Epson VS400 XGA 3LCD Projector
Projector Central Highly Recommended Award

Highly Recommended Award

Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.

  • Performance
  • 4
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$999 MSRP Discontinued

Why does the world need another XGA projector? Ask Epson about their new VS400, and they will tell you they designed and priced it for a specific client . . . a small-to-medium size business looking for a 4,000-lumen projector priced under $1,000. If you check our database, you will find that Epson hit their target: the VS400 is currently the only 4,000-lumen projector with a 3-digit price tag.

Getting that kind of brightness for a list price of $999 means that you will not find the input variety of some XGA projectors, but if basic connectivity and excellent data and video images are what you are looking for, then the VS400 fits the bill nicely. And if you do need 4,000-lumen brightness with a broader set of features, you can always step up to its more expensive cousin, Epson's PowerLite 1915.

The VS400 weighs almost 8 pounds, so it is luggable but probably does best on an A/V cart or shelf mounted. These installation options also provide audio output, if needed, since the VS400 lacks audio inputs and speakers.

Overview

Brightness and Uniformity: Our test sample of the VS400 came commendably close to meeting its brightness rating. With brightness maxed and color temperature at 7500°K, Dynamic mode put up 3,915 ANSI lumens. Presentation mode delivered 2,665 lumens, Theater mode came in at 2350 lumens, and both Photo and sRGB modes put up 2,465 lumens. Eco mode lowered brightness by almost 34%. All of these measurements were taken with the zoom lens at its widest angle position. At the full telephoto setting, brightness dropped by about 22% which is not all that much for a 1.6:1 zoom ratio lens. Uniformity was an excellent 90% with the lower part of the image slightly brighter than the upper portion.

Image Size and Position: For a 100" image, the lens centerline is 5.5" below the bottom of the image. This is a good offset for shelf mounting at the rear of a room, but with tabletop and ceiling mounting, you may need to make further adjustments by raising the front of the projector or using a drop tube for a ceiling mount. The VS400 has three feet (one in front, two in the rear) that unscrew to accommodate vertical and horizontal leveling. Vertical keystone correction of ±30° is provided in the Settings menu.

Preset Modes: There are seven preset modes including two for non-standard projection surface colors (Blackboard and Whiteboard). Each preset alters color temperature to fit its purpose, and Photo mode is especially effective for making photos look balanced and vibrant. Theater mode may be a bit bright for most room environments, but you can reduce brightness by using Eco mode and/or maximum zoom.

Security: For those occasions when you will be leaving the VS400 unattended, it provides both a Kensington lock and a locking bar to help ensure that the projector stays where you put it.

Warranty Provisions: Epson provides warranties of two years on the projector and 90 days on the lamp.

Advantages

Image Quality: Data images from the VS400 are crisp and well saturated, and even with full keystone correction, small fonts are easy to read. As noted earlier, photos look natural and do not wash out even in moderate ambient light.

Video is very satisfying with reasonably deep blacks and good shadow detail. Highlights are a bit washed out in normal mode, but lowering the contrast control restores detail. The reduced brightness of Eco mode also helps and reduces projector fan noise at the same time. Flesh tones are very realistic with minimal adjustment to color settings.

On-Screen Menus: On-screen menus are logically arranged and offer a wide range of image settings including ten color temperature choices. For those who really like to tweak color content, the Color Adjustment menu will satisfy you with its individual settings of hue, saturation, and brightness for each of six colors in its palette (RGBCMY). Menu layering is minimal, but a menu positioning and/or transparency setting would be a nice addition.

Remote Control: The VS400's remote control is well laid out and makes it easy to navigate the on-screen menus. It also offers some convenience items that simplify projector setup and operation. For example, the Color Mode button cycles through the preset modes that are normally buried in a menu, and there is a Pointer button that puts up an arrow icon that can be moved around the image using the directional buttons . . . positioning is not as fast as a handheld laser pointer, but if you forget yours or its batteries die, you have a handy alternative. There is even a User button which can display any of seven projector features including information about the current source selected.

Note: there are a couple of non-operating buttons (Focus and Screen Fit) that are for functions available on other Epson projectors that use the same remote.

Placement Flexibility: The VS400 sports an unusually long zoom lens ratio of 1.6:1. This is a real advantage over most projectors because it gives you a generous projection distance variation for a particular image size. For example, to project a 100" diagonal image, the projector is about 14 feet from the screen when the zoom lens is at its middle position, but it can shift about ±3½ feet and still maintain that image diagonal.

