Epson EH-TW7400 3LCD Projector Review
At this price it's hard to fault and a total bargain!
What is the Epson EH-TW7400?The Epson EH-TW7400 is the latest entry-level home cinema projector from the company, and replaces the previous EH-TW7300. The two are almost identical in terms of features and specifications, with the only material differences being that the TW7400 has a slightly higher claimed light output (2,400 lumens as opposed to 2,300), and a slightly better claimed contrast ratio (200,000:1 rather than 160,000:1).
Epson also claim that the TW7400 is a 4K PRO-UHD model, which is the latest version of its pixel-shifting technology, and allows the projector to accept a 4K Ultra HD signal. The TW7300 also included pixel-shifting technology, so how the two actually differ is impossible to determine without a direct comparison. However, it's fair to say that the TW7400 is essentially a tweaked version of the previous year's model.
That's not a bad thing, the TW7300 was an excellent projector and the TW7400 boasts all the same features, with 3-chip LCD technology, HDR10 support, and calibration controls. There's even a lens memory feature and a motorised lens cover, both of which are almost unheard of at this price point. Speaking of which, the Epson TW7400 will only set you back £1,799. Could this be the projector bargain of the year? Let's find out.
Design, Connections & ControlIf you've seen an Epson home cinema projector in the last few years, then the EH-TW7400 will look very familiar. It is identical to last year's model with the same centrally mounted lens and air vents on either side. The projector is constructed of hardened plastic, and is only available in white. However, for reasons I discuss later, this makes sense because the TW7400 is better suited for a lifestyle installation rather than a pitch black home cinema.
It might be relatively inexpensive, but the TW7400 is a real beast in terms of its dimensions. The projector measures 520 x 450 x 193mm (W x D x H) and weighs in at 11.2kg. There are adjustable feet so you can level the image if you plan on stand mounting, along with fixtures for a ceiling bracket. There's also a motorised lens cover, which is a surprise at this price point. There are projectors costing two or three times as much that don't have this feature.
There are also motorised lens controls for focus, zoom, and shift – which makes setup a doddle. There's even a lens memory, which is another feature that's rarely (if ever) seen at this end of the market. If you use a Scope screen (2.35:1 or 2.40:1) then you can save a number of different aspect ratios and change the shape of the screen with the touch of a button. This feature is particularly handy these days, not just for movies but also TV shows which use aspect ratios such as 1.78:1, 2.00:1, 2.20:1, and even 2.35:1.
On the right hand side of the projector you'll find the power and source buttons, along with a sliding flap behind which are the menu and access keys – handy if you misplace the remote. Above these controls is a blue indicator light that shows when the projector is powered on, along with two warning lights for any lamp or overheating issues. There are two IR receivers for the remote control: one is located on the front right hand underside as you face the projector and the other at the top rear of the chassis.
All the connections are also located at the rear where you'll find two HDMI inputs, although only HDMI 1 is HDCP 2.2 compliant. There's a VGA connector and two USB ports: one is a service port and the other is for the optional Wireless LAN unit and firmware updates. There's a LAN port for a wired connection, a 12V trigger and an RS232 connector for serial control, along with support for Control 4, AMX and Crestron products. There's also a three-pin connector for the power cable at the bottom of the rear panel.
The included remote control is fairly large, but fits comfortably in the hand and is well-balanced. The buttons are laid out in a sensible fashion, and there's a backlight which is very useful in the dark. The power and backlight buttons are at the top, with the input selections below. The main projector controls are in the centre and these include navigation, Menu, Escape and other frequently-used options. At the bottom are two memory keys (useful for selecting 1.78:1 and 2.35:1) and other direct picture controls.
There's a motorised lens cover, a good set of connections, and a remote with a backlight
Features & SpecificationsThe Epson EH-TW7400 is a three-chip LCD projector with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080. It uses three 0.74 inch MLA (D9) chips that provide compatibility with 4K Ultra HD content by using the company’s pixel-shifting technology. This shifts the pixels in the 1080p image by 0.5 pixels diagonally to increase the perceived resolution with 4K content. Epson calls this feature '4K PRO-UHD', which gives the misleading impression that the TW7400 is a 4K projector. It isn't (something Epson only make clear in the small print) but it accepts a 4K signal, creating an image with a perceived resolution that is higher than 1080p.
As mentioned, there is one HDCP 2.2 compliant HDMI input on the rear of the projector, allowing the TW7400 to accept 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) images. Epson claims that the TW7400 can reach the DCI wide colour gamut with the use of a filter, along with 10-bit processing and a claimed brightness of 2,400 lumens. The projector supports High Dynamic Range (HDR10) and 3D, although the 3D active shutter glasses are sold separately. Unfortunately, Epson failed to provide any 3D glasses with the review sample, so I was unable to test this feature.
