Epson EH-TW7300 3LCD Projector Review
This is simply a bit of a bargain...
What is the Epson EH-TW7300?The EH-TW7300 is Epson’s latest mid-range 3LCD projector that this year includes the ability to accept 4K Ultra HD footage and the projector uses a ‘faux’ pixel shift mode to create a 3840 x 2160p image from its 1080p 0.74 inch D9 chips. This is very similar technology to JVC’s eShift which does exactly the same thing. The TW7300 can also support High Dynamic Range (HDR) and the projector, whilst bright, cannot display HDR in the same way as a TV display can. However we will cover that aspect in more detail later in the review. Epson also boast that the projector can display DCI-P3 colour which would make it a good budget choice for watching Ultra HD Blu-rays. The addition of ten memories for the lens memory function is good news for those who use scope ratio screens.
So with quite a step up compared to the features on previous models and support for 4K Ultra HD sources, can the Epson prove to be the best entry level projector available yet? Let’s find out.
Design, Connections and ControlThe first thing that will be instantly apparent with the TW7300 is the size of this beast. It is wider and higher than our reference JVC DLA-X7000 and that is no small potato. The EH-TW7300 measures in at 520 x 450 x 170mm (W x D x H) and weighs 11Kg and comes in white. The fact that it appears to be white only might be an issue for the few who have bat cave cinema rooms, but for those using a multipurpose room it should fit in nicely, bolted to the ceiling, if you can get past the size of the thing!
The design is also typical Epson with the good quality lens centrally mounted and the vents to each side of the front plate. There are adjustable feet to the bottom and the emitter and remote sensor to the bottom right. A surprise at this price level is the use of an electronic lens cover which moves in and out when powered on and off. This will protect from dust when the projector is not in use, but it will not completely stop dust getting into the optics which are not sealed, so bear that in mind when installing the projector. Another plus point here and again a rarity at the price point is the use of fully automated and motorised lens shift, zoom and focus controls which also allows the TW7300 to have ten memories for full lens memory functions for those with scope screens.
From the front of the projector we move to the right hand side and find power and source buttons next to a closed flap behind which are menu and access keys should you misplace the remote control. Above this is a blue coloured light indicating the projector is powered on and also next to this are two further lights for warning about lamp issues and overheating. To the rear of the top plate is another receiver for the remote IR should you ceiling mount the unit.
Around the back we have the connections which include two HDMI inputs with HDMI 1 being HDCP 2.2 compliant for 4K video signals. The only other video input is a VGA/PC connector. There are USB ports for service use and charging, a LAN port for a wired connection and a 12V trigger along with an RS232C port. The projector can be controlled using Control 4, AMX and Crestron products. The power slot is to the bottom rear of the connections area.
The provided remote control is quite a chunky plastic affair that fits neatly in the hand and has a good weight to it. There is a logical layout to the remote with the power on/off and backlight keys to the very top of the unit. Then underneath these are the source selection inputs and below that some player controls that should work via CEC or similar. The main controls of the projector are in the center and these keys are larger than the rest and easy to reach with your thumb. We have directional keys and a central enter button flanked by Menu, ESC and other well used options. Finally to the bottom you have the lens memory option including two memory keys (useful for 16:9 on one and 2.40:1 on the other) and direct picture controls. Overall it is a useful if slightly large affair but it is backlit and does the job well.
A motorised lens shift and cover are unheard of at this price point
Features and SpecificationThe Epson EH-TW7300 is a 1080p 3LCD projector using 0.74inch MLA D9 chips that offers compatibility with 4K Ultra HD HDR content by using the company’s 4K enhancement technology. This shifts the pixels in the 1080p image by 0.5 pixels diagonally to double the resolution to 3840 x 2160 say Epson, making the projector compatible with 4K video signals. There is one HDCP 2.2 compliant HDMI input on the rear of the projector to allow sources, such as an UHD Blu-ray player, to feed a 3840 x 2160 HDR image into the TW7300. This is very similar to the JVC eShift technology and as we use a X7000 as our reference comparison machine here, we are very familiar with the technology and the image it produces. Epson also claim that the TW7300 can reach the DCI colour gamut with the use of a filter along with 10bit processing on-board and a claimed brightness of 2,300 lumens.
The Epson has five picture mode selections – Dynamic, Natural, Cinema, Digital Cinema and Bright Cinema along with an additional two 3D presents. As well as normal active 3D images it can also convert 2D programing into 3D and all 3D viewing is in 1080p mode and not available in the 4K enhanced mode. Sadly the projector doesn’t come with any glasses in the box so you will need to purchase these separately.
