Epson EH-TW5210 3LCD Projector Review
Home AV reviewSRP: £499.00
What is the Epson TW5210?Essentially the Epson EH-TW5210 is identical to the recently reviewed TW5350 with just a few internal spec changes and an identical chassis design and finish. In fact put them together in the same room and you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart unless you read the labels. As such this review will be a little shorter than normal as we have covered most of the technologies on offer and in this case we are looking at the small differences and whether that affects performance in any major way. So are you better off with the £100 cheaper TW5210 or its bigger brother? Do the differences in claimed contrast ratios really matter? Do you need the missing Wi-Fi direct?
So let’s answer those questions and see if anything essential is really missing from the TW5210…
Design, Connections and ControlAs stated above the TW5210 is identical to the TW5350 and as such it really is hard to tell them apart when side by side in the test environment. The chassis follows a traditional ‘office’ style design with the lens to the right hand side and the exhaust vents to the left. Below the lens, which is silver on the TW5210, is a height adjustment button for help with placement and image height vs. the screen. Above the lens are three controls for setting up the projector and these include manual lens zoom and focus controls, a lens cover for protecting against dust when switched off and at the rear of this section is a keystone adjustment for side placement. We would always recommend leaving the latter well alone and spending some time properly aligning your projector and screen to avoid using such adjustments which have a detrimental effect on picture quality. Always install a projector without the use of keystone correction.
The chassis, while feeling quite light and plastic, is actually really well screwed together with a solid feel and a decent build quality. It measures in at 297x245x114 (WxDxH) and weighs slightly less than the TW5350 at 2.9Kg making it easy to move around and pack away when not required. To the rear top plate are some direct access menu keys should you misplace the remote control and below these at the rear are the connections.Connections wise we have the same options at the bigger brother TW5350 with the EH-TW5210 supporting two HDMI 1.4 slots with MHL on HDMI1, composite video, PC/VGA, USB 2.0, USB Service slot and Audio in and outs. To the left side is the power socket. Controlling the TW5210 is the same remote control used with its bigger brother. It’s a white plastic affair with small fiddly buttons placed in four distinct areas of the remote. You have source selection in a black area to the top followed by player controls and volume keys. Below this are the main menu buttons and direction keys with a central enter button and these are all within an easy thumb press. To the bottom of the remote you have direct image settings keys, although there is no backlight, which is a real omission on a projector remote. Overall it fits neatly in the hand and will last the lifetime of the projector.
Features and SpecsThis is a 3-chip LCD (D9) projector with a Full HD resolution of 1920x1080p and features a 200W high power UHP lamp with an estimated lifespan of 4,000 hours in normal use and up to 7,500 hours in eco mode. The projector also features Full HD 3D playback at 480Hz but you will have to buy the glasses separately. The TW5210 boasts 10 bit colour processing on board, with frame interpolation and a claimed contrast ratio of 30,000:1 which is 5,000:1 down when compared to the TW5350, but you will never notice this in actual use. The only things really missing here are the wireless and IP network features that most users would probably never notice anyway, which makes the TW5210 even more compelling at £100 less than the TW5350.
The Frame Interpolation (FI) and Dynamic Iris (DI) are pretty unique options at this price point when compared to the likes of the budget DLP models we have reviewed recently. Obviously we would never recommend FI for use with film-based material as it smooths things too much and adds the dreaded soap opera effect, but with fast moving sports material it can have its benefits and it might be worthwhile experimenting with the settings for that type of content. We found the DI was noisy and noticeable on both settings and with all content and actually found it didn’t add anything but gamma skewing resulting in crushed details within the image. So we switched it off and calibrated the image to provide the best blacks and highlights without clipping. We found motion on the Epson was good with 24p looking natural without any induced judder and motion blur was minimal and as expected from an LCD projector, motion resolution scored 350 lines with no FI engaged.
Given the price point we couldn’t fault the Epson in terms of specification with full calibration controls on offer within the menus which helps get the best possible image form the projector. Obviously some things have to give to reach the price point and that means a fully manual set up affair with zoom and focus needing to be changed every time if you want to use a scope screen, but the advantages of the small chassis and good build quality is its portability.
