Epson Powerlite 400W Ultra-Short Throw Multimedia Projector Review - General Performance
There's lots to cover in this section. These links will allow you to quickly get to any topics of interest to you.
Epson Powerlite 400W Menus
Epson Powerlite 400W Remote Control
Epson Lens Throw and Lens Shift, Pixel Structure...
Epson Powerlite 400W SDE and Rainbow Effect
Epson Powerlite 400W Projector Brightness
Epson Powerlite 400W Networking
Epson Powerlite 400W Projector: Menus
Epson really hasn't changed its menu structure in a great many years. For the most part the Powerlite 400W menus look, and are organized much like Epson's first 4 pound projector back around 2000. The way I see it, if you have something that works well, there's no need to change it. That must also reflect Epson's thoughts on the subject. Upon hitting the menu button, the partially translucent main menu comes up, with the seven primary menus listed down the left side.
The first of these is the Image menu, with its choice of Color modes (including Presentation, Photo, Theatre, and sRGB modes). As you would expect, this menu also has the Brightness, Contrast, and Sharpness controls. In addition there is access to the more advanced Color Adjustment menu. A Reset option will set the Image controls back to factory default settings.
The next menu is the Signal menu, which is primarily concerned with manual adjustments for computer signals, in the event that the Auto setting isn't exactly right on. It also lets you define Computer 1 and 2 as analog computer, or component video, however, the Auto setting for each should handle that automatically. Manual control of the aspect ratio is also on the Signal menu, as well as a Reset to reset these items back to factory default.
The Epson Powerlite 400W's Settings menu offers control of keystone correction, digital zoom, security features, lamp brightness, volume, and offers test patterns, along with the Settings menu reset.
The Network menu has all of the controls associated with network features, including the notification system, that can let an administrator know if the projector has a problem, or if it's time for a new lamp.
Shown here, is the Info menu, which provides a status of many of the Epson Powerlite 400W's settings, including source, resolution of source, and lamp hours in both low and high brightness modes.
Lastly, there is a Reset menu (not shown) allowing for resetting all of the projector's settings back to factory defaults.
Epson offers an interactive Help system, which is launched from the remote, or from a menu. Basically it tries to offer up questions that you are seeking answers to, mostly to deal with issues, such as poor color, aspect ratio, etc.
As you navigate, if you choose a question, it will offer some choices. If you then need to make an adjustment, the Help screen will have that control there for you to adjust, so you don't have to leave help, and start searching through the menus. The image above shows some questions, and the one below also shows lower level questions, and their answers. As you can see, it is offering direct access to Source, Brightness and Contrast...
As I basically said at the start of this section, the menus are well laid out, very logical, and easy to navigate. I should note that setting up for a network is a bit complicated, but that is the nature of networking, rather than a weakness of this Epson projector.
Review continues below this advertisement.
Epson Powerlite 400W Projector: Remote Control
It's small, it's light, and it's not a remote that will be loved by people with really large hands. On the other hand it really is well designed for one handed operation, thanks to its small size. I can hold it in my hand and easily get to any button with my thumb. The Epson Powerlite 400W's navigation keys (left, right, up, down arrows, Enter button in the center of those, and the Menu and Escape buttons) are just more buttons in the middle of the remote control, without any special spacing. If the room isn't well lit, there's not backlight, so that figuring out where those navigation buttons are, is a matter of learning (or squinting).
10 of the buttons, including all the navigation buttons double as a numeric pad, for dealing with numbers for security features or networking.
From the top: Left is Power - the usual, press once for on, press twice for off. In the center, is the Source search which can trigger a search for a live source, or toggle through the sources. On the right is the Help button, with the Help features described in the menu section above.
The next row has the Menu on the left, Up arrow in the center, and Escape button (takes you back up a level on the menu) on the right. The following row, has left arrow (doubles as volume down, when not using the menus), Enter (doubles for Auto setup for a computer source), and right arrow (volume up).
The next row has the Color mode on the left, down arrow center, and Aspect Ratio on the right. Finally, below those are two pairs of buttons: Digital zoom (E-Zoom) in and out, and Freeze, with an A/V mute, below it.
That covers it for the remote control. Very functional, but tightly packed keys!
Epson Powerlite 400W Projector: Lens Throw and Lens Shift
Lens throw - the distance the projector needs to be placed from the screen - is what the Epson Powerlite 400W is all about. The Powerlite 400W fits into relatively new category of projectors referred to as ultra-short throw projectors, for its ability to sit much closer to any given sized screen, than the vast majority of projectors are capable of. There are a couple of other ultra-short throw projectors that can sit significantly closer still, but they are far more expensive. As it stands, the Epson 400W does a better job than most of the other new ultra-short throw projectors, when it comes to how close it can be placed.
