Many of today's business/education projectors try to be slim and svelte, blending beautifully into the background, even if their hardware capabilities fall considerably short of impressing. The W316, though, is not cut from the same cloth. Its bulky and somewhat inelegant exterior is dominated by the large lens, creating an effect that appears to have fallen out of a 1990s timewarp. However, while its form is less than sensational, its function excels given the modest price tag.
First up is that brightness rating, and 3400 ansi lumens means your presentations and lessons will look splendid, even in rooms where there's plenty of light leaking in. If you can dim the lights, it obviously adds to the image quality, but this is certainly a model that can work very competently in daylight. See also Group test: what's the best projector?
Optoma W316 projector review: contrast ratio
DLP models tend to have generous contrast ratios, although we suspect the Optoma's 15000:1 contrast ratio is rather on the generous side. But while the figure may be exaggerated, this model still offers good colour depth. Detailed video would probably benefit from better skin tones, but the shades are incredibly bright, and the clarity of image means that presentations will look glorious, as well as being easy to take in. You don't get spectacular resolution support, with the W316 topping out at a native 1280x800.
This, though, isn't intended for use with high-res video, and the levels of detail will be more than enough for most computer projects. The Dynamic mode makes a good job of adjusting each frame to suit the content, offering consistently good quality under almost any conditions, while also conserving energy. The onboard speakers are adequate, offering sound that's relatively punchy. As with many of these projectors, the audio is more than adequate for business/school use, if hardly up to reproducing sonic excellence.
The lovely little white remote control is a cinch to use, and it allows you to access exactly the same menu options as from the main control panel. That gives you access to a slew of useful options, including edge masks and in-depth individual colour settings (stretching to less common shades, like cyan and magenta, for ultimate control). The ports and connectors include three D-Subs (one VGA-Out, plus two VGA-In/YPbPr connectors), an HDMI connector, and mini-USB.
Optoma W316 projector review: 3D projection
The projector can also turn its hand to 3D. You will need to take on extra equipment, such as glasses (available for £65 each), but it's nice to see most projectors now offering the option of 3D. No wireless facilities are built in, although you can add Optoma's wireless dongle for an extra £130. This will allow you project wirelessly from laptops, PCs, and mobile devices. The cost may seem high compared to the price of the product itself, but such an addition will increase the convenience of this model.
The projector also comes with a very nice carry bag. One issue we do have this, though, is the shortness of the zip, and getting the projector in and out isn't quite as easy as it may be. That may seem a trivial point, but it's hard to show your most sophisticated side to clients or pupils when you're simultaneously wrestling with an ostreperous carry case. This, though, is a very minor point.
The projector can be turned off very quickly (we recorded eight seconds), and can even be switched back on again almost instantly, should you somehow turn it off by accident. Lamp life is very good, and with care, the Optoma can stretch out over 10000 hours. At 29db, it's the right side of the 30db mark, making it relatively discreet despite its size. See all business tech buying advice.