NEC NP-PE401H DLP Multimedia Projector Review

NEC NP-PE401H Color & Image Quality

The NEC NP-PE401H looked great with any type of material.  It displays a sharp image that is notable for its accurate, well-saturated colors in all but the brightest mode.  Colors were quite accurate in any picture mode, with the exception of the usual green cast to whites in the brightest image mode, High Bright.  Other modes were quite good with natural-looking colors, particularly yellows and reds that were not too dark.  As you’ll see in the Brightness performance section, there is a significant drop in lumen output from High Bright to Presentation and an even greater one going to Movie or sRGB modes, so the best color modes are best suited to light-controlled environments.

Comparision:

Presentation Mode
Bright Mode
Movie Mode
Normal Mode
Video Mode

If you are able to use Movie or sRGB modes, you’ll experience improved color over Presentation, with good depth and balance.  As a practical matter, Presentation will give you the best combination of color balance and light output.  If you need even more brightness, the color in High Bright mode will be more than adequate for most purposes.

Photo presentations are excellent with the NP-PE401H, particularly in either Movie or sRGB modes.  As mentioned in the Setup and Menu section of this review, there are a number of adjustments available to improve the picture quality.   If you need to increase the contrast of your presentation, the gamma control will allow you to keep blacks from looking gray and vice versa.  The RGBCMY color adjustments will also allow you to emphasize or deemphasize colors as necessary.

NEC NP-PE401H Readability

As you would expect from a high resolution projector, the NP-PE401H provided a sharp image at any resolution or aspect ratio.  We connected the PE401H to a laptop PC and set it to output at 1080P resolution.  Using our usual spreadsheet with a range of text sizes and colors, small (8 pt.) text was easily readable on a 60” diagonal projected image.  This level of readability was maintained with white text-on-black and yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds as well.

There was no problem scaling to lower resolutions and aspect ratios.  Using the typical computer standard resolutions of 1280×800 and 1024×768, there was virtually no difference in sharpness and no color separation or fringing.  A lot of this is due to the PE401H being a single-chip DLP projector, where there’s no convergence issues to be concerned with.  Nonetheless, the sharp image across the screen is indicative of both good optics and solid scaling technology.  Based on our testing, there’s little doubt that the NEC NP-PE401H will do an excellent job maintaining readability at any conceivable resolution you might feed it.

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NEC NP-PE401H Readability Slideshow

NEC NP-PE401H Readability

Native Resoultion

NEC NP-PE401H Readability

1024x768 XGA Resolution

NEC NP-PE401H Readability

1280x800 Resolution

NEC NP-PE401H Video Performance

Click to Enlarge. So Close.

To check the NP-PE401H’s video performance, I used my Blu-ray player, connected via HDMI of course.  Starting in Movie mode, I viewed some scenes from Casino Royale that I’ve got ingrained in my head from calibrating home theater projectors.  As I expected from the Color and Picture Quality evaluation, these scenes looked quite good on the NP-PE401H.   Skin tones were quite natural and color depth was close to that of an LCD projector.  I switched to sRGB mode and noticed a slight improvement over Movie mode, so that’s what I used for the screen shot.

Click Image to Enlarge

The relatively high lumen output, combined with the low contrast ratio of the NP-PE401H, made viewing darker scenes less enjoyable, but then this is not a home theater projector.  That being said, black levels were easily equal to most of the competition.  For video viewing in an average lit room, the good color reproduction of the NP-PE401H in Presentation mode provides for a pleasing image, making it a good choice for classroom video presentations.  While the NP-PE401H is not really designed to be used for movie or TV viewing, it’s nice to know that it certainly could be used in that way, while still providing solid picture quality.

As a lot of video also has sound, it should be noted that the NP-PE401H’s built-in 8-watt per channel stereo speakers will be adequate for any normal-sized classroom, negating the need for add-on, powered speakers.

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