To fill a 87" diagonal 16:10 aspect ratio screen, the front of the 400W will sit 3.4 feet back from the screen (measured from the front of the lens). By comparison, most projectors for a screen that size, need to be at least 6.5 to 8 feet back, at a minimum. According to the Epson specs, the projector will work with screens up to 100" diagonal, whereas most projectors can go much larger. Since the Epson, however, is rated at 1800 lumens, it really is an entry level projector, in terms of brightness, so it is unlikely that anyone would want to go larger than 100" diagonal.
The projector's lens is not a zoom lens, so that is the official distance. Since the Powerlite 400W does have a digital zoom feature with a ratio of 1.35:1, that can be used to allow the projector to sit further back, (less short throw). This allows you to not overshoot the screen if you need to place the projector as far back as 4.6 feet. Even 4.6 feet is significantly less distance than normal projectors can work with.
The projector does not have any adjustable lens shift, and is designed to sit with the lens just below the bottom of the screen surface, or, if ceiling mounting, just above the top of the screen surface. Place it any further below, or above, and the keystoning of the image increases rather quickly, due to the ultra short throw. As a result, when reviewing the projector, my test table is about a foot below the bottom of the screen, and I had a significant amount of spreading the image at the top. This image (right) shows a significant amount of keystoning of the image. You can just make out the projector in the bottom center of the photo.
Of course, using keystone correction will allow you to get the ideal rectangular image, if you feel using keystone correction is needed. Keystone correction is similar to compression technology used to make non-native resolutions look their best, but does add a small amount of distortion, which makes very small type a little soft. For typical, large type Powerpoint presentations, however, it is most unlikely that anyone will notice the effects of the keystone correction.
Epson Powerlite 400W Projector: SDE and Rainbow Effect, Pixel Visibility
This Epson projector uses 3LCD technology, so has no spinning color filter wheel, and therefore, cannot cause people to see the Rainbow effect. Pixel visibility is not an issue as this is a WXGA projector. Get close enough and you can definitely see the pixel structure, but this is an issue that concerns home theater projector owners, and is considered a non-issue in the general business world. (There are some exceptions - someone displaying highly detailed drawings with very fine lines, may be concerned, but, then, the primary alternative would be a higher resolution projector, and in that case, far, far, more expensive). Note: use of keystone correction will also blur those fine lines. Lastly, photographers using a projector for their images, prefer pixels to be invisible. In the case that the Epson pixel structure is enough to concern them, their only alternatives are DLP or LCoS projectors, both technologies having a somewhat finer pixel structure.
Review continues below this advertisement.
Epson Powerlite 400W Projector: Brightness
As previously mentioned, Epson claims 1800 lumens. Over the years, rarely has an Epson projector failed to meet, or beat, its brightness claims. I should note, that most other projectors we test do come up short, some as much as 30%!
The Epson Powerlite 400W measured its brightest, in Game mode, with 2088 lumens. Presentation mode wasn't far behind at 1740 lumens. Other modes measured as folllows:
Theatre: 1386 lumens
Photo: 1354 lumens
sRGB: 1380 lumens
Text: 1167 lumens
Blackboard: 1277 lumens
Keep in mind, that traditionally 3LCD projectors do a better job of color accuracy and color saturation in their brighter modes than competing DLP projectors. As a general rule, for those dealing with ambient light, I recommend that if you chose a DLP projector, it should have 30%+ more lumens, to do a comparable job, in a room with ambient light. As a result, considering the Epson beats its specs (however slightly), it is comparable to most other entry level projectors in terms of brightness, even though most are rated at 2000 to 2500 lumens.
The Epson, like almost all projectors, also has an "eco-mode" - basically a low lamp brightness mode. Sadly, for this review, we failed to measure it. Epson claims 1420 lumens, a drop of about 21%.
That's in line with most projectors. Previously tested Epsons seem to hover around 20-24% below full power measurements.
This may be important to you, as this Epson claims 4000 hours on the lamp in low power mode, which roughly doubles lamp life. If you can use low power mode, you can reduce long term cost of operation, by needing to replace the lamp far less frequently.
Epson Powerlite 400W Projector: Audible Noise Levels
Most impressive, even in High Brightness mode, Epson claims 35db for the Powerlite 400W, which is quieter than most business projectors. In low lamp brightness mode, it claims 28 db, which makes it quieter than most home theater projectors.
Bottom line: Audible noise is not an issue!
Epson Powerlite 400W Projector: Networking
While I cannot test out networking (except wireless, which this projector does not offer), the options and setup look pretty standard. The Epson, when installed on a network, can allow monitoring of the 400W from remote locations over the network, to view status.
It looks like everything needed to configure the projector's seetings for your network, is there on the menus. In the past, I have configured other Epson's to a network, and found that doing so was trouble free.
Please note, the Epson EMP software that allows this is Windows only, sorry, no Mac, or Linux support.
The networking solution also allows emails to be sent to an administrator, should a malfunction occur, or when maintenance is required, (such as time to replace the lamp, or the filter).
You can see an image of the primary network menu above in the first section on this page.