The TW7400 has a choice of five picture modes – Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Natural, Cinema, and Digital Cinema, along with two additional 3D presents: 3D Dynamic and 3D Cinema. As well as normal 3D images (frame packing, side-by-side, and top and bottom), the projector can also convert 2D content into 3D. All 3D viewing is done in 1080p and does not use the 4K enhancement feature. When it comes to HDR content, there are a number of dynamic range settings from Auto to various presets that adjust how the projector tone maps HDR content.In terms of other features, the TW7400 includes frame interpolation for smoother video reproduction. This feature can be handy for watching fast-paced sports but is best avoided with film-based content. Epson has also included an auto iris with two settings available: Normal or High Speed. The image enhancement sub-menu allows you to turn the 4K Enhancement feature on and off. There are also five image presets in this sub-menu, along with Noise Reduction, Super Resolution and Detail Enhancement controls.
There are also calibration controls available with a two-point White Balance control and a full Colour Management System (CMS), along with a Gamma editor. The fully motorised lens shift, zoom and focus controls make set up easy, and there's a lens memory function as well. You can save up to ten different lens memories and if you save the two most common as Memory 1 and 2, you can quickly access them using the Lens 1 and Lens 2 buttons on the remote.
The features are impressive, with HDR support, calibration controls and lens memory
Out-of-the-Box PerformanceThe Epson EH-TW7400 offers a number of picture presets, but in terms of image accuracy the best choice is the Natural setting. The default colour temperature is 6500K, and I used a gamma of 2.4, along with the ECO lamp mode. In that setting, I was getting a noise measurement of 21dB, which matches Epson's claims in its specifications for this projector. As you can see from the graphs below, this will give you a solid starting point that approaches the industry standards of D65 (6500K) for the colour of white and the Rec.709 colour space.As you can see in the graph above, the TW7400 delivered a very accurate greyscale and gamma performance. All the DeltaEs (errors) were below the critical threshold of three, which is the point at which it becomes difficult for the human eye to distinguish errors. In fact most of the errors are below two and many are below one. The gamma is tracking our target fairly closely and the greyscale is good, although there is a slight deficit of red, which gives peak whites a barely perceptible cyan tint.The out-of-the-box gamut performance was equally as impressive, with the Natural preset covering the Rec.709 colour space very effectively. The luminance measurements, which aren't shown on this graph, were spot-on, and the overall errors at 100% saturation were all below three and some were below one. The overall tracking was also excellent, and the only real errors related to the marginal cyan push in white. This was pulling cyan, blue and magenta off-target slightly, but once the greyscale has been calibrated the colour gamut should track perfectly.
The out-of-the-box greyscale, gamma, and gamut accuracy was excellent
Calibrated PerformanceThe Epson EH-TW7400 includes both a two-point white balance control for calibrating the greyscale and the colour temperature of white, along with a colour management system (CMS) for adjusting the colour gamut. There's also a custom gamma control for tweaking the performance in this area. It's good to see calibration controls on lower-priced projectors, and since the out-of-the-box performance was already very good it should be fairly easy to use them to improve the overall performance.
The two-point white balance control doesn't allow as much latitude as the 10- and 20-point controls found on many TVs these days, but given the accuracy of the starting point it should be sufficient. As you can see from the graph above, simply tweaking those two points immediately delivers a near-reference greyscale, with even amounts of red, green, and blue, and a smooth transition from black to white with no discolouration. I was also able to fine tune the gamma, and the resulting overall performance had errors that were all below two, and mostly below one.After calibrating the greyscale the gamut accuracy immediately improved, with white now hitting its D65 target precisely and all the colours tracking very close to their saturation targets. The luminance measurements remained spot-on, while the overall colour accuracy was genuinely impressive. The errors were now all below two and most of them were below one, so as with the greyscale this is a near-reference colour performance.
The greyscale and colour accuracy was bordering on reference after calibration
HDR PerformanceThe Epson EH-TW7400 needs to be in the Cinema preset with contrast set to maximum for the best HDR results. In this picture mode the colour filter is applied to the light path, resulting in a wider colour gamut. As a side-effect it also darkens the amount of light coming from the projector but the TW7400 is fairly bright so that shouldn't be an issue. There are a number of dynamic range settings, but the default is Auto. There's also an Auto Bright, which adjusts the tone mapping and can be useful with darker films. There are four HDR presets as well, two of which match Auto and Auto Bright, while the other two apply slightly different tone maps.When it comes to HDR, projectors usually struggle because they simply don't have the brightness compared to a modern TV. Even a very bright projector won't get any higher than 300 nits, and due to the nature of projection itself the idea of delivering specular highlights is basically impossible. So how successful a projector is at handling HDR will depend on how effectively it tracks the PQ (Perceptual Quantiser) EOTF (Eltro-Optical Transfer Function).
