Very small and light; Fast warm-up and cooldown times; Uses same AC adapter as Dell laptops
Requires dark environment; Difficult to press buttons on projector's top panel; Nonstandard native resolution
This Lilliputian projector has the brightest LED in its class yet.
In June 2005 Mitsubishi introduced the first projector to use LEDs as a light source. This groundbreaking product was so efficient that it could run on its own battery. Unfortunately it was also barely brighter than a lit match. Now almost four years after that first LED projector appeared, here is one that is bright enough for use in special situations. The $499 Dell M109S may not be the most versatile ultraportable projector on the market--nor is it nearly as tiny as so-called pico projectors from 3M and Optoma--but it's impressive to see how much Dell has packed into such a small package.
The Dell M109S, at 4.1 x 3.6 x 1.5 inches, is a small rectangular box reminiscent of jewelry-store watch boxes. The glossy black plastic exterior is interrupted by the barest minimum of controls and connectors. On the top panel is a knurled ring for focusing and a set of nine membrane buttons for accessing the projector's on-screen menu. The back panel reveals a single, small, narrow connector. A hydra-like adapter cable links this connector to an AC power outlet, a laptop VGA connector, and a composite video cable.
Interestingly, the M109S uses the same AC adapter as Dell's current laptops. This means if you have a Dell notebook, you can leave the projector's AC adapter at home and run the projector from your notebook's adapter while the laptop runs on battery.
LED Light Performance
LED projectors have had a spotty reputation in our lab. Some were so dim that they didn't even register on our brightness meters. The M109S, by contrast, was a pleasure to test. In fact, this model achieved the rare distinction of actually being brighter than advertised, checking in at 59 lumens--almost 20 percent better than claimed. But as usual for all projectors, our checkerboard contrast test showed results that were lower than claimed. We saw a contrast ratio of only 125:1, which is lower than most of the models we've tested, but not bad for a projector of this petite size.
LED lamps are so efficient that they produce little heat, and up to now, LED projectors did not require a cooling fan. But because this model is approximately twice as bright as previous LED projectors, the M109S does require a cooling fan. This fan is loud enough to be noticeable without being objectionable, and the cooldown time is a remarkably short 17 seconds.
We doubt the Dell M109S projector will put a crimp in sales of larger and significantly brighter models, but weighing less than 2 pounds even with its power adapter it could be very successful in ultra-mobile applications. We see it linking nicely with, say, an Apple iPod, for impromptu presentations and movie showings. At $499, the M109S is relatively expensive considering its limited luminosity, but its small size marks a big step forward for ultraportable projectors.
|Projector Resolution||858 x 600|
|Contrast Ratio||Less than 500:1|
|Brightness||Less than 2000 Lumens|
|Supported Formats||NTSC 4.43|
|Image Engine||0.45-inch DLP DMD Type Y chip|
|Cool Down Time||17 seconds|
|Input Terminals||Composite Video|
|Size||4.1 x 3.6 x 1.5 inches|
|Weight||(projector/travel): 0.8 pounds/1.8 pounds|