There is also a frame interpolation feature for smooth video reproduction as well as an intelligent iris with two settings available. Other picture enhancing can be done with the 5 image presets under the 4K enhancement selector and includes Noise Reduction, Super Resolution and Detail Enhancement. All of these settings do change the image so will be a personal preference choice to use them and they can all be switched off for those who don’t want them. There are also calibration controls available with full White Balance and Colour Management Systems (CMS) on-board along with a Gamma editor.
The fully motorised lens shift, zoom and focus controls mean that there is the opportunity to use the lens memory functions with a 2.40:1 screen. You set the 16:9 image area in the centre of the screen with correct focus, then zoom and shift that out to fill the 2.40:1 screen redoing the focus and then save them as Memory 1 (16:9) and Memory 2 (2.40:1) so you can swap between the two using the Lens 1 and Lens 2 buttons on the remote. It is fantastic that we get this on the TW7300 at the price point as well as the motorised lens cover which has been dropped by far more expensive models recently. Well done Epson.
Out-of-the-Box SettingsAs always we set about measuring the best out of the box setting and presets to find those that were closest to the industry standards for Blu-ray and HD playback. We used our Klein K-10A colour meter, a Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator and CalMAN Ultimate calibration software when testing the TW7300. In most cases we would normally find that the Cinema picture preset would be the closest, however the Epson TW7300 uses a physical colour filter in the light path to expand the colour gamut of the unit to meet the DCI-P3 gamut and it does this in the Cinema preset. That’s great for UHD Blu-ray watching where the content is created within the Rec.2020 container to the DCI gamut, but for normal Blu-ray and HDTV viewing in general which is created to the Rec.709 standard, the colours are too wide and garish for that content. So we found the Natural picture preset was the closest to Rec.709 and D65 for normal Blu-ray and HD content and could hear the physical filter being moved out of the light path when switching modes. We also noticed a distinct brightness jump as the filter was removed.
So once in the Natural picture preset we set gamma at -1 for a 2.4 curve and colour temp was set to 7000K which was slightly better than the traditional 6500K selection. We also used the Eco lamp mode.
As you can see (top left) the out of the box greyscale tracking was very good indeed with just a rise of green energy towards the brightest end of the scale. Gamma was tracking around our 2.4 target with just a slight rise again at the bright end of the scale. DeltaE errors were also good with just that error above 80ire showing up as an issue. For an out of the box setting on a bulb display this is extremely good and even after 50 hours of soaking the Epson held up well to providing a very accurate out of the box preset. Moving to the colour gamut (top right) and again we were amazed at just how well the TW7300 performed with stunningly good tracking of all the primary and secondary colour points from 25% and above. There is a built-in CMS but we will only be using that to tidy up some very minor points within the tracking as the results are bang-on for a preset.
Calibrated SettingsThe EH-TW7300 comes with a host of calibration controls which allows for fine tuning of most picture attributes. Here we used the two point colour temperature controls to adjust the greyscale and the CMS to clean up the colour gamut tracking results slightly.
Looking at the greyscale results first (top left) we can see that although the tracking doesn’t look totally flat, the controls are very coarse which made things tricky but we managed to get the DeltaE errors well under the visible threshold of 3 which means that no colour tint is visible in the greyscale at all. Our gamma tracking was also good with just a slight rise at 80 and 90ire points which we couldn’t tune out even with the gamma editor which didn’t seem to work as expected at separate points in the curve. However we were very happy with these results for the Epson. The same can also be said for the colour gamut which only required some very slight adjustments to the tracking of the primary and secondary colour points. Overall the results out of the box and calibrated for Rec.709 Blu-ray and normal HD viewing were superb with images looking natural and accurate onscreen.
HDR ResultsThe EH-TW7300 has to be in the Cinema preset with contrast set to maximium. In this mode the colour filter is applied to the light path for the extended colour gamut and as it does so it darkens the amount of light coming from the projector. We also fed the Epson with HDR metadata via a 3840 x 2160 24p BT.2020 signal from the Murideo with HDCP 2.2 applied. From there the Murideo could then produce the required test patterns in the correct format, resolution, bitrate and colour.