This is generally the hardest thing for a projector to get right, and while the TW7400 isn't as bright as a TV it did an excellent job of tracking the PQ curve without clipping whites. The greyscale was also very good, with the three primary colours roughly equal and the errors around the visible threshold of three. The curve does deviate from the PQ curve slightly at around 30-50 IRE but, otherwise, this is a great performance.
However, you might find it best to experiment with the various Dynamic Range presets, because when a display tracks the PQ curve closely, it can sometimes result in dark scenes appearing too dark. A different HDR setting that deliberately deviates from the PQ curve might lighten up certain dark scenes but it will also clip some of the highlights, so there is a trade-off. If a scene appears too dark, don't be tempted to select the SDR setting; while it might lighten everything that's because it's applying a regular gamma curve and thus completely changing the intended look of the film.
In terms of the HDR colour performance, the TW7400 also impressed with a native gamut that covered 72% of Rec.2020 and 98% of DCI-P3. As you can see from the graph above, it also tracked DCI-P3 within the Rec.2020 container very well. It isn't perfect, but the majority of colours are close to their saturation targets. When combined with the excellent tracking of the PQ curve, the result is a decent HDR performance, aside from the usual limitations associated with projectors.
In terms of these limitations, I found that the low lamp mode was bright enough to deliver a very good dynamic range performance without any major issues with clipping or excessive noise. If you choose the brighter lamp modes, the noise becomes excessive and distracting. I measured peak white at 145 nits and black at 0.07 giving an on/off contrast ratio of 2071:1. For comparison the high lamp mode delivered 220 nits without clipping but additional noise aside, the black level also jumped up to 0.15 nits. This resulted in an on/off contrast ratio of 1467:1.
The Cinema picture mode uses a filter which reduces the light output, as a result the measurements for the Natural picture were slightly different. The peak brightness jumped up to 250 nits, but so did the black level which now measured 0.19 nits, resulting in an on/off contrast ratio of 1316:1. So the colour filter does make quite a difference to the peak brightness, but the black level is better with it in place, partly due to the reduced light output but also thanks to benefits resulting from HDR and the PQ curve.
Epson's claims of 200,000:1 contrast ratios are based on using the auto iris, but I found it did nothing to actually improve the perceived black levels and shadow detail, and on occasion you could see it working, especially when there was a sudden change in brightness.
The HDR performance was decent, but projectors always struggle in this area
Picture QualityAs you've probably already surmised, the Epson EH-TW7400 is a highly competent projector when it comes to both SDR and HDR. The company has done an excellent job of getting the basics right. That means it delivers an accurate picture in terms of the industry standards for SDR, and it can produce an HDR image that tone maps effectively and covers the format's wider colour gamut.
There are other areas where the TW7400 impresses, especially given the price point. For a start, Epson uses a decent lens, which is important for a sharp and detailed image. The screen uniformity is also very good, and the fact that the projector uses three LCD panels means there's no need for a colour wheel, The panel alignment was also good, although if there is any misalignment there are controls to correct it.
So far so good, so are there any negatives? Of course there are, no display is perfect, especially one that costs less than £2,000. The biggest issue with the TW7400 is its black levels and shadow detail, both of which are poor. That's not a huge surprise, delivering decent blacks has never been a strong point of LCD but even for a projector that uses this technology the TW7400 is disappointing.
However, this is less of an issue than you might at first think. The weakness of the black levels and lack of detail in shadows was obvious in my pitch black home cinema, but the TW7400 is unlikely to be used in such an environment. In fact, if you are building a blacked home cinema, I'd strongly recommend that you look at one of the JVC projectors.
In reality, the TW7400 is likely to be used in a room with light coloured or even white walls and ceiling. In such an environment reflected light will wash out the contrast, so the poor blacks and lack of shadow detail are less of an issue. In these circumstances, the brightness of the projector is more of an issue, and the Epson has no problems here. The fact it is white also makes more sense in a lifestyle installation.
In terms of other possible negatives, these also relate to inherent limitations in LCD technology. First of all, the gap between the pixels on an LCD panel are larger, which means that depending on your screen size and viewing distance the pixels might be apparent. This shouldn't be an issue if you're sat a sensible distance from the screen. The other potential issue is that since the light path isn't sealed, you could get dust blobs. However, if you're careful and keep the room clean that shouldn't be a problem.
I've already mentioned that projectors aren't ideal for HDR, so don't expect the same kind of experience that you would get from a modern HDR TV in terms of performance, brightness and specular highlights. A projector can still benefit from the increased resolution, 10-bit video depth, and wider colour gamut, but it will always struggle when it comes to dynamic range.
