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Dell M109S


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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.


With no remote control, the membrane buttons on the M109S are the only ways to control the projector. These buttons were hard to use: with no physical feedback, it is far too easy to press a button too lightly (for no response) or too heavily (for unwanted responses in underlying menus). For example, we accidentally changed the language to German, and it was only by the help of an old college German I class that we could navigate back to English. It should be noted that this projector has so few options that most users will never need to access the menu.

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