Epson TW7200 3D LCD Projector Review
Epson's latest model proves that just because you've cut the price, you don't have to cut the corners
What is the Epson TW7200?
A quick glance at the spec sheets and you'd be forgiven for thinking you were looking at Epson's flagship projector - the TW9200 - so how come the EH-TW7200 is £800 cheaper?Well it isn't quite as well proportioned as its big brother - the black levels, dynamic range and contrast ratios aren't as good; the lamp isn't as bright; there's no frame interpolation; and you only get one pair of 3D glasses instead of two. However, in most other respects it appears that the cheaper model retains many of the features that make the TW9200 such a great projector.The chassis is identical, with the same excellent build quality and Epson have even kept the motorised lens cover. The majority of the other features also remain intact including all the calibration controls, the backlit remote, the dynamic iris and the video processing. So if the TW7200 can deliver the same level of image accuracy as its more expensive sibling, it could prove to be a real bargain. Let's find out...
Design and ConnectionsThe TW7200 uses the same chassis found on the TW9200 and thus the level of build quality is impressive for what is essentially a budget projector. There's a centrally mounted lens and manual controls above the lens assembly. There are air intakes and exhausts either side of the lens and connections at the rear. The all-white chassis measures 466 x 395 x 140mm and the overall weight is 8.4kg. The design incorporates clean lines and contemporary styling and in keeping with this there is a moveable panel on the right hand side, which hides some basic controls.
The TW7200 is straightforward to set up, thanks to the centrally mounted lens, adjustable feet and manual shift, zoom and focus controls. The quality of the lens is actually rather good, considering the price point, and the the TW7200 delivered a sharp and detailed image, with good uniformity and convergence. Despite the lower price of the TW7200, Epson has still included a motorised lens cover that opens and closes when you turn the projector on and off. It remains rather noisy and clunky as it slides in and out but it's something you won't find on similarly priced projectors.
Despite is lower price, the TW7200 retains the higher build quality and many of the features found on Epson's more expensive models.
All the connections are at the rear and are fairly comprehensive with two HDMI 1.4 inputs, a component video input with RCA connectors, a composite video with an RCA connector and a VGA connector for a PC. There's also an RS-232 serial connector for system control and a 12v trigger for controlling an electric screen or an anamorphic lens. Finally, at the rear, there is also an on/off switch and the power socket which uses a standard three pin connector.
The TW7200 comes with the standard Epson remote control which, whilst quite large, is attractively designed and well made. It includes a backlight which is useful in the dark and large buttons that are well laid out and intuitive to use; whilst the remote control itself is comfortable to hold and simple to operate with one hand. There are buttons for all the usual controls, as well as dedicated ones for specific functions such as Colour Mode, Aspect (Ratio), RGBCMY (CMS), Auto Iris and 2D/3D.
The TW7200 also comes with one pair of 3D glasses that use the RF standard. They are lightweight, comfortable to wear and large enough to fit over regular glasses. There are wide sides which help with blocking out any ambient light and the lenses are suitably neutral in tint. The glasses can be recharged via an included USB adapter and at the top of the frame there is an on/off switch, although the glasses will automatically switch off after a certain period with no 3D signal.
MenusThe menu system is the same standard layout that Epson use on all their current models and you can choose between the monochrome version or the more colourful one shown below. We like Epson's menu system, it is easy to use, sensibly laid out and very comprehensive. From the perspective of setting the TW7200 up correctly, the most important sub-menus are Signal and Image. In the Signal sub-menu are all the controls relating to deinterlacing, scaling, 3D and noise reduction; whilst in the Image sub-menu you will find all the usual picture controls including Colour Mode, Brightness, Contrast, Colour Saturation and Tint. There is also a Sharpness control, as well as a Colour Temperature setting and a Skin Tone control.
The Advanced sub-menu contains the Gamma control, the RGB control, the RGBCMY control and the EPSON Super White control. You should select EPSON Super White in order to ensure that the projector is reproducing all the detail in peak whites. The Gamma control features a selection of different preset gamma settings and the RGB control is Epson's name for their two point white balance control which is used to calibrate the greyscale. RGBCMY is their name for the Colour Management System (CMS), which allows for an accurate calibration of the primary (red, green and blue) and secondary (cyan, magenta and yellow) colours by adjusting Hue, Saturation (Colour) and Brightness (luminance).
The out-of-the-box colour performance was excellent, with a level of accuracy that was actually superior to the TW9200 we tested.
As we expected, the Natural colour mode was the most accurate out-of-the-box, delivering a performance that matched the industry standards as closely as possible for a factory setting. A list of suggested settings based on the measurements taken during the review can be found here.
As the RGB Balance graph above left shows, there was an excess of both red and blue at the higher end, whilst green was underpowered across the entire scale. As a result there was a push towards magenta, especially in skin tones and Delta E’s (errors) that were measuring above our tolerance level of 3; although the gamma was measuring exactly at our target of 2.2. Moving on to the colour gamut, as the CIE Chart above right shows the Natural colour mode is actually very impressive for an out-of-the-box setting. All of the colours are within the DeltaE tolerance of 3 for their overall accuracy, with the exception of cyan which is slightly above. There is some slight under saturation in green and cyan but otherwise this is an excellent out-of-the-box colour performance, which is almost identical to the more expensive TW9200.
