What is the Epson EH-TW7400?
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 & Control
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.
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.
Features & Specifications
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
- 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 Review
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.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels
2D Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value For Money
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