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Epson PowerLite 420 Projector Overview

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The PowerLite 420 from Epson is a mid-priced short-throw projector ($949) that's ideally suited for small classrooms. It packs in an impressive 16-watt speaker, which can explain the price jump over many of the other PowerLite models.

Dimensions

The PowerLite 420 is a 3LCD short-throw projector that is geared toward educational settings, especially those that require the projector to be mounted to the wall. A short-throw projector is one that can project an image from a very close distance, and is ideal for small rooms.

It measures 13.6 inches by 11.7 inches by 6.2 inches when the feet are taken into consideration, and dropping the feet brings the dimensions down to 13.6 inches by 10.9 inches by 4.1 inches. This size is larger than many of the other PowerLite projectors, but the extra few inches likely won't make a huge difference in an educational setting, especially once while it is mounted. The 420 weighs in at 8.5 pounds, which, again, is heavier than most of the other PowerLite models, including the VS-210, VS310, VS410, X12 and S11, among others.

If you still want a full-sized projector but you still need something lighter, look at some of the other PowerLites that are mentioned above. Yes, you will drop features to get that smaller weight, but you'll also drop down to a lower price point.

If portability is a true concern, and you want something you can slip in your pocket, you may want to research a pico projector. These are portable projectors that are usually about the size of an iPod (or smaller), but you will have to drop a few features to get such a small package. They are not recommended for educational settings.

Display Specs

The native aspect ratio is 4:3, and the native resolution is XGA (1024 x 768) resolution. The resolution can be resized to the following formats, depending on your needs:

  • 640 x 480 (VGA)
  • 800 x 600 (SVGA)
  • 1152 x 864 (SXGA)
  • 1280 x 800 (WXGA)
  • 1280 x 960 (SXGA2)
  • 1280 x 1024 (SXGA3)
  • 1280 x 768 (WXGA 60-1)
  • 1360 x 768 (WXGA 60-2)
  • 1440 x 900 (WXGA+)
  • 1400 x 1050 (SXGA+)
  • 1600 x 1200 (UXGA)

The throw ratio range is listed as 0.54 - 0.74. The 420 can project from a distance of 50 inches to 108 inches. Both of these ranges are reflective of the 420's "short-throw" moniker. Although it can't project an image that's 300 inches wide, it's not designed for environments where this is necessary. Instead, it's designed to project a clear image just a few feet from the wall or screen.

According to Epson, the 420 can be mounted just 3 feet away from a board, and there will be no shadow interference for an image as large as 87 inches.

Light output for the 420 is listed at 2,500 lumens for both color and white light, which is about in line with most of the other PowerLite models.

Lumens are measured using the ISO 21118 Standard, according to Epson. The projector uses an E TORL 200W UHE lamp. The company says this lamp lasts up to 6,000 hours in ECO Mode and 5,000 hours in Normal Mode, which is a bit longer than many of the other PowerLites models.

Take note: When you are researching a projector purchase, you should pay attention to the lamp life because lamp replacement can be very expensive. At the time this was written (December 2012), a replacement cost about $270 at Staples.com. That's no chump change, and it's something you should consider when you're already spending $950 on the projector. Will this get extremely heavy use?

Audio Specs

The 420 has a single 16-watt speaker, which is a large jump over many of the other PowerLites examined on this site. It still falls short of the dual 10-watt speakers found on the MegaPlex models, but it's certainly adequate for the small classrooms in which the 420 was designed to be used.

The fan noise is listed at 28 dB in ECO Mode and 35 dB in Normal Mode - about average for the PowerLites.

Inputs

The 4200 comes with quite the variety of inputs: two D-sub 15-pin component video, one Mini DIN S-Video, one RCA (yellow) composite video, audio in RCA ports (left and right), one USB Type B and one USB Type A, one HDMI, one RJ-45, one RS-232c, one D-Sub 15-pin monitor out, one mini stereo audio out, and one mic port.

If you're not sure of the differences between Type A and Type B USB ports, here's a fast lesson on the difference between the two inputs: Type A looks like a rectangle and is the kind that you'll use with a memory stick. Type B looks like a square and is used for connecting other computer peripherals, such as a mouse.

Wireless Capabilities

Purchasing an optional high-speed LAN module enables you to use the 420 wirelessly for networking. Using Epson's EasyMP software allows remote monitoring and access of the equipment.

Power

The power consumption is listed at 244 watts in ECO Mode and 294 watts in Normal Mode.

Security

The projector comes with Kensington's lock provision and a padlock and a security cable hole. It also has password protection capabilities, which is a nice bonus, especially for an educational environment.

Lens

The lens for the VS410 has a manual focus with no optical zoom. It does have a digital zoom, with a zoom ratio of 1.0 - 1.35. About's Camcorder's site has a helpful explanation about the differences between optical and digital zooms.

Warranty

You always need to read the fine print for warranties, but Epson promises a two-year limited warranty is included with the 420. The lamp is under a limited 90-day warranty. The company also says that the projector is covered under its Road Service Program, which promises to overnight ship a replacement projector -- for free -- if something is wrong with yours.

There are also extended-service and replacement plans available for purchase. As of this writing, a one-year exchange service plan was an additional $179.

What You Get

Included in the box with the projector are a lens cover, power cord, VGA cable, remote control with batteries, setup sheet and user manual CDs, support instructions and a password protection sticker.

The remote features the following functions: Source search, video, LAN, computer, USB, power, aspect, color mode, volume, e-zoom, A/V mute, freeze, menu, page up and down, help, auto, mouse functions, user and ESC.

Epson doesn't provide much information on the Color Modes available, but one can assume these would be very helpful in a classroom setting.

Takeaway

The speaker in the 420 looks impressive, and it's likely why you're paying the extra dollars. It's also helpful that the model contains a USB Type A port that allows you to use it without being tethered to a computer. Whether it has enough light output will depend on what type of setting you'll be projecting in. The Projector Pros website has a very handy breakdown on their site.

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