Epson's flagship projector has consistently performed well but can the latest iteration do it again?
What is the Epson TW9200?
Epson flagship projector line-up hasn't changed much over the last three years but if the performance is good, why reinvent the wheel?The TW9000 was a great LCD projector that offered an effective performance at a very competitive price. Epson were able to take advantage of their position as the world's biggest projector manufacturer to leverage off their obvious economies of scale and deliver a well made and expertly engineered product. It's follow-up, the TW9100, built on this impressive start to deliver an equally assured and capable projector that remained competitive in a tough segment of the market.Now we have the EH-TW9200 which includes all the features that made its predecessors so good and adds a few new ones. As Epson's flagship home cinema projector it retains higher brightness and better black levels, to deliver an improved dynamic range. There is 3D capability of course and two pairs of RF glasses are also included. The TW9200 also includes frame interpolation, super resolution, ISF certified colour management and a MHL compliant HDMI input. So let's see if Epson can make it three in a row.
Design and ConnectionsThe TW9200 uses the same attractive black chassis as its two predecessors and the level of build quality remains impressive. 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 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. There is also quite a bright blue LED next to the panel that shows when the projector is on, thankfully this can be turned off in the menu.
The TW9200 is straightforward to set up, thanks to the centrally mounted lens, adjustable feet and shift, zoom and focus controls. Whilst these controls are all manual it won't make a difference if you use a 16:9 screen but obviously it precludes the inclusion of a lens memory feature. The quality of the lens is actually quite good, delivering a sharp and detailed image, as well as better convergence and blacks, thanks to fewer reflections in the light path. In addition, Epson has included a motorised lens cover that opens and closes when you turn the projector on and off. It's a bit noisy and clunky as it slides in and out but it's a nice touch that helps differentiate the TW9200 from its direct competitors.
All the connections are at the rear of the TW9200 and are on a par with those found on most of the competition; with two HDMI 1.4 inputs (one of which supports MHL), 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. If you buy the TW9200W, the 'W' suffix relates to its wireless capabilities rather than its white chassis, you also get a separate transmitter that adds additional HDMI inputs.
The TW9200 comes with the standard Epson remote control which, whilst quite large, is attractively designed and well made. It includes a backlight which is obviously handy 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, Super-res, Frame Interpolation and 2D/3D. There are also dedicated controls for turning on and selecting the inputs and outputs of the wireless transmitter, if you have the TW9200W.
The TW9200 also comes with two pairs of 3D glasses that use the RF standard, 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, although we would have liked them to be a bit larger to increase the field of view. The glasses can be recharged via an included USB adapter and the battery can last up to 40 hours when fully charged, although there is 3-minute quick charge option that will get you through a film in an emergency. At the top of the frame there is an on/off switch and the glasses will automatically switch off after a certain period with no 3D signal.
The TW9200 includes two pairs of RF 3D glasses and a host of features.
MenusThe menu system of the TW9200 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 TW9200 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, the EPSON Super White control and Colour Gamut setting. 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 curves and a customised gamma where a graphical interface can be used to adjust the gamma curve at set points. The RGB control is Epson's name for their two point white balance control which is used to calibrate the greyscale and RGBCMY is their name for the Colour Management System (CMS). This 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).
As we have discovered on previous Epson projectors, the best out-of-the-box choice is the Natural colour mode, which will deliver a performance that matches 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 and yellow which are slightly above that. There is some slight under saturation in green and thus cyan, which is half composed of that primary, but otherwise this is an excellent out-of-the-box colour performance.
After adjusting the two point white balance control, we were easily able to deliver a reference greyscale performance from the TW9200. As you can see on the graph, the RGB Balance is tracking at 100 for all three primary colours, with the overall errors all less than 3 and in most cases less than 1; whilst the gamma is still tracking at our target of 2.2. After calibrating the greyscale, the colour accuracy immediately improved, especially the hue error in cyan 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 the errors resulting from this minor under-saturation didn't have a noticeable effect on the image and the overall errors were all less than 2 and most less than 1, which is excellent. Perhaps more importantly, the TW9200 proved to be very accurate at lower saturation points, as shown in the graph below, with all the colours at - or very close to - their targets.Brightness, Black Levels and Dynamic Range
Epson's brightness claims have often proved to be true and so it was with the TW9200. The projector actually hit 2,400 lumens in Dynamic mode, although after calibration we measured the lumens at around 1,200 which, in fairness, is still very bright and can certainly light up a decent sized screen. If there's one area where LCD projectors have significantly improved recently, it's their perceived black levels. Whilst not at JVC levels, the blacks on the TW9200 were certainly very good and so was the shadow detail. The TW9200 is also capable of producing an excellent contrast ratio, measuring around 5,000:1 and thanks to the brightness it delivered an impressive dynamic range. The TW9200 includes an Auto Iris but you really don't need to engage it as the native blacks are more than good enough. You can use the Auto Iris to improve the perceived dynamic range but in reality, all you'll be doing is losing detail as you crush blacks and clip whites. In addition, the Auto Iris wasn't that quiet, so depending on where you were sat, you could actually hear it in action.
We have generally been impressed with video processing capabilities of Epson's projectors, so it should come as no surprise to discover that the TW9200 was equally as impressive. 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 TW9200 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 TW9200 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 motion handling on the TW9200 was reasonably good, although this being a LCD projector it will always remain a weakness. We got about 400 lines on the moving resolution test which is what we would expect, so with camera pans you get some smearing and loss of detail. The TW9200 includes Frame Interpolation software which attempts to address this inherent weakness by using interpolation to improve motion handling. The downside is that it results in artefacts that can be worse than the motion handling itself and these artefacts are more obvious on a large screen. Frame Interpolation, especially the Low setting, can be used with fast paced sports action shot on video but we would recommend turning it off when watching film based content.