So how does the TW7400 actually look with SDR content? In a word it was excellent. Watching Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World on Blu-ray immediately revealed the accuracy of the image. The film opens in black and white, which was clean and free of any discolouration. When the image shifted to colour the trees, fields and skin tones all looked very natural. The image was sharp, detailed, and free of any artefacts, while in the brighter screens the blacks appeared very good. Ridley Scott knows how to shoot a film, and the Epson rendered the images with a pleasing confidence.
The motion handling was also very good, with the 24p source appearing free of any judder of other issues. If you watch a lot of sport you might want to use the frame interpolation feature, which results in smoother motion. However, I would strongly recommend turning this off with TV dramas and films, otherwise they'll end up looking like cheap video. The only area where the TW7400 struggled was in terms of dark scenes, where the blacks were more of a dark grey and there was some crush in the shadows. However, in all other respects the Epson produced some lovely SDR images that are sure to please.
I then watched the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery which is streamed in 1080p but, unusually, is also encoded with HDR. The show has a serious budget and the money is most definitely up on the screen. The TW7400 delivered all the detail in the 1080p image, but also reproduced the highly colourful 2.35:1 images with skill. The result was a very enjoyable picture, and the colour filter had the added bonus of making the blacks look slightly better. A touch of a button on the remote and the aspect ratio switched to 1.78:1 for an episode of The Punisher. The level of detail was very impressive, while the colours looked saturated but natural, with good flesh tones and a deep red in the copious amounts of blood.
Finally I moved on to some 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays, starting with The House With a Clock in its Walls. This kid's comedy about warlocks and witches makes extensive use of colour to recreate its 1960s setting, and the TW7400 handled this extremely well. The outdoor scenes looked very good, with a superb sense of dynamic range and contrast in the image. However, the numerous scenes inside the titular house could look rather dark, and I found myself experimenting with the different dynamic range settings to try and bring more detail out of the gloomy interiors without adversely affecting the artistic intention.
Another 4K disc that I watched was The Predator, and here director Shane Black has used much brighter lighting, even in the numerous nighttime scenes. The result was some genuinely impressive images with the TW7400 squeezing as much detail as possible out of the 4K source, and a total lack of banding thanks to the 10-bit video. The colours remained both nuanced and saturated, while the dynamic range often gave the picture more impact. Blacks remained weak, but this wasn't as obvious as it was when watching The House With a Clock in its Walls. Overall, the TW7400 proved very effective with both SDR and HDR content.
The image was generally impressive, but the blacks and shadow detail proved disappointing
- Great SDR performance
- Decent HDR performance
- Excellent accuracy out-of-the-box
- Impressive calibrated image
- Lens memory feature
- Motorised lens cover
- Backlit remote control
- Fantastic price
- Blacks and shadow detail are poor
Epson EH-TW7400 3LCD Projector ReviewThe Epson EH-TW7400 is nothing short of a bargain, and sets a new standard for features and performance at the lower end of the projector market. Last year's EH-TW7300 set the bar fairly high, and although the TW7400 isn't really any different it carries over the same winning combination of image quality, feature-set and value for money.
When the TW7400 was first launched towards the end of last year, it was priced at £2,199. That was already very competitive, but a recent price reduction means you can pick-up the Epson for just £1,799. That's a seriously attractive price when you consider it can accept a 4K signal thanks to pixel shifting, supports 3D and HDR, has calibration controls, a backlit remote, a lens memory and even a motorised lens cover.
It's also a great performer, with an impressive level of image accuracy out of the box. This could be improved by using the included calibration controls and the resulting SDR images were excellent. The lens delivered plenty of sharpness and detail, the image uniformity was good, and the motion was fine (although there is a frame interpolation feature if necessary).
The TW7400 uses pixel-shifting to allow it to accept a 4K signal, and its HDR performance was very good for a projector - it tone maps well, covers a wide colour gamut and tracks reasonably accurately. The Epson isn't perfect, its black levels and shadow detail are both poor, there's a possibility of dust blobs, and depending on the screen size and viewing distance the pixel structure might be apparent.
However, compared to the competition, this projector is hard to fault. Yes you could pick up the BenQ W1700 4K projector for around £1,000 and it will have better motion handling and a sharper image. However it won't be able to cover the Rec.709 colour gamut properly, let alone DCI-P3, nor will it have motorised lens controls or a memory feature. It will also suffer from poor blacks and shadow detail, as well as rainbows and noise from the colour wheel. So, if you're in the market for a sub-£2,000 projector, the Epson EH-TW7400 is a complete no-brainer.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,799.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels8
2D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box9
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value For Money10
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