Epson EH-TW3500 review
This is a great LCD projector at a very reasonable price, although its colour depth can't quite rival that of the best LCD and DLP models in the same price range.
Review Date: 27 Jan 2010
Price when reviewed: £1,300
Reviewed By: Kat Orphanides
Epson's £1,300 EH-TW3500 is cheap compared to most other LCD projectors, apart from its sister EH-TW2900, which has a lower contrast ratio. Like most LCD projectors, it's quite large, so positioning it can be a challenge. Fortunately, the TW3500 has a movable lens, with vertical and horizontal lens shift wheels to control it.
The lens can move up to 47 per cent off its horizontal position and 96 per cent off its vertical position in either direction. This means that you have a lot more flexibility over where you can put the projector without having to risk the visual distortion that can result from keystone correction.
Adjustment can be fiddly, as the manual lens shift, 2.2x optical zoom and focus controls all affect each other. The lens tended to drop towards its lowest position when we adjusted the other settings. However, once it's set up, it's unlikely that you'll want to move or adjust the projector to any great extent. There are plenty of inputs, with two HDMI ports as well as component, composite, S-Video and VGA.
The projector has numerous pre-set colour modes, but there's little to choose between most of them - we preferred Natural mode for viewing in a dark room and the Dynamic mode, which adjusts the lens's iris to boost contrast ratios, for viewing under normal lighting. Colour reproduction was good across the board, with natural tones and shading that complemented our test videos. We were particularly impressed by the delicate gradation and distinct colouring on green shades and skin tones. Most of the presets had slightly over-saturated red tones, but this was easy to correct in the RGB controls. We noticed a fair bit of motion blur in our moving image response test, but this wasn't enough to affect our enjoyment of a high definition football match.
Although some LCD projectors have problems with contrast and dark tone reproduction, we were pleased to find that this wasn't the case here. Although the depth of the black areas in our high-contrast test footage wasn't as good as that of high-end LCD or DLP projectors in side-by-side tests, dark tones were nonetheless sufficiently rich and well-defined to produce an excellent viewing experience. The projector is almost silent in Natural mode. Higher brightness settings produce a bit more fan noise but it was never loud enough to be very noticeable unless we sat right next to it.
The remote control is simple but effective. As well as allowing you to switch between input sources, the remote provides quick access to settings like colour mode selection, gamma levels, and hue and saturation controls for each colour. The main menu system isn't quite as elegant, but its sub-menus are clearly labelled and divided. Image covers colour controls like temperature, tint and sharpness, while Signal allows you to switch aspect ratios and apply noise reduction.
Unlike most projectors, which have just two or three user-defined colour and image settings, the TW3500 has a separate memory menu, where you can save all your current settings in one of 10 slots. Running costs are reasonable with a full-brightness lamp costing 8p per hour to run, and 7p per hour in economy.
Epson's EH-TW3500 is a good projector, and is very reasonably priced for LCD. However, it's not that much better than its cheaper sibling, and the EH-TW2900 is the better choice.
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