Epson EH-TW8100 review
The Full HD (1,920x1,0800) Epson EH-TW8100 is streamlined version of its flagship Epson EH-TW-9100 home cinema projector. Both projectors are 3-LCD and have a bright 2,400 ANSI lumen lamp inside their large, identical chassis, but the TW-8100 doesn’t have the TW-9100’s ISF colour management feature or its two pairs of 3D glasses. However, the TW-8100 is also £350 cheaper, making it an attractive option if you want a top-quality projector but aren’t too fussed about having 3D immediately.
It takes up a huge amount of space, so you’ll either want to mount it to the ceiling or put it on a shelf, but you’ll need to make sure you have access top of the unit to adjust the zoom and focus rings and the horizontal and vertical lens shift dials as there’s no electronic lens adjustment. Having both lens shift options made aligning the projector much easier than using its height-adjustable feet, and we had no problem getting it to fill our screen thanks to its generous 2.1x optical zoom. The menu, source and power buttons are hidden away by a plastic door on the side of the projector, but all these can be accessed from its remote as well.
It has a large range of connections on the back of the projector, including two HDMI inputs as well as VGA, component and composite inputs, a serial RS-232 and 12v trigger output. As you'd expect on a high-end home cinema projector there are no built in speakers, so you'll need a home cinema amplifier for audio.
It has four 2D picture modes (Dynamic, Living room, Natural and Cinema) and two 3D picture modes (3D Dynamic and 3D Cinema) and all of them can be customised using its brightness, contrast, colour saturation, tint, sharpness, colour temperature, skin tone, power consumption, auto iris and advanced gamma and colour settings.
We found that Living Room provided the most realistic colour palette, but all of them were perfectly usable on their default settings. Even Dynamic didn’t offset the colours too much, but it’s definitely best viewed during the day as its intense whites are a little too strong when the lights are turned off. Cinema and Natural, on the other hand, are more suited to darker surroundings as they both produce a slightly dimmer image due to their power consumption being set to Eco. Either way, we were pleased to see that none of them compromised on contrast, as we were able to pick out a very high level of detail in the darker scenes of our reference footage regardless of which picture mode we were using.
The TW-8100 also comes equipped with Epson’s Super-res technology, which allows you to add extra detail to images that may have become blurred during projection as well as ramp up the pixel count on standard definition footage. We saw a palpable difference when we turned this on and even Full HD films appeared that much sharper to the eye. We did notice an increase in the amount of noise onscreen, though, particularly in films like Star Trek that are deliberately grainy, but this will vary from film to film.
You also have control over the frame interpolation, which slots in extra frames to help images appear smoother. Turning this on made fast camera pans and intense action sequences look much less jerky, but we barely noticed any juddery movement at all even when it was set to Low.
The TW-8100’s final trick is its 3D support. While it doesn’t come with any glasses, it’s compatible with any of Epson’s active shutter glasses (£68 from www.ebuyer.com), and we were very impressed with our test footage. Its comprehensive 3D menu settings let us alter the depth of field as well as the brightness of the 3D image, but adjusting the depth of field introduced a very small amount of crosstalk, so we’d recommend keeping the depth of field on its default settings. Otherwise, films looked very smooth and flicker-free.
Running costs, compared to the price of the projector, are pretty good. With the lamp rated to last for 4,000 hours at full brightness and 5,000 hours in ECO mode, running costs are around 6p and 5p per hour, respectively.
The Epson EH-TW8100 is a fantastic projector, but at this price we would have expected to have at least one pair of 3D glasses thrown in as well. Still, if you don't care about 3D, this is a brilliant projector, but if your budget can stretch, the Panasonic PT-AT6000E is even better.
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