Projector Reviews

Epson Powerlite 400W Education and Business Projector Review – Image Quality

Epson Powerlite 400W Multimedia Projector: Color Accuracy

A classic 3LCD projector, the Epson Powerlite 400W has no problems with reds and yellows, in its brightest modes, something that is usually a problem for many portable DLP projectors. In this regard, if you need accurate color, the ability to do, for example, a fairly faithful reproduction of a logo, or a specific color, projectors using LCD technology are generally better. Even the DLP projectors, though, in less bright modes – with names like Cinema, Video, Theater, or, sRGB, will render good color. Recently I’ve seen a couple of DLP projectors that looked pretty good on those pesky reds and yellow, even in brightest modes, but with many, you need to give up, up to 50% of your brightness for a mode that does well.

The Epson PowerLite 400W projector color bar.

Color Accuracy Modes

Color Accuracy Modes

Epson Powerlite 400W Multimedia Projector: Resolution and Compression Technology

Resolution of this Epson projector is 1280×800, which is typically referred to as WXGA, although there are a couple other resolutions that also share the WXGA moniker, including 1280×768, 1280×720 (not truly WXGA since it doesn’t support at least the vertical 768 of XGA), and 1366×768. That said, today 1280×800 has become the standard, as it matches up with today’s widescreen laptops and computer displays. In addition, both DLP and 3LCD technology projectors support this size (finally), as, previously most 3LCD WXGA’s were 1366×768 – a normal 16:9, rather than the 16:10 being used today

With 1280×800 you get roughly 1 million pixels, about a 25 percent increase compared to traditional 4:3 aspect ratio XGA (1024×768).

One of the most significant things about widescreen displays, including the Powerlite 400W, is that the widescreen shape is generally superior to XGA for displaying most presentations. The extra width means more words on a line (many bullet points on a presentation that would require two lines, now take only one). Even better, widescreen is more ideal for displaying a combination of text and images side by side, or even video and text side by side.

In working with the Epson, I fed it several different resolutions, from its native 1280×800, up to 1440×900 (Mac). The Epson nicely compressed all the higher resolutions it was given, with the relatively minor degradation expected when using compression technology.

The image below was intentionally photographed a little dark to be easier to analyze (you may click on the image for a much larger version). As you can see, all text looks nice and sharp, with the only minor degradation on the tiny 8 point type. Since 8 points is smaller than you would even use for email or spreadsheets, let alone anything in a meeting, the Epson, it must be said, performs very well.

I detected a slight loss of sharpness in the corners and edges, which I did not consider significant, and likely a price paid for using such a wide angle lens. From a logical standpoint, with ultra-short throw lenses, the distance from the lens to the upper corners is significantly more than to the center, or bottom center, so a little loss of sharpness has to be expected. The loss was not significant!

Bottom line: The Epson Powerlite 400W produces a sharp crisp image, with only a minor loss of sharpness in the corners. Compression technology with higher resolutions, was very good, and allows for readable small type. Let’s put it this way, if you are using type so small that the compression is making it unreadable, most people in the room are likely sitting too far away to read it, even if the small text was perfect. High marks for this Epson.

Click Image to Enlarge

Epson PowerLite 400W Business Projector: Sharpness

Well, I really touched on sharpness in the paragraphs above. Overall, the Epson produces a nice, sharp image, likely further enhanced by the slightly visible pixel structure at close distances. The slightly visible pixel structure of 3LCD, has always seemed to make their images look sharper than DLP projectors with the same specs. Please understand, we are not talking about more resolving power, just what seems to be a crisper look. In reality, almost any WXGA projector – DLP or 3LCD, is going to resolve about the same amount of information, give or take some slight loss of sharpness in the corners and edges.

Epson PowerLite 400W Projector: Overall Picture Quality

Of course the projector could be a little brighter, but that could be said for any projectors. Still, the Epson has enough lumens to do a respectable job in ambient light conditions on the screen sizes it is designed to work with (up to 100″ diagonal).

On the downside, the ultra-short throw lens means precise positioning of it is more important than with longer throw projectors. If the height of the projector is just a little off, the keystoning is much greater than a projector sitting 2 – 3 times further back. Even being just a tad off having the projector exactly on a 90 degree angle to the screen (left to right), will cause additional, angular keystoning. Nonetheless, this is easy to adjust, by just moving the projector very slightly.

Epson PowerLite 400W Picture Quality: Bottom Line

The Epson Powerlite 400W combines very good sharpness, rich saturated colors with very good color accuracy (for a portable business/education projector), and very good compression technology (when needed for working with higher resolution sources). I really couldn’t find anything to seriously complain about!