The Maxell MP-JW4001 laser projector is a top contender for conference rooms and classrooms that can get by with 1280x800 (WXGA) resolution. Not only is it remarkably lightweight and compact, it can deliver a highly watchable image even at its full brightness.
- Laser-phosphor light source promises up to a 40,000-hour lifetime
- Phosphor chip design yields light weight and compact size
- 3LCD imaging guarantees matching white and color brightness with no rainbow artifacts
- No 3D support
- Only 1.2x zoom
The $1,499 Maxell MP-JW4001 ($2,249 MSRP) is unusual for a laser projector in two important particulars: size and weight. The vast majority of laser-based models in the ProjectorCentral database weigh more than 15 pounds. Limit the search to LCD technology, a somewhat lower maximum of 10 pounds, and brightness ratings higher than 2000 lumens, and you're left with only eight models at this writing—five from Maxell and three close cousins sold by Dukane.
The eight models share a compact size and similar low weight—the MP-JW4001 is only 7.7 pounds—and all eight offer the typical benefits common to laser-based projectors—long light-source life, minimal maintenance, and support for 360 degree orientation. The combination makes any of them of obvious interest for a classroom or conference room—particularly one that needs a projector that's easy to move from room to room—as well as for displays in tight spaces, which can benefit from the option to creatively position the projector in any orientation.
The differences between models lie in the mix of brightness, resolution, and lenses for each. The MP-JW4001 fills the slot for 1280x800 (WXGA) resolution, 4,000 ANSI lumens, and a 1.2x zoom lens, with a throw ratio of 1.5 to 1.8:1. If those specs match your needs, it also helps a lot that it delivers on color accuracy and other key image quality factors. Most people will consider the default settings more than acceptable for graphics, photos, and video even in the MP-JW4001's brightest preset mode.
The MP-JW4001's light engine does away with a spinning phosphor wheel and the motor that goes with it. Instead, it uses a stationary ceramic phosphor chip. This innovative design not only makes the projector smaller and lighter than most of its laser-based competition, it's quieter than it would be with a spinning phosphor wheel—although note that the fan noise is rated at a not particularly quiet 37 dB.
Beyond that, the MP-JW4001 follows a typical 3LCD design, with three 1280x800, 0.59-inch LCD chips. As with many laser projectors, it offers both predefined power modes and the option to choose a customized brightness level when set to Normal mode. The custom settings range from 100 (full power) to 50 in increments of 1 and are roughly equivalent to percentages of the highest brightness. My measurements pegged 75 at 79% of the top brightness and a match for the Long life 1 mode. The 50 setting came in at 48%—the same as for both Long life 2 and Whisper modes.
Note that the 40,000 hours rating for the light source is for Long life 2 mode only. Both Normal and Whisper modes are rated at a more typical 20,000 hours, and Long life 1 mode is rated at 30,000 hours. Whisper mode delivers the same brightness as Long Life 2 mode, but lowers the fan noise, along with the level of cooling it offers.
The MP-JW4001's options for customizing the image don't go much further than letting you pick one predefined color mode or another. Tint and Color (which adjusts saturation for all colors at once) are the only two color adjustment settings, for example, and both Gamma and Color Temperature settings are available only when using one of the three User modes. Fortunately, the default settings for the predefined modes deliver good enough image quality, including color accuracy, so this isn't an issue for classroom or conference room use.
Physical setup is straightforward. It's also easier than for most laser projectors, thanks to the 7.7-pound weight and 2.7 x 13.0 x 10.6-inch size (HWD) that make the MP-JW4001 so easy to handle. I measured the brightest predefined color mode at 3,580 ANSI lumens in Normal mode, which is enough to light up a 150-inch, 16:10, 1.0-gain screen in moderately bright ambient light. For a more modest 120-inch diagonal image, the throw distance ranges from roughly 12.75 to 15.3 feet. (For the range for your screen size see the Maxell MP-JW4001 projection calculator.)