Looking at the hardest part of the whole High Dynamic Range equation to get right, the PQ curve and luminance tracking (top left), the Epson TW7300 might not be mega bright but it does an excellent job of following the PQ curve without clipping whites and the greyscale also tracks extremely well. DeltaE errors are also very good and we were quite surprised just how well it performed here. The Rec.2020 test is more of interest than of any real impact to the image quality and a coverage of 78% is excellent if only half the story. The main result to take notice of is below.The tracking to DCI-P3 within the Rec.2020 container is important and here, out of the box and fed a UHD HDR signal, the EH-TW7300 almost completely nails it when it comes to tracking the colour points. Only Magenta lets the side down with its curve towards blue, but all the other points are almost bang on where they should be tracking, thanks to that impressive filter that Epson are using here. These results should mean that we are getting as accurate as possible results for our Ultra HD Blu-ray viewing which are mastered to the DCI-P3 gamut at this time.
Measuring other performance parameters for HDR playback (in Cinema mode with the filter) we found that in low lamp mode we still achieved very good dynamic range without any major issues with clipping and using the same sized windows as the UHDA measured a peak white of 137nits and black of 0.08 giving as a contrast ratio (on/off) of 1712:1. We then put the projector into high lamp mode and without clipping we got 210nits peak white and 0.15 black providing a contrast ratio of 1400:1 on/off.
In contrast to those results in Natural mode for Rec.709 content with the filter removed from the light path we measured an on/off of 1200:1 with 240nits peak at 10% window size and a black level of 0.2nits. That might seem counterintuitive but the filter does make quite a difference when put into the light path along with the PQ EOTF for HDR content giving better results at the black level end of things.
The TW7300 posted excellent HDR and DCI results
Picture QualityThere are a couple of points to make before digging deep into the picture quality assessment. The first point is that the black levels and shadow details at the lowest point are not to the same standard as the JVC X7000 or Sony VPL-VW550ES which we were testing at the same time in this room. There are a lot of things the Epson really impresses with, that are extremely good value for money. The black levels are the one chink in that armour. We would put them at the same standard as the Sony HW65. That is not a bad comparison and in our bat cave it held up extremely well with most content and only really struggled with some extremely mixed content where the contrast and dynamic range were maxed out and just not capable of doing any more. Which brings us on to HDR content on the TW7300 and what you should expect.
We want to make sure that we manage expectations here as we will likely be quite positive going forward from this point. HDR on any projector is not going to match any of the current HDR UHD 4K TVs out there for performance, brightness and specular highlights. There is just no way that a projected image can hit those levels of performance at 1000nits. The most you are likely to get from any currently available HDR projector (and we are testing 3 of them here during this review period) is around 250nits maximum in the highest bulb setting and more realistically around 130-190nits in calibrated modes. Moving away from the numbers there are some advantages to HDR playback on these projectors, especially when they are capable of adhering to the PQ EOTF and luminance tracking without clipping, like the Epson. They are capable of producing low level details and a higher brightness level to highlights extending the dynamic range over their normal rec.709 modes with a 2.4 gamma curve. It is noticeable and in a bat cave the improvement is there to see, even if it is subtle most of the time and you are more likely to notice the improved colours and sharpness on the TW7300.
So let’s start with HDR on the TW7300 and with everything said above it turns in a very impressive performance with UHD Blu-rays. The Revenant is a brutal watch with a never ending sense of being cold throughout and that feeling is perfectly displayed on screen with superb sharpness to the image and a very good dynamic range to the stunning vistas. Detail is slightly crushed in the lowest end of the image as the Epson struggles for absolute contrast in the blacks, unlike the Sony and JVC, but then we have to remind ourselves that you could buy 4 Epson’s for the price of the Sony. The colour performance is outstanding on the Epson and it is extremely accurate in tone and hue, highlighting its excellent DCI tracking performance. Skin tones are realistic with excellent fine detail on show and from normal viewing distances it is extremely difficult to distinguish native 4K from the Sony with Epson’s 4K enhancement pixel shift. The highlights in the image are also handled extremely well and where the JVC clips these details when tracking PQ, the Epson does not. Clouds against bright skies are visible and defined with good detail levels and a three dimensional feel. There is an obvious difference when comparing the HDR performance of the Epson against that of our reference Samsung UE65KS9500 HDR TV and as explained above they will never be similar due to the differences in technology. But that doesn’t make HDR redundant on a projector and on the Epson it holds up and makes the experience different and more dynamic than a Blu-ray in a Rec.709 mode. The fact that the Epson can take a UHD Blu-ray (or other 4K signal) and display it correctly with excellent DCI and PQ tracking and very good dynamic range for HDR content all at £2,200 is pretty amazing to be honest. And that’s before we even touch on the Rec.709 performance for the other 90% of your viewing material.
