Epson EMP-TW1000

7th Jun 2007 | 23:00

Epson EMP-TW1000

A handsome full HD projector at an attractive price

TechRadar rating:

5 stars

This is full HD on a budget, but aside from a lack of fine detail in blacks few compromises have been made

Like:

<p>Smooth, bright pictures with plenty of detail</p><p>Excellent price</p>

Dislike:

<p>Noisy</p><p>Poor shadow detail</p>

Now that we have easy access to full HD 1080p video in the form of Blu-ray and HD DVD discs, it's natural to want something well specified and affordable to play them through. But when it comes to the latter, you'd do well to find one for as little as this Epson.

The TW1000 1080p projector, Epson's first, is also promising the ultimate in detail and its sleek-black rounded look is one we like. A glow-in-the-dark remote is a pleasant find, as is an HDMI (1.3) and a Scart input. The input for the Scart is a tiny D-Scart and so can only be used with the adapter cable provided.

Also at the back are inputs for S-video, composite video, component video and a D-sub for connecting to a PC, as well as a mini jack audio output and a RS232C connection. The latter means you can control the TW1000 from a similarly endowed device, such as a PC.

Making its debut here is Crystal Clear Fine (C2Fine). Its aim is to create much smoother images from 3LCD technology while exerting more control over the brightness. And it gets better. As the projector uses a version 1.3 HDMI input, it's able to support 48-bit colour. For the moment it's a moot point whether there's any need for it when all video content is still based around 24-bit colour, but in the interests of futureproofing we're pleased enough.

The TW1000's 'here and now' stats aren't bad either, managing a (claimed) 12000:1 contrast ratio and a brightness of 1200 ANSI Lumens. As well as promising deeper blacks, Epson's auto iris controls the light levels to promise brighter peak whites

It's the 2.1x optical zoom lens that catches our eye first though, because the lens shift proves extremely flexible, both horizontally and vertically. It means you can use the TW1000 in odd-shaped rooms without having to position it directly opposite the screen.

Finally, Epson's OptiFocus engine promises that the TW1000 won't be as hot as some projectors, and if you reduce the brightness using the economy mode noise levels are reduced to an acceptable 26dB.

Unfortunately, though, if you want the pictures at the best quality possible, it's a very noisy unit - and a hot one. You'll have to make sure you stand the projector in a well-ventilated area, and then sit as far away as possible, but it's worth it.

Onscreen menus provide easy access and reveal that the default source is set to HDMI: if you plan to use D-Scart or component video you'll have to tweak the input menu.

Other tweaks you're more likely to use include brightness, contrast, colour saturation, tint, colour temp, skin tone and colour mode. The latter gives you access to fairly standard-issue picture presets such as Dynamic, Living Room, Natural, Theatre, Theatre Black 1 and Theatre Black 2. The last three are aimed at redressing LCD's main weakness: poor black levels.

The advanced onscreen menus let you tinker with the brightness and auto-iris settings, as well as operating Epson Super White. This doesn't so much brighten peak whites as make them look more realistic. A motion detection circuit promises smoother resolution of quick movement while there are three settings for noise reduction.

Pictures are extremely clean, with virtually none of the noise or pixellation common with 3LCD technology. When we tested the TW1000 using an HD DVD version of King Kong, we found it had overcome some of the problems inherent in LCD, but not all.

In a still shot, the detail of Kong's fur is truly impressive but quick movement creates the occasional jagged edge and a slight blur. Camera pans don't give the TW1000 the kind of blur or judder other projectors suffer from, but we have seen slightly sharper performances.

During dark scenes, there's a blue tint to deep blacks. Blacks do get inkier and truer with Theatre Black 2 turned on, but there's still not enough detail within black areas for our liking. Colours, meanwhile, impress but lack a little vividness.

It's easier to squeeze the 2,073,600 pixels that make up a full HD panel onto a LCD panel than on any other technology, so expect to see a swathe of similarly specified and priced projectors heading to home cinemas over the next few months. It's already been done better by others, but at nowhere near the low price Epson has achieved.

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