Using the two point white balance control, we had no problems delivering a reference greyscale performance and as you can see on the graph, the RGB Balance is tracking at 100 for all three primary colours, with the overall errors that are less than 1; whilst the gamma is still tracking at our target of 2.2. After calibrating the greyscale, the colour accuracy immediately improved and we were left with very little to do. Using the CMS we were able to get the luminance (brightness) of all the colours spot on, which is important because this is the element of colour our eyes are most sensitive to. We were also able to improve the hue accuracy of all the colours but we struggled to correct the slight under-saturation in green and cyan. However this didn't have a noticeable effect on the image and the overall errors were all well below 2 and most less than 1, which is excellent. This performance was again identical to the more expensive TW9200 and these similarities continued when we measured the performance at lower saturation points. The TW7200 also proved to be very accurate, as shown in the graph below, with all the colours at - or very close to - their targets.Brightness, Black Levels and Dynamic Range
As we expected the projector was actually as bright as Epson claimed, hitting 2,000 lumens in Dynamic mode, although after calibration we measured the lumens at a still very bright 1,000. The TW7200 didn't have the same kind of black level performance found on the more expensive TW9200 but it was still capable of producing a contrast ratio of around 1,800:1, which isn't bad. The combination of brightness and reasonable blacks also meant that the TW7200's dynamic range was quite impressive for a projector at this price point. There is an auto iris included but we found it was largely ineffectual, not really improving the blacks, taking too long to respond and making too much noise.
We have generally been impressed with the video processing capabilities of Epson's projectors, so it came as no surprise to discover that the TW7200 was equally as capable. It was able to fully reproduced the SMPTE colour bar tests for both PAL and NTSC, correctly scaling the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. It also sailed through the video deinterlacing and the motion adaptive deinterlacing tests. In the cadence tests the projector continued to perform flawlessly, correctly detecting the 3:2 (NTSC - USA/Japan) format as well as the 2:2 (PAL - European) format. The projector also had no problems displaying mixed film material with scrolling video text and was able to reproduce the text without any shredding or blurring.
The TW7200 performed equally as well in the tests using high definition content and with the player set to 1080i, it correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests and showed excellent scaling and filtering performance as well as good resolution enhancement. With 1080i material the projector had no difficulties in showing video text overlaid on film based material and also handled 24p content without any problems. As long as EPSON Super White is on, the TW7200 reproduced all the video levels above reference white (235) up to peak white (255). It also showed detail down to 16 but not below it which means it's correctly reproducing black whilst maintaining appropriate shadow detail.
The 2D performance really impressed, with lovely natural-looking images that were brimming with detail.
Epson TW7200 Picture Quality 2DWhen it came to actually watching content on the TW7200, it was easy to forget you weren't just looking at the more expensive TW9200. The colours were very natural, the images had plenty of detail and the projector could deliver a bright big-screen experience. Whilst the TW7200 isn't as technically bright as its bigger brother, in its calibrated Natural mode with the lamp set to Eco, there really was no difference. It was only in darker scenes that the superior blacks and contrast of the TW9200 became obvious but, having said that, the blacks on the TW7200 were still better than DLP projectors in that price range.
We watched (500) Days of Summer and The Woman in Black on Blu-ray and both proved looked great - although the former, being brighter and more colourful, looked the best. The Woman in Black retained it's muted colour scheme but the many dark shadows within scenes didn't look as good as they did on the TW9200. If you have a very dark room or a dedicated home cinema, the more expensive Epson would be worth the additional cost but if you have a room with light coloured walls, which will washout the blacks anyway, the the TW7200 would be an ideal choice. Those who are thinking that the dynamic iris might improve matters should be aware that in testing we found it to be largely ineffectual, noticeable in operation and just too noisy.
Whilst LCD projector technology has a lot of strengths, it also has some weaknesses that are worth pointing out. First of all the fill between the pixels is larger than on SXRD, D-ILA and DLP projectors, so if you plan on projecting a very large image or sitting quite close to the screen, bear that in mind. Secondly, although it is becoming rarer these days, LCD projectors can suffer from dust blobs because the light path can't be sealed like other technologies and contaminants can get in. The better filters and fans used in the latest LCD projectors should minimise the risk of this but it is worth considering before buying one. Motion handling is also not a strong point of LCD technology, although the TW7200 was as good as any LCD projector we've reviewed. However it does lack a frame interpolation feature and whilst we would never recommend using this on film-based material, it can be handy with fast moving sports. So if you plan watching a lot of big screen sporting action that's also worth bearing in mind.
