to optical image adjustments. Optical zoom is restricted to 1.16x, and there’s no vertical or horizontal image shifting. This will leave most people having to resort to digital keystone correction to get the edges of their image straight – a process which effectively involves digitally distorting the native source image. But we’ve yet to see a projector at the Vivitek’s price level that offers our preferred optical image shifting solution instead.
The D538W-3D’s 3D capabilities essentially come about because it manages to fit into its diminutive form the same core technology employed by Optoma’s 3D-XL 3D projection ‘adaptor’. What this does is take in either Blu-ray’s frame-packed full HD 3D images or Sky’s side by side 3D images and convert them to DLP’s 3D-Ready format, which essentially involves converting them into a 120Hz signal divided into two, so that 60fps goes to each eye.
There is one unfortunate difference between the D538W-3D and the Optoma 3D-XL adaptor package, though, in that the D538W doesn’t ship with any 3D glasses included as standard. So you’ll have to factor in the (starting at £60 or so a pair) cost of these when deciding whether Vivitek’s projector fits in with your budgets.
The D538W-3D’s 3D pictures really aren’t bad at all. For a start, as noted during our Optoma 3D-XL review, there’s very little crosstalk ghosting noise at all over 3D pictures – a result, presumably, of the relatively high frame rate that’s being presented to each eye, in conjunction with DLP technology’s relatively fast response time.
There’s a good sense of depth to 3D images, too, and best of all the projector’s mighty brightness output proves highly effective at combating the dimming effect of DLP’s active shutter glasses, leaving 3D pictures looking punchy and colourful.
One catch with the DLP 3D-Ready system is that it currently can’t operate beyond a resolution of 720p. And this fact does result in Blu-ray pictures looking markedly less detailed and sharp than those you would see from a full-HD 3D projector. On the upside, the D538W-3D does seem more at home with Sky’s reduced-resolution side by side 3D broadcasts, which are probably a more ‘comfortable’ fit with the projector’s 3D conversion processing than Blu-ray’s full HD 3D streams.
Other issues with the D538W-3D’s 3D images find them feeling just a touch flickery, and sometimes pushing the depth too hard, so that during shots containing lots of depth the 3D effect can become a little tiring. But crucially none of these issues prevent the D538W-3D from being a very watchable bit of 3D family fun.
So far we’ve talked about the projector’s reproduction of 3D sources. But it also carries a 2D to 3D converter. And while this isn’t as consistently accurate with its calculation of relative depths within a converted image as the best 2D-3D converters we’ve seen, its results are mostly clean and contain a little more depth than the ‘ultra-safe’ conversion systems we commonly see. So while it’s a feature we’re not sure we’d ever personally use, if you do fancy EastEnders in 3D, then you do so on the D538W-3D without struggling to see the 3D effect or getting a headache.