For standard setups, the lens offset is most appropriate for placing the projector on a flat surface just below the screen, with the bottom of the image lining up with the centerline of the lens. It's also suitable for mounting inverted in a ceiling mount, though you may need an extension pole to lower the mount far enough below the ceiling. The 1.2x zoom offers some flexibility for positioning And if the image isn't a perfect rectangle, you can fix it with the +/- 30 degree horizontal and vertical keystone correction.
For more creative installations, such as a retail display, along with positioning the projector in any orientation over 360 degrees in any axis, you can also correct for geometric distortion on curved surfaces with four-corner correction and using vertical and horizontal correction for both pincushioning and barrel distortion.
Note also that the MP-JW4001 includes a built-in 16-watt mono speaker, which easily delivers high enough volume for a medium size classroom or conference room and good enough sound quality to make it worth using.
Here's a more complete list of the Maxell's key features:
- 1280x800 native resolution; accepts up to 1080p input
- Laser-phosphor light source
- 4,000 ANSI lumen rating
- Up to 40,000 hour light source life in Long life 2 mode; 30,000 hours in Long life 1 mode, and 20,000 hours in Normal and Whisper Modes
- 3LCD design guarantees equal color and white brightness with no rainbow artifacts
- Phosphor-chip design allows a smaller size, lighter weight, and quieter operation than comparable phosphor-wheel-based laser projectors
- 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio rating (full on/full off)
- Dicom Sim mode for medical education and presentations
- Only 7.7 pounds
- 1.2x zoom lens; 1.5 - 1.8:1 throw ratio
- Virtually maintenance free; filter life is rated at 5,000 hours
- Geometric correction: Horizontal and vertical keystone, +/- 30 degrees; 4-corner correction; horizontal and vertical pincushion and barrel distortion correction
- 360 degree installation in any axis
- 16-watt mono speaker
- Connects to PCs and to Android and iOS mobile devices over a wired LAN or optional wireless dongle for presentations; you can also control the projector using the mobile apps
- Supports PJLink, Crestron Connected, AMX, and network control though a built-in Web page
- Can be set to turn on automatically when it detects input
- Cloning function (with free app) copies most settings easily from one MP-JW4001 to another in multi-projector installations
- Can send notifications as audio messages to play or as text messages to display on one or more selected projectors on a network
- 5-year/10,000-hour warranty including light source
The MP-JW4001 offers six predefined color modes. None showed enough of a color shift with default settings to be obvious, which makes color accuracy more than acceptable for conference room and classroom use straight out of the box in all modes. However, our preferred choice for presentations isn't the brightest mode—Dynamic—but a toss up between Standard, which is the second brightest mode, and Cinema, which comes in at a close third.
Dynamic mode is best avoided if you don't need its extra brightness, primarily because colors aren't as saturated as in any of the other modes. Light colors in particular—cyan and light yellow for example—were washed out in my testing to the point where what should have been pastel colors in a graphic looked like a tinted off-white.
Standard and Cinema modes both delivered suitably saturated, eye-catching color for presentations and more than acceptable color accuracy both for presentations and for film and video. But switching back and forth between them showed that Standard mode was ever-so-slightly green shifted relative to Cinema. Note that Standard mode's green shift was minor enough that I might have missed it without shifting back and forth between modes. Even so, it's enough to make Cinema mode our preferred choice for film and video.
For presentations that don't include photorealistic images, this still leaves Standard mode as the preferred choice, thanks to its slightly higher brightness. For those that include photos or video clips, the choice between the two depends on whether you prefer a slightly brighter image or slightly more neutral color.
Natural and Whiteboard are the MP-JW4001's lowest brightness modes. Compared with Standard mode, Natural mode delivered more saturated color, but also a slightly greater green shift—not enough for most people to find bothersome, but enough to be noticeable to anyone with a trained eye. Whiteboard mode also delivered nicely saturated color in graphics, but photorealistic images were a little dark and a little green shifted, as if looking though a green-tinted gray filter.
There's also a Dicom Sim mode, meant for showing medical images like x-rays in a classroom setting. The three User modes, finally, are notable primarily because they are the only modes that allow changes to Gamma and Color Temperature settings.
