Dell is renowned for products that pair good quality and performance with a lower price than the competition's. Its new 5100MP business projector is no exception. It has excellent brightness and contrast, you can control it over a LAN, and it's half the size of comparable projectors. It falls short of a home run, however, lagging on color performance and lacking the ability to grab images from a network. Still, at $3,499, it's a good buy for offices on a budget.
Compared to other network-ready projectors, the 5100MP is small and light, weighing 8.2 pounds and measuring a petite 13.0 by 10.3 by 4.5 inches; it's less than half the size of the Canon LV-7565 or the Sanyo PLC-XP56. The Dell's gray-and-black plastic case feels sturdy enough to withstand some travel. Inside is Texas Instruments' latest digital light processing (DLP) engine, which uses a 0.95-inch projection chip. Capable of SXGA+ resolution, it delivers more-detailed images than other projectors but maxes out at a 25-foot-diagonal image--much smaller than the 33-foot images other network-ready projectors can produce.
With a single adjustable leg in the front and a pair in the rear, the 5100MP is easy to set up. The onscreen menu (OSM) controls are easy to navigate, and the projector also has dedicated buttons for adjusting the brightness and the volume. The menu controls everything from color to audio. Though we really like the built-in test pattern for focusing, the 5100MP lacks motorized focus, lens tilt, and zoom--features that other, more expensive networked projectors, such as the Sanyo PLC-XP56, have. The included remote can control all of the OSM's features and doubles as a mouse when the projector is connected to a laptop via USB.
Despite its diminutive dimensions, the 5100MP provides a slew of features, including digital, analog, S-Video, composite-video, and component-video ports and BNC connections. It even has the latest high-definition HDMI connector and plays decent audio through its two 2-watt stereo speakers. The 5100MP comes with all important cables, but not a travel case--just a dust cover.