The TW9200 was able to deliver bright images, whilst retaining a high level of accuracy and detail.
Epson TW9200 Picture Quality 2DThe TW9200 delivered some lovely and highly entertaining big screen images that could more than hold their own against the competition. In fact we had only recently reviewed the Sony HW55, which is the current direct competitor to the TW9200, and there really was nothing to differentiate the two. The TW9200 produced bright and detailed images that retained their accuracy, resulting in very natural and film-like images. There was no need to resort to any unnecessary image manipulation or processing, as the TW9200 rendered the pictures faithfully with fine details such as film grain being retained. Obviously the better the source, the more effective it was projected onto a large screen - so Blu-rays looked superb, as did 1080i TV broadcasts. When upscaling standard definition content the results weren't as good but any projector is going to struggle to fill a huge screen without it looking soft because the initial resolution just isn't there.
Whilst the native blacks aren't as deep as the soon to be discontinued JVC X35 and the dynamic iris isn't as well implemented as it is on the Sony HW55, the Epson remains highly competitive. If you're room isn't ideal or you want to use a very large screen then the TW9200 has the edge over both the Sony and especially the JVC in terms of brightness. The only issue with projecting a very large image using the TW9200 is that the pixel structure will become more apparent. This is unavoidable due to the fill between each pixel on the LCD panels but it does mean that viewing distances are important. Whilst a projector this bright will obviously produce a lot of heat, the TW9200 was surprisingly quiet in operation and we had no problems with dust getting into the light path. Ultimately the TW9200 did exactly what it was designed to do, deliver bright, accurate and detailed big screen images and when watching The Wolf of Wall Street it, it perfectly replicated Martin Scorsese's over-the-top visuals.
Epson TW9200 Video Review
Epson TW9200 Picture Quality 3DEpson's implementation of 3D has been very effective in the past and continues to impress with each successive model and the TW9200 continues this tradition, delivering a highly entertaining and deeply immersive 3D experience. The added brightness available to the projector in high lamp mode makes a huge difference when watching 3D on a big screen. You really need that extra light output to give the 3D images the impact that they need but the TW9200 was also able to do this without sacrificing image accuracy. Instead creating colours still looked natural, whilst retaining a level of detail and sense of depth that was exceptional. Epson's use of 480Hz technology has been well implemented and thus the RF glasses were perfectly in sync and there was no noticeable crosstalk to distract the viewer. In fact the TW9200 delivers the best 3D images of any projector we have reviewed at this price point. As a result the 3D images were highly immersive whilst retaining plenty of punch, thus creating a very enjoyable overall experience. We watched The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on 3D Blu-ray and the TW9200 delivered all of Peter Jackson's carefully composed 3D visuals with ease, whilst the sight of Smaug the dragon filling a large projection screen was genuinely thrilling.
The TW9200 delivers the best 3D images of any projector we have reviewed at this price point.
- Excellent blacks and dynamic range
- Good image brightness, even in 3D
- Very good greyscale and colour out-of-the-box
- Reference greyscale and colour after calibration
- Very good greyscale and gamma out-of-the-box
- Comprehensive calibration controls
- Excellent video processing
- Superb 3D performance
- High quality lens with motorised cover
- Lens shift included
- Quiet in operation
- Well designed remote control
- Comprehensive connectivity
- WiHD Transmitter is useful
- Attractive design and excellent build quality
- Motorised lens controls would be useful
- No lens memory feature
- Potential issue with dust blobs
Epson TW9200 3D LCD Projector ReviewEpson have been refining their flagship home cinema projector over the last two years, with each one superseding the one before. The EH-TW9200 is another worthy addition with the attractive design and excellent build quality that we have come to expect from Epson. The are some great features, a well designed menu system and an effective remote control, whilst the inclusion of two pairs of RF glasses is a nice touch. There are plenty of connections including two HDMI inputs, one of which supports MHL, and there's even the option to buy the TW9200W, which adds a wireless transmitter and more HDMI inputs. It's a shame that Epson still hasn't included motorised lens controls but that won't be an issue if you use a 16:9 screen.
The out-of-the-box performance was reasonable but thanks to the inclusion of a decent set of calibration controls, the TW9200 could deliver a near reference greyscale and colour performance after calibration. It's also a genuinely bright projector, which is handy for big screens or less-than-ideal rooms, but it manages to deliver a decent black level at the same time. It might not be as black as a JVC and the dynamic iris isn't as well implemented as on a Sony but thanks to its impressive dynamic range the TW9200 more than holds its own. The level of detail is also impressive, largely due to good panel alignment and a decent lens, whilst the overall video processing is excellent.
As a result of Epson concentrating on the important elements of good image reproduction, the TW9200 is a great all-round performer that can deliver excellent pictures in all environments. In addition the 3D is probably the best we have seen from any projector in this price price point, making it an ideal choice if you're a fan. The main competitor to the TW9200 is Sony's HW55 but there really is nothing to differentiate the two, making it a difficult choice for anyone looking to buy a new projector at the moment. As always we would recommend demoing both projectors and then making your mind up but there's no doubt that the Epson EH-TW9200 comes highly recommended.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels8
2D Picture Quality9
3D Picture Quality10
Ease Of Use9
Value For Money8
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