What is the Epson EH-TW7300?
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 Control
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.
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.
Features and Specification
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 Review
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 levels
2D Picture Quality
3D Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value For Money
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