The coming of Laser Projectors
arrived en masse, and they will dominate over lamp projectors by 2020. Now that we are transitioning into 2019, it should be pointed out that the choices in laser projectors has changed greatly since 2016 – just three years. Back then the laser projectors tended to be either fairly high end business, education, or commercial projectors with few below $10,000.. Today we have consumer laser projectors selling from about $2500 street price and up, and business and education projectors with lasers start as low as $1999 (for a Sony WXGA resolution laser projector! (about 1/3 of the lowest priced laser projectors just 3 years ago). There are now plenty of laser projectors for business, education and commercial use that are priced from $2K to $6K Once you start around that $6K price you start getting either advanced features such as edge blending and projection mapping, or higher resolutions such as 4K. 4K lasers however are still about $20,000 and up, but feature laden and extremely bright.The transition to laser projectors is moving very quickly everywhere but “entry level – that is small portable/fixed install projectors such as those typical of K-12 classrooms and small conference rooms.Laser
We have reviewed a number of these projectors, including, fairly recently, Epson’s new affordable Powerlite L610W, a WXGA model with a MSRP price $2599 and 6000 lumens! Our image player and the list of laser projectors below point to those reviews, and the list also points to other laser projectors which we have not reviewed.
There is one other group of projectors using laser light engines worth mentioning. Those are the extremely small pico projectors. Although most of those have LED light engines but there are just a few of those that do use lasers. We recently reviewed Sony’s CL1, an especially tiny example of a laser projector.
Laser-powered projectors tend to be more expensive than lamp based projectors, but offer some major advantages for many applications. This page will explore some of those practical differences and why laser based projectors may be the right choice for many installations. The most recent news (as of 3/2016) is that Epson just announced 7 new commercial grade laser projectors, covering a range of brightness from 6000 to 25,000 lumens! Now that’s impressive.
The Epson PowerLite L400U is a WUXGA (1920 x 1200) 3LCD laser projector intended for larger meeting spaces and the field of higher education. WUXGA is the business and education world’s 1080p, and offers full 1080p support. This $2,499 projector features some pretty awesome color, brightness and excellent clarity and will suit many medium-sized auditoriums and large university lecture halls well. Epson claims a brightness of 4,500 lumens, which simply tears through some fairly heavy ambient light. It’s equipped an RJ-45 network port for interfacing with existing networks, and supports an optional wireless module for WiFi connectivity. Once connected to a network, this projector accepts connections from smart Android and iOS devices via the free Epson iProjection App. It also offers support for USB mass storage.
This projector is part of Epson’s PowerLite L Series, and has 6 siblings! That’s not really a surprise from Epson, as they are they have the largest market share of projectors by a long shot – around 50%. This family of laser projectors includes the WXGA L500W and L610W models, with a list price of $1,999 and $2,599 respectively. The L610 XGA model at $2,399, and of course, the WUXGA models of L510U, L610U, and L615U, at $2,799, and $3,499 for the L610U and L615U. This family’s brightness ranges from 4,500 lumens to a wall-melting 6,000, and offers vertical Lens Shift and a zoom ratio of 1.60:1 for good placement flexibility.
At $2499, the L400U is the lowest priced WUXGA laser projector we’ve found yet, to review. It’s also worth mentioning that Epson’s L500 (at $1999) is tied for the least expensive WXGA laser projector we’ve reviewed.
This review of the Epson PowerLite L400U laser projector will start off with a quick overview and a list of highlights. Then, we’ll list and discuss some of the special features this projector offers. Following that, we’ll take a tour of the hardware. We’ll discuss picture and audio quality (yes, this model has audio!) before taking a look at just how well the L400U performed and if it met our expectations. We’ll finish off with a summary page where – you guessed it – we’ll summarize this review. By the end of our journey, you should have a pretty good idea if the Epson PowerLite L400U will meet your needs for a high-resolution laser installation projector. And off we go!
Epson’s PowerLite L400U is a 4,500 lumen laser projector with WUXGA (1920 x 1200) resolution powered by 3LCD technology. 3LCD projectors offer a significant advantage over DLP projectors in that they offer as many color lumens as white lumens, whereas on a typical DLP business and education projector, you would have to expect to sacrifice more brightness than with 3LCDs for great color.
3LCD projectors and DLP projectors each have advantages – and disadvantages over the other. No surprise there, since the market is split fairly close to 50/50. As just mentioned, a key advantage of 3LCD over DLP projectors in that they most often are capable of really good, accurate color, typically 20-25% below their brightness (lumen) claim. On a typical DLP business and education projector, you would have to expect to sacrifice up to 30%-50% of the brightness in order to achieve similarly good color. This in part has to do with many DLP based business/education projectors having a clear slice on their primary color wheel (laser projectors have a separate phosphor wheel, which we won’t concern ourselves with, at this time).The trade-offs: DLP’s deliver more white lumens, per dollar spent, typically than a 3LCD, so I typically expect a DLP laser projector selling for the same price, to have 10-25% more white lumens. Bingo. For the same price, you start with more white lumens, but by the time both technologies (in a typical laser projector) have really very good color, their overall brightness should be pretty comparable. That of course is “in general,” there are plenty of exceptions, which is one reason why we do these reviews, so you know what you are getting!
At Projector Reviews, we measure the brightness the projector puts out in each preset picture mode. While we will certainly let you know if it meets the manufacture claim, what is far more important than the number of lumens is how well did it perform? We’ll discuss that on the Performance Page.
Another advantage for 3LCD over DLP – there’s also none of that annoying rainbow effect which, if you’re like me and, perhaps ~5% of the population, and you are bothered by it, 3LCD offers a real advantage.