Out-of-the-Box SettingsWe selected the Cinema preset on the TW5210 along with the Colour Temperature settings of 5 and as there is no gamma selection tool, we had to settle for 2.2 tracking by the projector. We used test patterns from our Murideo Fresco Six-G generator to set the contrast, brightness and sharpness for our viewing environment and found the best out-of-the-box settings.
Greyscale tracking (top left) was very good for an out-of-the-box present with green just a touch low across the scale and red and blue a tad high. This resulted in DeltaE errors that were just above the visual threshold but we didn’t see any noticeable colour tinting through the greyscale ramp that was obvious. Gamma tracked close to 2.2 and without a separate and independent gamma control we couldn’t do anything to correct that or set it higher for a dark room. Overall the result here is not bad at all.
Moving to the colour gamut (top right) and we are presented with the same restricted coverage of colours we saw with the TW5350. green and cyan are severely clipped in the native gamut of the projector meaning we will never be able to get them tracking to the correct 75% point and above. As a result green suffers from a huge hue error at 75% saturation and even more so at 100%. In the case of cyan it just means that 75% saturation is the maximum spread possible with the restricted native gamut. The rest of the points are much better in terms of tracking with over- and under-saturation errors here and there. With on-screen material only shades of green really show up as major inaccuracies to the naked eye when watching normal movies and TV and skin tones just are a shade less red than expected in some well-known material. Otherwise, despite the lacking coverage of the native gamut, colour for the most part is good with actual viewing material.
Calibrated SettingsUsing the calibration controls available in the menu system along with our Klein K10-A meter, CalMAN 2016 software and Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator we set about trying to get the best possible calibrated image from the TW5210. Obviously with such a restricted native colour gamut we can’t add in what doesn’t exist, however, we can correct the over-saturation and hue errors as much as possible to improve the colour performance. And the greyscale should be an easy starting position to begin our calibration.
The colour temperature (white balance) controls on the TW5210 are very coarse and do not allow for precise inputs to be made, so we had to balance out the greyscale (top left) as best we could to get as flat a track as possible with the lowest possible DeltaE errors. We managed to get all errors under 2 which means they are invisble to the naked eye with no colour tint to greys at any point on the scale. Gamma was a little disappointing once we had flattened the greyscale as best as possible with the lighter (higher) end of the curve dipping to 2.1 from our desired 2.2 target. With no effective gamma controls we were unable to improve the results here.
With the colour gamut (top right) we set about correcting the saturation errors in red, blue and magenta and then tried to tidy up the major hue error in green as best we could at 75%. Even with the improvements made we found it hard to notice any major colour issues other than green which was sometimes very obvious, depending on the viewing material. Football watching for example showed up a very off-hue pitch colour in the brighter reaches but with film and TV dramas it was harder to really spot the off-hue issues. Certainly the majority of casual viewers of the TW5210 will never notice any obvious off-hue issues with most of their viewing material and for the most part, at this price point, the Epson does a reasonable job.
Picture QualityWe found that side-by-side and calibrated for our room the TW5210 was identical in picture quality to the TW5350. In fact for most needs we would save the £100 and go with the TW5210. At this price point we just couldn’t grumble at all with the performance on offer.
As we mentioned in the TW5350 review the Epson produces a slightly softer looking image when compared to the budget level DLP models but this doesn’t mean you’re losing detail or fine edges to image content, it just has a different look than that of a DLP which is usually very sharp edged in appearance. This is sometimes referred to by some people as a digital looking image and the Epson with its softer feel is usually described as a more cinematic or film-like look. We also prefer the colours on the TW5210 which have a nicer gradation and natural look compared to recent DLP machines. Continuing the comparisons we find that the TW5210 is not that great with the black levels and here the performance matches that of most similarly priced DLPs with mixed scenes suffering from a lack of overall contrast and dynamic range. Shadow details at the lowest end are clipped with shades of dark grey being present instead of detailed shades of black. Obviously we can’t expect miracles at a £500 price point but given that the Epson will be used in a room with light walls and ceilings the black floor should mean that blacks are not really an issue for most users. Add in those lovely looking colours with excellent gradations and shades along with accurate looking skin tones and the TW5210 can produce some lovely looking cinematic images.
