Epson's marketing promises bigger, brighter gaming. Let's see...
What is the Epson TW5200?
The EH-TW5200 is Epson's latest home cinema projector, providing a low cost option with the promise of big screen action and increased colour brightness.We're a little sceptical of Epson's latter claims, after all the brightness of the overall white light is separate from the brightness of each individual colour. The industry standard used for the majority of the content you watch (TV, DVDs, Blu-rays) uses a set target for the brightness for the three primary and the secondary colours. The human eye is very sensitive to the brightness of a colour, especially green, which forms the biggest part of the visible spectrum. The danger in terms of boosting the brightness of the individual colours is that you end up pushing one colour, usually green, to increase the overall perceived brightness.This approach can thus result in errors in the overall colour accuracy of the projector itself. Aside from these specific concerns, the TW5200 looks like an interesting projector, with an attractive design and an even more attractive price of just £749. Of course, being an Epson projector it uses three LCD panels, has a Full HD 1080p resolution and is also 3D capable. There's even MHL support on one of the HDMI inputs, allowing you to project content from your smartphone or tablet. The TW5200 is primarily aimed at gamers but can also be used for projecting movies and TV, so let's see how it measures up.
Design and ConnectionsThe TW5200 is certainly a looker, with its gloss black finish and curvaceous chassis, whilst the build quality is reasonable. The lens is mounted off to the right and there's a cover that can be slid across to protect it from dust and accidental damage. Keeping dust out of the lens assembly is important because, as with all LCD projectors, it isn't sealed and thus susceptible to the dreaded dust blobs. The lens itself is quite small and cheap but at this price point you really can't expect anything else and above it are some basic controls for zoom and focus but no lens shift.
That means that positioning the projector will be important and there are adjustable feel on the underside of the chassis to help with this. In addition, as there's only a 1.2x optical zoom, you'll also need to ensure you have a sufficient throw distance for your screen size. There is an air exhaust vent on the left hand side of the projector, which does suffer from light spill and can get quite hot when the Epson is in use. The TW5200 can also get quite noisy when it heats up, especially when using the Normal power consumption mode for 3D content.
With its gloss black finish and curvaceous chassis, the TW5200 is certainly a looker.
At the rear you will find two HDMI inputs that support 3D and HDMI1 also supports MHL, so you can project content from your smartphone or tablet. There's a USB (Type A) port for connecting USB devices and a mini-USB for for any service requirements. There's also a VGA input, a RS232 serial connector, a composite video input, audio in for the built-in speaker and audio out. The built-in speaker is also positioned at the rear, to the right of the connections.
The remote control is quite small and fiddly and doesn't have a backlight, which makes it even more difficult to use in the dark. We much preferred the larger remote control that Epson provides with their higher-end models but obviously costs have to be reduced to meet the price point. Still, the remote as all the main buttons you need and they are laid out in a sensible fashion. The TW5200 doesn't come with any 3D glasses but if you want to use that feature you can buy some Epson's excellent RF rechargeable glasses for about £70.
MenusThe TW5200 uses a monochromatic version of Epson's standard menu system. We like the overall design, it's intuitive to use, sensibly laid out and reasonably comprehensive. Within the main menu, you will find sub-menus for Image, Signal, Settings, Extended, Network, Info and Reset. Within the Image sub-menu you'll find the Brightness, Contrast, Colour Saturation and Tint controls. There is also a Sharpness control, as well as a Colour Temperature setting, a Power Consumption control which adjusts the brightness of the bulb and an Auto Iris. Also within the Image sub-menu is the Colour Mode which allows the user to select from a series of presets including Dynamic, Living Room, Natural, Cinema, 3D Dynamic and 3D Cinema.
Within the Advanced sub-menu there is the RGB control, which is Epson's name for their two point White Balance control and it is this feature that is used to calibrate the greyscale. The purpose of the RGB control is to adjust the amounts of red, green and blue at two specific points, usually 80IRE (Gain) and 30IRE (Offset), in order to create an accurate greyscale going smoothly from black to white without any discolouration. Finally, there's RGBCMY, which is Epson's name for their Colour Management System (CMS), allowing calibration of the primary (red, green and blue) and secondary (cyan, magenta and yellow) colours. The CMS that Epson employs offers control of the three components of any colour - Hue, Saturation (Colour) and Brightness (luminance).
The colour accuracy was poor and there was a noticeable excess of green in the blacks.
We tested a number of different colour modes and found that, unsurprisingly, the Cinema mode offered the most accurate out-of -box performance. We didn't need to change the brightness contrast, colour saturation and tint controls from their default settings and we moved the sharpness control down to zero. We chose the ECO power consumption setting to make the blacks more acceptable, turned the auto iris off. Finally we found that a colour temperature setting of -1 best approximated the industry standard of D65.
As you can see in the graph above left the greyscale was tracking quite well in the middle part of the luminance scale but there was a very noticeable excess of green in the blacks and dark greys (0-10IRE). We could see this from the moment we first turned the projector on and it didn't get better as we ran in the bulb. There was also a very 'baggy' gamma, dipping down to 1.5 at 90IRE and giving the image a slightly washed out appearance. In terms of the colour performance, we were unsurprised to see that the luminance (brightness) of green was too high but there was also a large error in the hue of both green and red, whilst blue was over-saturated.
