Posted on December 12, 2018 By Chris Kahl
Epson PowerLite L400U Projector Review – Special Features: Laser Light Engine, Onboard Media Player and File Browser, DICOM SIM, Split Screen, Multi-Projection
A laser light engine has several advantages over traditional, lamp based projectors. For starters, no more mercury! It’s nice to avoid bringing a toxic chemical into an enclosed space, with people – especially when a traditional lamp can break during replacement, potentially harming those in the immediate vicinity. While the concern of mercury in projector lamps might not be at the top of your list of considerations when choosing a projector, it is something to keep it mind.
What we find many are actually drawn to laser projectors for is that they are virtually maintenance free. Now, who doesn’t love “set it and forget it” type items? The laser phosphor light engine found in the Epson PowerLite L400U has a lifespan of up to 20,000 hours in normal mode and Quiet Mode, and up to 30,000 hours in Extended (Eco) Mode! Let’s put that in perspective for a moment – with a higher education schedule of eight hours a day, five days a week, for 10.5 months each year, we’re talking about a potential lifespan of the laser light source of more than 16 years!
Within sixteen years, we’ll be well on to 8K and beyond, so your L400U will last you well past the time you’re ready to make the switch for your business or education applications. Your projector will be long obsolete by the time you kill that laser light source. On a side note – if we’re still using these types of digital projectors in 16 years, as good as they are now, I will be thoroughly disappointed. Bring on the holograms!
Back to business. The cost savings of replacing lamps is negligible when there’s only a handful of projectors to worry about. But what about fleets of dozens, hundreds, or thousands across a college or university campus or system? That’s where a major cost savings comes into play. These projectors will still require filter replacements, but that’s much quicker (and cheaper) than dealing with lamps.
The Epson PowerLite L400U's file browser.
Though the L400U is bound to be ceiling mounted in nearly all usage applications, Epson did include its user friendly graphical file browser and media player. This file browser displays folders and files, including thumbnails of images for ease of selection. The PowerLite L400U accepts USB mass storage devices, though I don’t really anticipate it being used all that much. But, for the odd installation where this projector will sit on a table top or low-enough shelf, it’s nice to have this feature included.
The file browser and media player, of course, remains as useful as ever for network connected media, so don’t discount this powerful method of accessing and controlling media.
An X-Ray image as seen using the Epson PowerLite L400U's DICOM SIM Color Mode.
A CT Scan image as seen using the Epson PowerLite L400U's DICOM SIM Color Mode.
DICOM stands for Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine. It is a standard used in medical imaging, such as X-Rays, CT scans and MRIs. DICOM Simulation offers an enhanced gray scale protocol for training and educational purposes. Take a good look at these medical images above – DICOM SIM, coupled with the laser light engine for added sharpness, makes the Epson PowerLite L400U an excellent choice for medical schools and teaching hospitals. I’ve included the full image as it appeared projected on a 90 inch screen, as well as a cropped (but not reduced) section of the original image at the high resolution all content photos taken with my Canon DSLR start out with.
The Epson PowerLite L400U is intended for applications in the fields of business and education, and offers a feature that lends itself to participation in meetings and the classroom, and collaboration on presentations. This feature, of course, is split screen. The L400U allows images from two independent sources to be displayed on the screen at the same time. The user manual warns that certain features may not be available and some settings may automatically be applied to both images, the same input source cannot be displayed on both sides (left and right) of the screen, and certain input source combinations cannot be used.
There is an input source that allows you to adjust the size of each image, select sources, switch the image on the left with the image on the right and vice versa, select the input audio source, align the images on the screen and display the projector’s QR code. The QR code makes connecting your smart device to the projector easy, assuming you’re connected to the same network the projector is connected to. Simply connect to the network, open the Epson iProjection app and scan the QR code – you’re connected in seconds, ready to present. I had a lot of fun messing with this feature (Miracast), and can definitely see its benefits in the classroom and conference room.
The L400U Multi-Projection feature gives you the ability to combine images from multiple projectors. You can then set the color mode to Multi-Projection and adjust the brightness and color tone of each projector to match – there is an extensive group of settings specifically for this purpose. There is a large selection of built-in test patterns to assist in this, ranging from sizing, aspect ratios, to colors and monochromatic scales to assist in calibration.
A practical application of this feature is image stacking. Image stacking is where you use two or more projectors to project the same image, stacked one on top of the other. The purpose of this is to double, or even triple or quadruple, the brightness. Sometimes, this is more cost effective than buying a projector with more lumens. The L400U’s vertical Lens Shift allows you to move the projected images so that they are perfectly stacked, essentially creating an image that is up to 9,000 lumens bright!
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