Viewing Film and Video
The MP-JW4001's native 1280x800 resolution limits its video to 720p, although it will accept 1080p input. I tested it with several movies on Blu-ray discs and a variety of shows on Netflix, including the latest season of Absentia.
Using Cinema mode, color accuracy in every case was good enough that I didn't see any obvious color errors. However, as is common for projectors aimed at business use in ambient light, black levels and contrast were nowhere near the levels you would expect in even a low-cost home theater projector, and switching to a User mode to adjust the gamma setting didn't offer any worthwhile improvement with any setting I could find.
That said, the MP-JW4001's combination of contrast, black level, and color accuracy delivers film and video images that are easily good enough for classrooms and conference rooms that need to show either short video clips or show video only occasionally. And it helps that because the MP-JW4001 is a 3LCD projector, it's guaranteed not to produce rainbow artifacts.
The Maxell MP-JW4001's extraordinarily small size and light weight gives it a notable advantage over much of the competition, particularly for applications that need to move a projector from room to room or simply move it out of the way when it's not being used. Like most laser-based projectors, it also offers a set of features that make it a good choice for displays in retail locations and museums—long life for the light source; support for 24/7, virtually maintenance-free operation; and support for 360-degree orientation in any axis. The compact size further enhances the suitability for those applications as well, particularly for those that need to take advantage of more creative orientations.
The test unit delivered a solid 90% of its 4,000 ANSI lumen rating in our tests, or 3,580 lumens, and even our preferred mode for presentations, with its better color saturation, delivered 3,046 lumens, making it bright enough for a 135-inch, 1.0 gain screen in moderate ambient light. Most important, image quality is easily up to par for a classroom or conference room, with suitable sharpness for the 1280x800 resolution, more than acceptable color accuracy, and even good enough contrast and black level for watching video and film.
This constellation of features—available until now only in bigger, heavier projectors—makes the Maxell MP-JW4001 a compelling choice at $1,499. If you need a 1280x800 projector for a medium to large classroom or conference room, and you want one with all the advantages that only a laser light source can deliver, the Maxell MP-JW4001 deserves to be on your short list.
Brightness. With the 1.2x zoom lens set to its widest angle setting, the MP-JW4001's measured ANSI lumens in Standard, Long life 1, Long life 2 and Whisper modes was as follows for each color mode:
Maxell MP-JW4001 ANSI Lumens
|Mode||Standard||Long life 1||Long life 2 and Whisper|
Zoom Lens Light Loss: The 1.2x zoom isn't enough to have a significant effect on brightness.
Brightness Uniformity (Wide Zoom): 84%
Lowest Measured Input Lag (1080p): 48 ms
Fan Noise. Rated at 37 dB, the fan noise in my tests using Standard power mode at 100%, Long life 1, and Long life 2 was noticeable from anywhere in a medium size room, and loud enough that you may want to consider some form of acoustic isolation. Lowering the Standard mode brightness setting also lowers the noise level. However, some will want to consider acoustic isolation even at the lowest setting of 50%. In my tests, Whisper mode's noise level was a match for Normal mode at 50%. Note also that at the default setting of Auto for Altitude, the fan speed—and resulting sound level—can vary depending on the internal temperature.
Maxell recommends using High Altitude mode at 5,249 feet and above. The setting raises the noise level by enough that you'll want to consider acoustic isolation in almost any classroom or conference room when using it.
- HDMI 1.4 (x2)
- VGA/component (x2 1 switchable to monitor out)
- Composite video
- USB 2.0 Type A (for power, reading files from USB memory key, or connecting optional Wi-Fi adaptor for connecting to a LAN or directly to a mobile device)
- RJ-45 LAN (control, presentations)
- 3.5mm stereo audio in
- RCA L/R stereo audio in
- 3.5mm stereo audio out
- USB 2.0 Type B (For PC mouse control from remote)
- RS-232 (for control)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Maxell MP-JW4001 projector page.