Switching from the Cinema picture preset to Natural removes the filter and we get a very accurate preset to D65 greyscale and Rec.709 colour gamut out of the box. This is important for the vast majority of your Blu-ray and TV viewing which is mastered in the Rec.709 standard. You could watch this material in the Cinema preset with the DCI colour gamut, but everything will look overly saturated and wrong as it is not mastered to be as wide. The fact that the Epson can produce such an accurate out-of-the-box (OOTB) preset to the standard is almost unheard of at this price point on a bulb driven projector. In terms of calibration it only required the smallest of tune ups using the provided tools to get the Greyscale and Gamut super accurate, but it was already superb OOTB. Another well done to Epson here!
Watching a number of our reference Blu-ray’s just confirmed what an excellent picture the TW7300 could produce with stunningly accurate and lifelike colours, good black levels and strong sharpness from the superb lens. Colours just look fabulous on the Epson along with no issues in gradation or colour banding thanks to the superb processing power. Our reference scene from the start of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a difficult scene for projectors due to the use of green within the bark and ferns of the forest. Most DLPs will show this as an almost neon tone as they lack the green volume within their image, whereas the Epson with its accurate tones manages to pull of the scene without breaking a sweat. Moving to animation with Star Wars Rebels again shows off the excellent handling of colours with bright vivid primary colours looking strong without gradational banding or over the top bleed. Everything looks well rendered and the gamma also helps to add depth. Finally moving to lowly streaming from Netflix and with the final episode of Stranger Things the Epson again stands up well with good image sharpness and strong depth to the picture, even though many of the mixed scenes do start to show up the lower contrast performance and slightly weak blacks in places. But skin tones are accurate and once again the accuracy of the colour performance wins the day and has us yet again asking how they manage to do it so well at the price point. Another superb performance!
Sadly there happens to be one downside to all this positivity and praise and that is the 3D performance. For many this won't be an issue at all as many have moved on from 3D viewing and now want 4K UHD Blu-ray content. But for those who still enjoy the odd big screen 3D adventure, projectors have always offered the ultimate screen size for this format and we hoped that the Epson would also do it justice. Unfortunately the 3D produced by the TW7300 is full of crosstalk and ghosting in almost all scenes and in the background of the image everything is out of focus and a mess. Using the 3D controls for parallax adjustment just moves the problem from the back of the screen to various points in the front of the image. I guess the TW7300 just couldn't excel at everything, but for everything else it is the ultimate bargain.
You just can't get the superb picture quality and features anywhere else for the money
- Excellent image quality with normal Blu-ray
- Very good HDR playback with UHD Blu-ray
- Superb accuracy out of the box for Rec.709 content
- Excellent EOTF tracking out of the box for HDR content
- Superb DCI colour coverage thanks to the filter used
- Incredible value for money with image quality and features
- Motorised lens shift
- Lens memory functions
- Motorised lens cover
- Good quality remote with backlight
- Shadow detail and blacks are to be expected at this price point
- Nothing much else wrong here for the money vs performance
Epson EH-TW7300 3LCD Projector ReviewFor a long time now in the sub £3,000 projector market if you wanted an accurate and cinematic home cinema projector your choice was very much limited to the HW range from Sony. The excellent HW45ES and HW65ES units provide good black levels and relatively accurate colours when it comes to image quality, but at the price point there are no automated or motorised features, everything is manual. With the EH-TW7300 Epson have really set the cat amongst the pigeons in terms of features and picture quality and are doing it at £2,200, which is simply unheard of until now.
We get full compatibility with Ultra HD Blu-ray (and other 4K sources) with the 4K enhancement feature which is like JVC’s eShift in that it shifts the pixels 0.5 of a pixel diagonally to create a 3840 x 2160 resolution for playback of 4K sources. Add to this superb sharpness from the high quality lens, full EOTF PQ curve accuracy for HDR compatibility and a convincing dynamic range to images, plus accurate colours to the DCI-P3 standard thanks to the Epson cinema filter and you are competing with machines that cost many times what the TW7300 does. In the Rec.709 picture preset the accuracy out of the box is also excellent with superb coverage of the greyscale and colour gamut, so your normal Blu-rays can also be enjoyed as they were intended. Then add in fully motorised lens controls for focus, zoom and shift along with a lens memory function for scope screens, and a motorised lens cover, and you can start to see just why the Epson TW7300 is such a special projector at the price point.
Quite frankly nothing comes close in terms of performance and features under £3,000 and the Epson EH-TW7300 is quite rightly held up as an absolute Best Buy!
MORE: Projector Reviews
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels8
2D Picture Quality9
3D Picture Quality7
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value For Money10
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