Auto Iris: We don't frequently find an auto iris on a projector under $1,000, but the VS400 has one and it pushes the contrast rating up to a maximum of 2000:1. With the auto iris off, the VS400's on/off contrast is closer to 500:1, but an auto iris can make a noticeable difference in black levels in dark scenes, or highlights in bright scenes.

Quick Start/Stop: If you are in a hurry, Epson offers a nice touch with its Instant On/Off® feature that lets you shut down and go without waiting for the lamp to cool down. You can also power up with minimal lamp warm-up time.

Lamp Life: There are a few 4,000-lumen projectors with longer lamp lives than the VS400's, but most are in the 2,000-hour range in normal mode. The VS400's lamp has a 2,500-hour life which can be extended to 3,500 hours by using Eco mode. That is better-than-average life for a high-output lamp. A replacement from Epson lists for $449.

Auto Source Search: Some inexpensive projectors make you search for sources manually. The VS400 looks for sources automatically. On power up, it searches all four inputs and selects the first active connection it finds. Pushing the Source key on the remote begins a search for and selection of the next connection detected. This is convenient when you have several sources connected but cannot recall which inputs are active. The VS400 will find them for you.

Limitations

Connections: The connector array on the rear of the VS400 is straightforward: one each VGA, composite video, S-video, and USB connection. Component video can be handled with a cable adapter via the VGA connector, and the USB can be connected to a PC once Epson's USB software is installed (it is automatic on initial connection). There is also an RS-232 connector for network management, but no audio input or output connections.

Note for Mac users: you will not be able to connect component video and your Mac simultaneously because while the USB input is PC compatible, it is not compatible with a Mac, and both sources need to connect via the single VGA input.

Fan noise: When a projector puts out 4,000 lumens, it generates a fair amount of heat that has to be evacuated. As a result, fan noise of the VS400 is relatively high at 37dB in normal mode although it drops to 29dB in Eco mode. Fortunately, the pitch of the fan noise is moderately low, so it is not as intrusive as it might be. That said, you might want to place the projector behind your audience if possible and use the zoom feature to minimize impact of the heat exhaust and fan noise. Alternatively, Eco mode is bright enough for many applications, and it reduces both heat and fan noise enough to make it a desirable alternative when you don't need maximum light output.

No Audio: It is unusual for a small-to-medium sized business projector to lack audio capability, but Epson presumes that laptops or other sources connected to the VS400 will have built-in speakers or that the presentation room will have an audio amplification system.

No Digital Input: The VS400 has no digital input, so you will have to be content with composite or component video. You will not be able to accommodate HDMI signals from DVD players, for example.

Maintenance: Unlike most DLP projectors, LCD projectors have air filters that need occasional cleaning and eventual replacement. The good news is that it is a quick and easy task on the VS400 because the air filter is mounted under a hinged cover on the left side of the projector. The lamp is also conveniently accessed through the top of the projector, so even a ceiling mount does not require de-mounting the projector.

Conclusion

Sometimes, a niche projector is the best choice if its features match your criteria. A 4,000-lumen XGA projector can provide a very bright image in a lights-on presentation room, or it can fill a 300" diagonal screen in a darkened auditorium if you need that size image. Delivering that kind of firepower for under $1,000 is what the VS400 is all about. It doesn't have some of the common features found on other XGA models in its weight and brightness class, but if you don't need onboard audio, or a digital input, why pay for them? The VS400 will be the perfect solution for many of those who want a brilliant image at a very low price.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson VS400 projector page.

Comments (3) Post a Comment
Philip S Posted Feb 4, 2011 10:00 AM PST
Used this on an install last week and we are thoroughly impressed with the overall image quality.

We are projecting on glass in an outdoor environment and the 4000 lumens really helps.

You can see for yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVK6zjn78yg&feature=feedu
Sandy M Posted Feb 21, 2011 11:57 AM PST
We bought this projector for its 4,000-lumen rating because the main hall of our temple has a high degree of ambient light. The picture quality is terrific and the projector is easy to set up and use. We also appreciated the under $1,000 price tag and Epson's reputation for quality products and support
Tim Posted Jun 27, 2014 3:17 PM PST
I bought one of these for my church when one of our two projectors in our Fellowship hall broke. Now all I get is complaints - about the other projector looking so dim in comparison. I am buying another one this week to replace the dim looking 2100 lumen projector.

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