Since the TW5200 only has a two-point white balance control, we were able to fine tune the levels of red, green and blue for most of the luminance scale but were unable to do anything about the excess of green in the blacks and dark greys. We were also unable to correct the gamma, which after using the white balance control now exhibited a classic s-curve with the gamma hitting 2.5 at 10IRE and 1.6 at 90IRE. Using the colour management system we were able to correct the luminance measurements to match Rec.709 but were unable to correct the hue errors so green, in particular, still skewed towards yellow. At lower saturation levels the situation didn't really improve with hue errors in red and magenta and saturation errors in blue and green.Video Processing
In our tests the TW5200 was able to fully reproduced the SMPTE colour bars and correctly scale the full 576i and 480i images but we felt that the scaling looked a bit soft, especially when compared to Epson's higher-end models. With the video deinterlacing and motion adaptive deinterlacing tests the results were similar, with the TW5200 introducing a few more jaggies than we would have liked. However, the projector had no problems in resolving all the fine brickwork in the detail tests on both the PAL and NTSC discs. The Epson also correctly detected the 3:2 (NTSC - USA/Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European) formats and had no problems displaying mixed film material with scrolling video text. The TW5200 performed better in the tests using high definition content and with the player set to 1080i the projector correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests and showed a far better 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. The TW5200 reproduced all the video levels down to reference black and above reference white (235) up to peak white (255), as long as the EPSON Super White control was selected.
Epson TW5200 Video Review
Despite issues with the colour accuracy, the TW5200 could produce big, bright images that worked well with gaming.
Epson TW5200 Picture Quality 2DThe overall 2D performance was reasonable but the TW5200 definitely lends itself more towards big screen gaming rather than critical movie watching. One of the main reasons for this is the poor blacks, which looked very grey, thus robbing the image of its dynamic range. The projector includes a dynamic iris but it made no perceivable difference to the black levels or dynamic range and you could clearly hear it in operation - so it's best left off. The 'baggy' gamma curve also didn't help and resulted in a rather washed out appearance, whilst the level of shadow detail was limited. The excess of green was also quite noticeable in dark scenes and could become quite distracting, resulting in blacks that were essentially a green-grey. Whilst there are some games that make extensive use of darker scenes, the poor black levels won't be as much as an issue as they are when watching movies.
In other respects the colour accuracy wasn't too bad and aside from a redness to flesh tones and a slight yellow push, the colours were generally quite watchable. The level of sharpness and image detail was reasonable considering the size of the lens and true to Epson's word, the TW5200 could produce pictures that were both bright and big. The motion handling was acceptable for a LCD projector but there was a degree of smearing on fast moving objects and camera pans but this is to be expected. The TW5200 handled 24p material quite well but we definitely preferred using the TW5200 for gaming instead of watching movies. A film such as Captain Phillips was perfectly watchable on the TW5200 but a session of GTA V was much more fun. In fairness Epson are aiming this projector at the gaming market and based upon our time spent with it we would tend to agree.
Epson TW5200 Picture Quality 3DThe TW5200 uses a refresh rate of 480Hz for 3D and thanks to this and its ability to produce bright images, the 3D performance was actually very good. The issues with excessive green in the dark parts of the image and the poor blacks in general just vanished once you put on the glasses and the result was a rather enjoyable 3D experience. The bright images had real punch, whilst the lack of crosstalk and other distracting artefacts meant that your weren't drawn out of the experience. We watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and this bright, colourful confection of a film was well rendered by the TW5200, resulting in a highly immersive experience that had plenty of depth. Just how much depth was apparent when we watched the IMAX documentary Space Station, where the exaggerated 3D effects were very impressive. Despite our misgivings about using the TW5200 for watching movies in 2D, it's certainly a decent 3D projector.
The TW5200 delivered a great 3D performance, with bright and crosstalk-free images.
- Bright images
- Excellent 3D
- Attractive design
- Good build quality
- Mediocre black levels
- Excess of green in blacks
- Poor colour performance
Epson TW5200 (EH -TW5200) 3D LCD Projector ReviewThe Epson EH-TW5200 is a solid projector but it suffers slightly from trying to cover too many bases. The looks are certainly attractive, as is the price, and it's relatively straightforward to setup. The lack of lens shift and minimal zoom means you'll need to take some care but you should have big screen images in no time. The connections are decent and whilst the remote is a bit small and fiddly, all the main buttons are present and correct. The TW5200 is 3D capable but you'll need to pick up some glasses, unless you have a few compatible RF pairs already knocking around. The monochromatic menu system is the standard Epson layout, which is intuitive, well laid out and easy to navigate.
The out-of-the-box performance was reasonable with the greyscale tracking quite well, except for a very noticeable excess of green in the blacks and dark greys. The gamma curve was somewhat 'baggy' though, giving the image a rather washed out appearance. The colour accuracy wasn't great either, with the luminance of green too high, large hue errors in green and red and an over-saturated blue. We could address some of these issues, especially in terms of the luminance of the colours, but the excessive green in the blacks and the hue errors were beyond the capabilities of the calibration controls. However, the video processing was quite good and the TW5200 could handle standard and definition content very well.
The colour accuracy wasn't as big an issue with real world material as it appeared in the graphs, what was far more apparent were the poor black levels and limited dynamic range. The dynamic iris did nothing to improve this and you could clearly hear it in operation, so we wouldn't bother. The green tinge to the grey/blacks was also quite obvious, so the TW5200 wasn't great for watching films in 2D, although once you put on the 3D glasses things improved. In general we found that the TW5200 performed best with gaming, where it could produce big and bright images that enhanced your experience. If you're looking for a projector for gaming or maybe 3D then the Epson EH-TW5200 is an option but if you want something primarily for movies, then there are better choices.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels6
2D Picture Quality7
3D Picture Quality9
Ease Of Use7
Value For Money7
Our Review Ethos
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