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Epson PowerLite 400W Ultra-Short Throw, Widescreen Business Projector Review

Posted on July 30, 2008 by Art Feierman

Specs Preview

Epson PowerLite 400W Specs
Price 1299
Technology 3LCD
Native Resolution WXGA (1280x800)
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim) 1800
Contrast 500:1
Zoom Lens Ratio 1.37:1
Lens Shift Yes
Lamp Life 4000 hours at low power, 2000 hours at full lamp power
Weight 7.9
Warranty 2 Years

Projector Highlights

  • Native WXGA 1280x800 resolution projector
  • Ultra-short throw lens
  • First affordable projector to offer both WXGA and Ultra-short throw
  • Entry Level, 1800 lumens brightness
  • Excellent warranty
  • Powerful 10 watt speaker
  • Reasonably quiet, even in full power mode and very quiet in low power mode

The Epson Powerlite 400W is one of the few "ultra-short throw" projectors to hit the market. For those not familiar with the phrase, this Epson sits much closer to the screen than the typical projector, close enough to make this projector better suited for many applications than the average projector. But, that's not all:

The Epson Powerlite 400W is also a widescreen 3LCD projector. Widescreen projectors, be they 3LCD or DLP, are finally coming of age. Once again, the projector industry has lagged years behind the evolution of laptop and desktop displays, and until this year, widescreen projectors have made up a very tiny percentage of all the projectors out there. This year, finally, most major manufacturers now offer multiple widescreen projectors, basically offering them in multiple classes (micro-portables, portables, and fixed/install projectors).

As someone who has owned laptops with widescreen displays for about 7 years, I've been a big proponent of widescreen projectors. Also many, including myself, argue that the widescreen shape is more suited to most types of presentations than the classic 4:3 aspect ratio projectors. Lastly, we are finally seeing some standardization around the 1280x800 resolution, and far less of other WXGA resolutions including 1366x768 or 1280x768, or even 1280x720 (home theater resolution, and less desireable with today's 1280x800 standard widescreen computers).

Having said all that, the Epson Powerlite 400W is not just another widescreen projector. While it has most of the usual attributes of portable projectors; it is light (but far from the lightest at about 8 pounds), and it is very compact (but far from the smallest). It is small enough and light enough to function well as a portable projector, but that's not why most will select the Powerlite 400W over the competition.

The real uniqueness of the Epson 400W is that it comes standard with an ultra-short throw lens. In English, that means it can be placed very close to the screen, which is ideal for many applications. True, it can't be placed as close as the one or two projectors with truly unique designs like the recently reviewed, and far more expensive Sanyo PLC-XL50 and XL51, but it can sit very close to the screen compared to almost all other projectors. You can fill a moderate sized screen (say an 87" diagonal 16:10 image), from only 3.5 feet back, compared to the usual 7 feet or further for most projectors. This opens up some great possibilities for working with electronic whiteboards, reducing installation costs, digital signage, rear screen usage, and many other specialty applications.

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