The Epson EH-TW5200 replaces our favourite sub-£1000 projector from last year, the Award-winning EH-TW5910.
Looking at the specs, it doesn’t feel like a step up: the new model’s claimed contrast ratio is 15,000:1 (compared with the EH-TW5910’s 20,000:1), while the rated brightness is 2000 lumens (down from the 5910’s 2100 lumens). The downgraded specs are explained by the price: the new machine is a whole lot cheaper at £700.
Firing up Captain America: The Winter Soldier on Blu-ray, we’re met with a bright picture that digs up a great amount of detail for this price. The Cap’s gritty new blue suit - and the steel-grey tones present throughout S.H.I.E.L.D.’s facilities - are delivered with the kind of realism the Marvel film is aiming for.
Colours are lively and dynamic, but stay firmly on the natural side. Skin-tones are fleshed out with believable shadows and realistic contours around the face, delivering just the right amount of detail without needing to show every single hair follicle.
The Epson packs a punch with its highlights. Metal weapons glint dangerously, fluorescent lights are pleasingly bright and daylight scenes are appropriately sunny and warm. We just wish this same level of intensity were present in the Epson’s black levels. It’s a crisp, subtle picture, although there are hints of noise creeping through.
This is more apparent when the EH-TW5200 is upscaling content, with the usually-impressive DVD transfer of Who Framed Roger Rabbit looking a touch grainier than usual. Motion, on the other hand, is smooth across all content.
We play TT: Closer To The Edge in 3D, and the motorbikes whizz down winding country roads with no stutter or judder. The sense of depth is exciting, and the picture retains a level of brightness and detail that rival projectors fail to match.
The EH-TW5200 has built-in speakers, but while voices are clear and easy to hear, there’s more than a hint of the tinny sound you get from flatscreen TVs. We’d suggest you invest in a budget system such as the Q Acoustics 2000i 5.1 (£625) if you’re serious about getting a proper cinematic experience.
Build and design
It’s a compact and sleek design, with curved lines and an all-black finish that looks rather attractive. There are manual zoom, focus and keystone adjustments on the unit itself, all of which are subtle enough to help you get the most accurate picture possible.
The included remote control is a good size – not too large, not too chunky – and, though not backlit, it’s easy to use. There are two HDMI inputs, one of which supports MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) so you can feed videos from a compatible smartphone.
We’re used to decent projectors costing £1000, so the fact that you can now get a bright, natural-toned, detailed picture for just £700 is an eye-opener for home cinema.
It’s not quite as impressive as the EH-TW5910, but then it’s £200 cheaper. And a great place to start.