Another area where the Epson pulls the rug from under the similarly priced DLP projectors is the lack of rainbow effect, low fan noise and the introduction of Frame Interpolation. Obviously as image purists we would always recommend switching off such processing with film material and the same goes here. Motion handling is very good with 24p material with minimal blur and no induced judder with film material. However, given the fact that many people don’t just buy a projector to watch films, the FI feature will come in handy for big screen fast moving sports action. It is with sports where you can really experiment with the FI settings and where the smoothing effect doesn’t look as jarring as with film content. We found that with football the TW5210 did a decent job of making things look slightly smoother without the ball disappearing for the odd second or adding any major artefacts. So that is one feature most similar priced DLP units don’t offer.
Gamers will also be happy to note that we measured just 29ms of input lag with our Leo Bodnar tester which should be fast enough for even the most hardcore of gamers out there to enjoy.
And finally we have 3D viewing and the Epson does a great job of presenting 3D Blu-ray with minimal crosstalk or ghosting. Obviously you should expect that the image will be a little duller than 2D as you need to wear the 3D specs (and any RF agreed specs should work, we used a set of Sony ones) which do dull images slightly to get colours accurate and enough light to your eyes. However we found depth to be excellent with good brightness to even dark scenes and the minimal instances of ghosting and crosstalk led to a comfortable experience. There are also further settings to adjust brightness, parallax and screen size, plus a 2D to 3D conversion mode if you want to watch everything in 3D.
- Good colour performance with excellent gradation
- Good 3D playback with minimal crosstalk
- Good video processing
- Good motion handling
- Frame Interpolation at this price point
- Long bulb life
- No rainbow effect
- Value for Money
- Mediocre black levels
- No gamma adjustment
- Some clipping
Epson EH-TW5210 3LCD Projector ReviewAs we have continually stated throughout this review, the Epson TW5210 is almost identical in every way to the recently reviewed TW5350. Where they do differ is in areas that are unlikely to affect most AVForum readers, and that is a seemingly reduced contrast ratio which we didn’t witness when both were calibrated for our test room, and no networking or Wi-Fi on the TW5210. In every other respect these projectors are identical and there is a price difference of £100 between them.
Given the performance vs. price ratio we would pick the TW5210 over the more expensive model and the projector does offers some really nice attributes that compete well with similarly priced DLP machines. We will get the negatives out the way first and at this price point that has to be the black levels, or dark grey levels if we're being accurate. However when you take in to account that projectors like the Epson will be used in rooms with white ceilings and walls and the curtains pulled, then the raised black floor versus a bat cave work in the Epson's favour. The lack of shadow details in the lowest levels are no longer a concern in such circumstances and only tough mixed contrast scenes fall down completely and these are few and far between.
Where the Epson really excels is with good brightness levels and very nice looking colours that while not really accurate to the standards, due to a restricted colour gamut, offer excellent shading and gradation adding realistic skin tones and a nice cinematic hue. Video processing is also very good with excellent 24p handling of Blu-ray without any induced judder being visible. Motion is also good with blur held at a minimum and the introduction of Frame Interpolation at this price point will also help with fast moving sports viewing, just don’t use it with film material. Finally 3D is also very good on the Epson with minimal crosstalk and ghosting visible and decent brightness even with the glasses in place.
Overall the Epson EH-TW5210 3LCD projector offers excellent value for money vs. performance at the budget end of the market. It produces nice looking cinematic images with decent colour performance and extras like frame interpolation. It competes well against similarly priced DLP models with only the black levels letting things down slightly, which is to be expected with both technologies at this price point. Used as an all-in-one portable gaming, sports, 3D and movie watching projector the Epson is more than worth its asking price with performance levels that will keep most casual users very happy indeed – Recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £499.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels7
2D Picture Quality8
3D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box7
Picture Quality Calibrated8
Ease Of Use8
Value For Money9
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.