The new Epson EH-TW9200W has the weight of expectation behind it.
This newest addition – the EH-TW9200W – is a top-range Full HD and 3D LCD projector, with wireless tricks up its sleeve.
It certainly looks the part, but is it the best projector you can buy at £3000?
Fire it up, and the Epson EH-TW9200W bursts to life with a bright, colourful and enticing picture. Pacific Rim is a great test of contrast and colour, and the Blu-ray looks exciting with the Epson.
Black levels have depth and texture: rookie pilot Mako Mori’s black coat and jumper can easily mesh into one mass of dark lump, but the Epson manages to distinguish the edges of her coat.
Likewise, the TW9200W handles the shifting gradients in colours with a good deal of confidence.
The striking blues and greens of the monsters are as rich and detailed as the bright yellows and deep purples that shine inside the main command centre.
There is a slight issue with motion stability on the EH-TW9200W, and we were quite surprised to see motion instability on a projector of this calibre and price.
There’s scope to iron out motion issues by turning on the ‘Frame Interpolation’ and ‘Super Resolution’ settings – but those options add an artificial smoothness over the picture, and movement ends up looking unnaturally processed.
If you must, set the ‘Super Resolution’ to ‘low’, which does control the motion artefacts somewhat.
It does, however, introduce lip-syncing issues (which can be fixed if your AV receiver has the option to adjust the audio sync).
Switch to a more natural-looking film such as Stoker that doesn’t rely heavily on CGI, and the Epson is such an assured and comfortable watch that we kept forgetting we were playing a DVD.
The strands of Mia Wasikowska’s brown hair are individually etched out, although the stark and sombre furniture of the house could have more clarity and texture.
As we keep on watching, we can’t help but feel a nagging sensation: bright and colourful as it may be, this projector doesn’t quite have the eye-popping ‘wow’ effect of previous Epsons.
When a projector costs £3000, we want it to take our breath away with its dazzling picture quality – and the TW9200W doesn’t quite do that.
The Award-winning Panasonic PT-AT6000E, on the other hand, does have that ‘wow’ factor. It’s the TW9200W’s direct rival at £3000 and it shows up exactly what the Epson is lacking.
Highlights and bright areas on the TW9200W could be punchier and more intense. The Epson needs a touch more sharpness to edges, too, and to deliver a better sense of depth.
Switch to the Panasonic’s picture and you’ll notice how effortlessly it delivers just that: it’s altogether a more immersive picture, engulfing you in the action of the film.
We’re usually happy with the picture settings on an Epson projector after it’s been set up with a THX Optimizer disc, but this time we found ourselves making a lot of post-THX tweaks.
We triple-checked that the focus was set perfectly to get the sharpest edges the Epson could muster (it still wasn’t as crisp as the Panasonic), and we turned up the contrast and brightness to add more punch and pizzazz.
This definitely helped to inject more life into the TW9200W’s picture, but we still weren’t wholly satisfied. However, we wouldn’t amp up the saturation level as the colours can look overblown.
Watching 3D films, on the other hand, is the highlight of this Epson.
Its confident handling of 3D films, minimal motion issues and a seamless yet still dramatic depth of field is a visual treat.
Play Life of Pi or The Adventures Of Tintin (two of our favourite 3D films) and you’ll be sucked into that extra layer of depth without feeling aggravated, even if it’s an active 3D design.
Epson also bundles in not one, but two 3D glasses with the projector. They’re light without being flimsy, and sit comfortably on your nose.
They’re smooth on the eyes, too, especially for an active-shutter design.
They can be charged by connecting to the HD transmitter box, and when turned on, an on-screen message displays how much battery percentage is left. Handy.
Manual zoom and focus options, auto keystone correction and adjustable feet make the physical set up of the Epson EH-TW9200W a straightforward process.
The addition of horizontal and vertical lens shift controls makes it even quicker to get the picture perfectly centred on the screen.
It means the Epson’s placement in a room can be a bit more flexible and the projected image adjusted with minimal fuss.
There are no built-in speakers, but that’s not a feature we miss.
If you’re serious about your home cinema enough to splash out on a £3000 projector, you’re obviously going to have a decent surround speaker package to match.
More after the break
If you want to set up the Epson projector away from your kit rack, then the TW9200W’s wireless feature will come in handy.
The WirelessHD transmitter – the little black box included with the projector – features five HDMI inputs into which you can plug in all your sources.
It then feeds the signal wirelessly to the projector. Simple and useful. This frees up the placement of your projector, and means you can keep the transmitter box tucked away with the rest of your AV kit and not have to worry about lengthy cables dangling from projector to source.
While it’s a useful feature, it does have its drawbacks. The most pressing concern is that you’ll have to make sure the signal between the transmitter box and the projector isn’t blocked.
The wireless receiver is built into the projector, so there needs to be a physical direct line of sight to maintain a steady connection. Walk across it and the signal drops for a second or two.
It’s not a huge problem as long as the path is obstruction-free, but we still experienced occasional drops in connection. Direct (wired) connection to the projector is the more reliable route.
There are plenty of connections here, especially when you factor in multiple inputs on the WirelessHD transmitter box.
The projector itself has two HDMI inputs – the main connections for feeding the signal from your AV receiver. Component, composite and PC inputs are also available, and are neatly tucked away under a detachable flap on the back of the Epson.
Of the five HDMI inputs on the WirelessHD box, one features Mobile High-Definition Link support for streaming HD content from Android devices.
There are also HDMI and optical outputs to project to multiple screens, and a port for charging the 3D glasses.
Build and design
The Epson EH-TW9200W’s build quality is as impeccable as always. It’s large and sturdy, but with smooth, curved edges that stop it from looking bulky.
The white chassis is a classic Epson design, while the black finish of the front grilles around the lens gives it a sleek look.
There are minimal controls on the side of the projector, and zoom and focus controls inlaid on top.
We like how all the controls and connections are hidden away neatly under flaps that seamlessly blend into the body of the projector.
Another neat touch is the lens cover, which automatically slides open when the projector is powered on.
The supplied remote control is also a standard Epson design: big and chunky with big, responsive buttons. It’s equipped with an orange backlight, which makes it a doddle to use in a dark room.
The WirelessHD button is crucial for setting up the wireless connection to the transmitter box, and overall it’s easy to use with the basic on-screen menus.
At this price, our expectations are high and the Epson simply doesn’t deliver the high standards set by the formidable Panasonic PT-AT6000E rival, which still holds the distinction of being the best £3000 projector currently available.
Despite that, this is still a fine projector. It’s beautifully built and impeccably finished, and its wireless feature, abundant connections and easy set up all work in its favour.
The picture, while it has its limitations in absolute detail and motion, remains a bright and enjoyable affair.
If you’re a fan of 3D films in particular, this is a projector you definitely want to consider.
The Epson EH-TW9200W may fall short of perfection at this price, but it’s still worth an audition for your home cinema room.