Projector Reviews

Epson PowerLite L400U Installation Laser Projector Review – Picture and Audio Quality

Epson PowerLite L400U Projector Review – Picture and Audio Quality: Color Modes, Video Image Quality, Text and Presentation Quality, Audio Quality

Color Modes

The Epson PowerLite L400U Installation Laser Projector operators using 3LCD technology which means we can expect some pretty good color, and good color and fairly high brightness! This projector offers six pre-set color modes, and three brightness modes and an additional customizable brightness mode. In the following images, we’ll show you Dynamic Mode in Normal Brightness, Dynamic Mode in Extended Brightness (ECO Mode), Presentation Mode, Cinema Mode, sRGB Mode, DICOM SIM Mode, and Multi-Projection Mode.

All photos except the one specifically marked with “ECO” were taken in normal brightness. We did not take a photo of Dynamic Mode, or any other color mode for that matter, using the “Quiet” lamp setting – it appeared slightly brighter than Extended, but had zero effect on color.  We’ll discuss brightness on the next page.

Dynamic Mode, the first color mode listed on the Color Mode sub-menu, is that obligatory, sickly green, “In Case of Emergency Only” nasty color mode that causes everything on screen to resemble the shade of my son’s face the last time he caught a stomach bug. Unless you are desperate for those extra lumens, choose a better color mode. Now, as greenish as Dynamic Mode is, it is certainly nowhere near the worst I’ve seen from other manufactures. Dynamic in Extended (ECO) brightness is a little more green, and quite a bit dimmer, but still adequate to fight its way through some fairly heavy ambient light.

Next up, we have Presentation Mode. It’s a little cool, but it works for graphs, texts, slides, etc – but I don’t think I would watch a documentary on it. Cinema Mode is next on our list – and I love it. Skin tones look good, it’s not too cool and it’s not too warm, you can see the differences in colors on those color wheels, including a difference in the reds – which is nice, because most projectors I have reviewed had yellows and reds that were indistinguishable between the two shades of each. This is something 3LCD projectors are known for – bright, accurate color! sRGB Mode is next, and isn’t bad, but it is a little warmer than Cinema Mode. It is intended for graphics applications, but could be a good all-around color mode if you prefer.

Epson L400U DICOM SIM X-Ray
An example of medical imagery displayed using the Epson PowerLite L400U's DICOM SIM Color Mode.

DICOM SIM is our second-to-last color mode, and really messes with color. That is to be expected, though, because it’s only supposed to be used for one thing, and one thing only:  Medical Imaging. What exactly is DICOM SIM? It’s an acronym for Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine. DICOM is standard used in medical imaging, such as X-Rays, CT scans and MRIs. DICOM Simulation offers an enhanced grayscale protocol for training and educational purposes. I went into detail back on the Special Features Page, with a few more examples of medical imaging – if you missed it, jump back over there and take a good luck – I think you’ll be impressed with the clarity.

The final color mode the L400U has to offer is Multi-Projection. Multi-Projection is a customizable color mode intended to be used when color matching, or calibrating, one projector to another when multiple projectors will be used to produce a large image.  It’s not intended for any other purpose, and thus starts off with some very cool color which suffers in accuracy – but with some adjustment I’m sure it will be just fine.

Video Image Quality

I have absolutely no complaints about the PowerLite L400U when it comes to video image quality. I found Cinema Mode to provide the best color, so all the above images were taken using that color mode. The WUXGA (1920 x 1200) resolution is the business and education world’s version of 1080p Full HD, and provides full support for 1080p (1920 x 1080) content.

I decided to throw a movie on for the heck of it, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and my wife and kids immediately commented “Wow! It looks 3D!” Well, it’s not, and unlike a lot of other business and education projectors, it does not offer the ability to project 3D content.  Except for a very few specific applications in business and/or education, this is a non-issue.

Epson L400U Video Image Quality
The instrumentation of the Orion Spacecraft.

The picture is so sharp even the text on the instrumentation from Journey to Space is easy to read. Overall, I’m very happy with the video image quality.

Text and Presentation Quality

This optics of the lens, its WUXGA resolution, 3LCD technology and a laser light engine make this projector incredibly sharp. I tested text readability when projected to a 90-inch diagonal image. Standing 12 feet back from the screen, I found everything, including tiny 8pt text, very easy to read. I stepped all the way back to my far wall at 20 feet and could still read 8pt text!  Now, I would obviously suggest text larger than 8pt be used in a real-life application, but wow!

This projector is capable of images all the way up to 500-inches diagonally, and, with this kind of clarity, would make an excellent choice for some of the largest meeting spaces and university auditoriums. The trade off? You lose brightness as you increase image size – but if you have good control over ambient light it’s not going to be a deal breaker. And, if you’ve got the budget, you can always utilize the projector’s Multi-Projection feature and use two L400U projectors for image stacking, creating an image that’s got twice the lumens!

Audio Quality

The Epson L400U has a single 10 Watt speaker built in. Audio quality is alright, but there’s no real bass to speak of. That’s to be expected though; the vast majority of spaces this projector would be installed likely have a nice room audio system the projector would be tethered in to. I found some content to be loud enough, and other content to be way-too-loud.

As for room-filling sound, I would say that the 10-watt speaker is adequate for a K-12 classroom, all the way up to a smaller sized higher ed classroom or small auditorium – assuming there isn’t a lot of background noise. This projector is designed for presentations and educational films, not rock concerts and action movies, so if you’re planning on using this for your KISS Appreciation or Cinematic Special Effects curriculums, might I suggest an external audio system.

On the other hand, if you’re teaching a film making course, you should be looking at a high end projector intended for films with proper black levels – we’ll get into the black levels discussion on the next page.

On to our discussion of performance!