Finally there is the issue of fan noise. In the Eco lamp setting and using the Natural picture mode, the TW7200 was very quiet and it certainly wasn't an issue. We had heard reports of the noise increasing when ceiling mounted and although we use a stand mounting for reviews, we turned the Epson upside down to simulate a ceiling mount. The tone of the fans certainly changed, presumably because they were reversed, and it did get slightly louder but it was still very quiet and no worse than any other projector we have reviewed. When we switched to the Normal lamp setting, the noise increased considerably, although given the increased brightness and thus the greater amounts of heat produced, this is to be expected. However the noise was extremely loud in ceiling mode so, if you plan on ceiling mounting, using the projector in daylight or watching a lot of 3D (which uses the Normal lamp setting as a default), you might want to demo before buying.
Epson TW7200 Video Review
Epson TW7200 Picture Quality 3DAside from the increased fan noise, the 3D performance on the TW7200 was almost identical to its more expensive brother, with big and bright images that had plenty of depth and no visible crosstalk. We have been consistently impressed by the 3D performance of Epson projectors and the TW7200 didn't disappoint. The RF glasses are very effective, they were quick to charge, easy to sync and they never lost the signal. They also didn't cut out too much light and, thanks to the inherent brightness of the TW7200, the 3D images had plenty of punch to them. The colour accuracy was also very good and you can calibrate the 3D images if that's an option, ensuring an even greater degree of accuracy.
We watched the recently released 3D Blu-rays of Frozen and Walking with Dinosaurs and both discs were well served by the TW7200. The excellent dimensionality of the animation in Frozen was replicated by the projector, with plenty of depth and layering, whilst the frequent snow covered scenes were free of discolouration or distracting artefacts. Although we weren't entirely convinced by the idea of talking CG dinosaurs, the 3D background plates shot by the BBC for Walking with Dinosaurs looked spectacular with natural colours and breathtaking vistas. As long as the fan noise doesn't prove too distracting, anyone who is still keen on 3D will be pleased with the excellent images produced by the TW7200.
The 3D performance was excellent but the fans on the TW7200 were extremely loud in Normal power mode.
- Bright image and decent blacks
- Excellent greyscale and colour accuracy
- Comprehensive calibration controls
- Impressive video processing
- Reasonable quality lens with motorised cover
- Lens shift included
- Well designed remote control
- Excellent build quality
- Very noisy in Normal bulb mode
- Potential issue with dust blobs
Epson TW7200 3D LCD Projector ReviewThere's no denying that the TW7200 makes for a very tempting proposition, with an excellent level of build quality and performance at a very attractive price. The large and solid chassis is well constructed, attractive and robust; whilst the retention of the motorised lens cover is a nice touch. We wouldn't really expect motorised lens controls at this price - even the TW9200 is manual - but setup is simple and, thanks to a well designed menu system, the TW7200 is easy to use. Epson also include one pair of RF 3D glasses and the same backlit remote control, so despite its lower cost the TW7200 never looks or feels like a budget projector.
There's an extensive set of calibration controls but the TW7200 was quite accurate out-of-the-box, especially in terms of its colour gamut. After calibration it was capable of a near-reference performance, which is impressive in a projector at this price point. The blacks were clearly inferior to the TW9200 but still better than any of the other DLP projectors at this price point. Depending on your environment, the blacks may or may not be an issue but if you have a very dark room you might consider its more expensive brother. However the Epson has plenty of brightness, even in its Eco lamp mode, so it can be used in rooms with light coloured walls. Those thinking of using the dynamic iris should know that it isn't very effective and quite noisy in operation.
When it came to viewing real world material the TW7200 delivered an excellent performance, with natural colours, plenty of detail and bright images that had real impact. The video processing handled standard definition well and with high definition content the results were very impressive, especially considering the price. The motion handling was respectable for a LCD projector, although if you plan on watching a lot of big screen sports, then because of the lack of a frame interpolation feature it might not be the ideal choice. However the 3D performance was also very good, with bright, detailed and crosstalk free images that had plenty of depth and punch.
So given all this, why are we not awarding a Best Buy badge? Well, although the TW7200 was very quiet in Eco lamp mode, it was quite noisy in Normal lamp mode (the default for 3D) and even worse if you ceiling mounted it. So if you plan on stand mounting and aren't intending to use the projector in daylight, it won't be an issue but if you intend to use it in the brighter Normal lamp mode, then you might want to demo first. Due to the nature of LCD projector technology, there's also a larger fill gap between each pixel which might be noticeable if you intend to project a very large image or sit very close to the screen. Finally, there's always a danger of dust blobs developing with LCD projectors, so it's worth bearing that in mind.
The Epson EH-TW7200 is a great all-round projector and concerns about fan noise aside, it delivers a very impressive performance for the price. So on that basis alone it deserves a recommendation but it sits in an unusual price bracket, just above the truly budget projectors and just below the more expensive mid-range models. It's also about to go head-to-head with Sony's new HW40ES which will cost about the same and, on paper at least, looks very interesting. Until we get the Sony in for review we won't know which is the best but, in the meantime, the TW7200 is certainly worth consideration.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels7
2D Picture Quality8
3D Picture Quality9
Ease Of Use9
Value For Money9
Our Review Ethos
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