Great 2D picture quality for a 720p projector, but its 3D support just isn’t good enough at this price
1,280×720 resolution, 3,000 ANSI lumens, 77x325x243mm, 2.6kg
Trying to cement its aim to be a great all-round occasional-use projector, the Epson EH-TW550 3-LCD projector has a low price, a 720p (1,280×1,080) resolution, and a bright 3,000 ANSI lumens bulb, so you can use it in most situations.
It’s very compact, so you’ll have no problem setting it up on your coffee table. There’s no lens shift and the projector has automatic keystone correction turned on by default. As this is a digital correction, it’s best to turn it off and line-up the projector with the screen. This should be easy enough as the EH-TW550 has two height-adjustable feet at the back and a height-adjustable kickstand at the front to help aim the image higher or lower depending on your A/V set-up.
There’s just one HDMI and VGA input, as well as older S-video and composite inputs. There are also two USB ports. The Type B port lets you connect a laptop computer and send its video and audio over USB; however, this feature’s more useful in the office. The USB Type A port lets you stream pictures from a connected mass storage device.
For video, there are four preset colour modes for 2D (Dynamic, Living Room, Cinema and Game) and two for 3D content (3D Dynamic and 3D Cinema), and all of them can be customised using the brightness, contrast, colour saturation, tint, sharpness, colour temperature and individual colour settings in the menu.
In our testing, we found that Living Room produced the best colours and the deepest blacks, but we couldn’t see a huge amount of detail in darker night scenes. Game mode rectified this to a certain extent, but its increased brightness made colours look a little washed out by comparison, and blacks were virtually grey. Cinema, on the other hand, was very orange and warm, and we’d recommend staying away from Dynamic, as colours looked far too green and oversaturated in this mode on its default settings. Despite these issues, we were able to find a good balance between colour vibrancy and good contrast using its in-depth menu settings.
Our test footage looked good, but it struggled slightly with fast camera pans and particularly intense action sequences. Images became a bit juddery during these scenes, but on the whole we were very pleased with what we saw. There are also options to reduce the amount of noise on screen, power consumption and aspect ratio.
It also supports 3D, but you’ll have to buy Epson’s ELPGS03 active shutter glasses separately (£68 from www.ebuyer.com) as none are included in the box. We were disappointed that our pair of test glasses dimmed the brightness so much, but this wasn’t helped by either the 3D Dynamic or 3D Cinema colour modes. 3D Dynamic produced by far the brightest and most vivid colours, but 3D Cinema was almost too dark to see, and increasing the brightness simply made the image appear very white and even more washed out. Its 3D menu does have a brightness setting, but the difference between Low and High was almost negligible.
It’s a shame, as its 3,000 ANSI lumen lamp gave us high hopes for a slightly brighter 3D experience, particularly at this price range, but sadly we didn’t see any benefit here compared with other budget 3D projectors with dimmer lamps. That said, we didn’t encounter any ghosting or crosstalk at all, so even if the colours aren’t brilliant, you can at least count on a smooth and trouble-free 3D viewing experience.
Running costs are reasonable, with the lamp rated to last 4,000 hours at full brightness and 5,000 hours in ECO mode. This equates to running costs for around 4p and 3p per hour respectively.
The EH-TW550 has integrated 2W speakers, but they’re not very loud and they produced very tinny sounds with almost no bass, so we’d recommend connecting up to a pair of surround sound speakers for watching films and playing games.
The Epson EH-TW550 is a decent 720p projector, but its 3D support just isn’t quite good enough to recommend it over the non-3D Epson EH-TW480. Moreover, spend a little more and you can get a decent 1080p projector. You get better value with the 1080p BenQ W1070, but if you want to keep costs to a minimum, then the EH-TW480 is the better choice.
|Lamp brightness||3,000 ANSI lumens|
|Lamp life in economy mode||5,000|
|Max compressed resolution||1,600×1,200|
|Other aspect ratios||full, zoom, native|
|Max diagonal at 7ft||62in|
|Throw ratio||1.3:1 to 1.56:1|
|Projection distance||0.9m to 9m|
|Lens shift horizontal||0%|
|Lens shift vertical||0%|
|Special view modes||dynamic, cinema, game, living room, 3D dynamic, 3D cinema|
|Sound inputs||1x RCA|
|Others inputs/outputs||USB mass storage port, USB service port|
|Noise (in normal use)||36dB(A)|
|Internal speakers||yes (2W stereo)|
|Extras||remote, power cable, carry case|
|Remote special features||aspect ratio, colour mode, input select, freeze, zoom, mouse control|
|Power consumption standby||1W|
|Power consumption on||311W|
|Lamp cost (inc VAT)||£149|
|Lamp cost per hour of use||£0.04|
|Lamp cost per hour of use (economy)||£0.03|