The Epson Powerlite 410W is the successor to the 400W, which was Epson's first foray into widescreen short-throw projectors. The 410W keeps all of the features we enjoyed about the 400W, while increasing lumen output from 1800 to 2000 lumens. While it still lacks a digital input and costs more than comparable projectors, it is a well-built package that would be an invaluable tool in any classroom.
Short Throw. Like its predecessor, the 410W is capable of throwing a 100" diagonal 16:10 image from a distance of only 3' 6". This ensures that the projector will never need to be placed on a rolling cart between student desks, which is not only distracting to the students but opens up more possibilities for mischief. Keeping the projector close to the teacher makes life easier for everyone.
Wall-mount capability. As you might imagine, trying to ceiling mount a short-throw projector could be a tricky proposition. Rather than a typical ceiling mount, the 410W can be wallmounted on an extension arm which puts it at the perfect distance from your screen. This also keeps it safely out of reach, should anyone get the bright idea to attempt to tamper with it.
Lumen output. The key difference between the 400W and its replacement, the 410W, is lumen output. The 410W is rated at 2,000 lumens, and our test sample measured almost exactly to spec. After accounting for individual manufacturing differences between projectors, it is safe to say that your 410W will meet or exceed the 2,000 lumen specification. This is more than enough light for a small- to medium-sized classroom with moderate ambient light, as long as that light is not falling directly on the surface of the screen.
1280x800. We've made this observation repeatedly in the past few months, but if you missed it, 1280x800 is the most versatile resolution available in the education projector market. Not only can the 410W display 1280x800 signals natively, but also 1280x768, 1024x768, and 1280x720 HD video. Since these are all commonly-used resolutions in today's computers and video equipment, the benefits of this resolution cannot be overstated.
Low Maintenance. The 410W has a 4,000-hour expected lamp life in Eco-Mode. This means if the projector is run for six hours a day, 180 days per year, you'll need to replace lamps three and a half years from now. Replacement lamps cost a paltry $270, so when it does come time to swap the lamp out, the school will actually be able to afford the replacements.
The projector has a dust filter, located right next to the lens assembly, which needs to be cleaned every once in a while. This can be accomplished with a can of compressed air or a vacuum cleaner, and replacement filters are seldom necessary. Cleaning this filter semi-regularly (maybe once a year, at most) will extend the life of the projector and prevent dust spots from forming.
Loud speaker. The 410W has a ten-watt speaker, which is among the most powerful sound systems available in this class of projectors. While a projector's onboard speaker is always a poor replacement for an in-room sound system, the speaker on the 410W comes closer than any other to being an acceptable substitute.
Good connectivity/Wired Networking. The 410W has a fairly comprehensive connection panel, with two VGA inputs and one monitor passthrough. Each VGA input has its own 1/8" audio input jack, and the monitor passthrough has a 1/8" audio output as well. The 410W also has the standard s-video and composite connections, as well as a set of L/R RCA audio inputs and an RS-232C port for external control hardware.
Wired networking is also present, allowing for remote monitoring and control of projectors on the network. If a teacher forgets to shut down their projector, it can be done remotely. If someone tries to steal one, a network administrator can This is incredibly useful when projectors are mounted permanently in classrooms, and next-to-useless when they are placed on rolling carts. While not everyone can make use of this feature, it is very helpful to the subset of consumers who do use it.
No zoom. The 410W, like many other short-throw projectors, has no physical zoom. The lens is fixed, and the only adjustment that can be made is focus. It does include a digital zoom; however, the use of this feature causes the projector to use less than its full 1280x800 pixel matrix, which requires the application of scaling. For the best possible sharpness and clarity, scaling should be avoided, and so we do not recommend the use of the digital zoom feature on the 410W. Instead, use the optional wall-mount arm to place the projector at the perfect distance from your screen.
No digital input. As discussed above, connectivity is excellent - with one exception. The projector lacks any sort of digital input, making it more difficult to get high-definition content or video onto the screen. Since the projector is 1280x800, it has the potential to be a good choice for classroom video; during our testing it certainly showed promise in this regard. However, the lack of DVI or HDMI inputs makes it more difficult to use the 410W with HD content, due to HDCP limitations. Your only option is to obtain a component-to-VGA adapter instead.
Big lens. The 410W has a large lens which takes up half of the projector's front panel. In a classroom setting, where idle (sometimes grubby) hands are always present, a big shiny lens is an attractive target for vandalism. The lens is easy to scratch or smudge. But if the projector is wall-mounted out of reach, no problem.
Cost. The 410W costs a little more than its competition, but it has Epson's trademark high level of fit and finish. At $1299, it's not the least expensive option for short-throw projection. However, most competing short-throw projectors are XGA, not WXGA, making the 410W much more versatile when it comes to what content it can display natively.
The Epson PowerLite 410W is a highly-polished 1280x800 short-throw projector that is ideal for classroom settings. It has a bright picture that is sharp and detailed. It has an easy mounting solution thanks to the optional wall-mount arm. While it lacks a digital input, connectivity is otherwise excellent. Though it is not the least expensive option for short-throw classroom projection, it is one of the best.