It would seem that Epson are the last major projector manufacturer to join the 3D party, the question is have they missed the boat or are they just being fashionably late? It might surprise people who primarily associate Epson with printers but they are, in fact, the largest projector manufacturer in the world. They also make the majority of the panels used in LCD projectors, including the ones in Panasonic's highly regarded PT-AT5000. For that reason, if nothing else, a new range of Epson 3D projectors is a cause of great interest. We have reviewed a number of Epson 2D projectors recently and been impressed by both the performance and the extensive calibration controls available. Given that the Epson 3D projectors share much of the technology seen on the Panasonic and given the substantial economies of scale available to the world's largest projector manufacturer, their arrival could herald a seismic shift in an already crowded 3D projector market.
There are three models in Epson's new line-up of 3D projectors, the entry level EH-TW5900, the EH-TW6000 and the top-of-the-line EH-TW9000. The TW6000 and the TW9000 are available with or without the wireless HDMI adaptor; the model with the adaptor is more expensive, comes in white and has a 'W' at the end of the model number. The EH-TW6000W that we have for review comes with one pair of active shutter glasses, as well as Epson's wireless HDMI adaptor which allows you to connect a full HD 3D device to the projector remotely. The EH-TW6000W has an impressive set of features and with a retail price of around £1,600 it offers the possibility of both performance and value. However there's only one way to find out, so let's setup the Epson EH-TW6000W, put it through its paces and see how it measures up to the competition.
Design and Features
Epson's latest range of projectors have undergone a facelift and the new design is actually rather attractive with a centrally located lens and an impressive level of build quality. The EH-TW6000W comes in a white chassis, which would suit installation on a white ceiling, but there is also the EH-TW6000 which comes in a black chassis and might be better suited to a darker environment. However it should be pointed out that only the white EH-TW6000W comes with the wireless HDMI adaptor.
As with previous Epson projectors, the EH-TW6000W has three adjustable feet which is a very sensible approach that we wish more manufacturers would follow because it makes levelling the image much easier when standing the projector on a shelf. As mentioned previously, the lens is positioned in the centre of the chassis with intake and exhaust vents either side and at the bottom left of the lens is the infra-red receiver. We're glad the lens is now centred because it makes installation easier and the lens itself appears to be of a reasonable quality and the images it produced were very sharp and detailed. We noticed that when viewed up close there was no obvious misalignment of the pixels but the greater amount of fill between the pixels means that screen size and viewing distance need to be carefully chosen or there is a chance the pixel structure will be visible. The EH-TW6000W uses three of Epson's 0.61" D9.8, C2Fine, 12Bit Wide Panels which are 480Hz driven and boasts a claimed contrast ratio of 40,000:1 and a light output of 2,200 lumens.
There are manual controls for adjusting the zoom and focus of the image and whilst manual controls are fairly common on a projector at this price point, it does make accurately setting the focus a two man job. Unfortunately there are no lens shift controls, which makes exact placement of the EH-TW6000W very important. If you are planning on using the projector on a shelf or table it will need to be positioned at the bottom of the screen and conversely if you are planning on a ceiling mount, the EH-TW600W will need to be at the top of the screen. If you position the projector anywhere else you will have to angle it which will create keystone errors. The EH-TW6000W does come with keystone adjustment but we strongly recommend you do not use this - as anyone who has read an AVForums projector review will know - because keystone correction introduces scaling artefacts and robs the image of resolution. At the top rear of the chassis there is a basic control panel for those that are careless with the remote.
All the connections are at the rear of the EH-TW6000W which is good as we prefer that to the side connections that some projector manufacturers use. The connections are on a par with those found on most of the competition and include two HDMI v1.4a inputs, although the EH-TW6000W also comes with the wireless HDMI adaptor which means that you could connect three HDMI devices to the projector, two directly and one remotely. There is also a component video input with RCA connectors, a composite video input with left and right analogue audio inputs and a VGA connector for a PC. The EH-TW6000W also includes an RS-232C connector for system control, a LAN connector for an optional external 3D emitter and a USB connector for a memory device or a digital camera. Sadly Epson appear to have dropped the 12v trigger that was on their previous projectors. Also at the rear are the built-in speakers, although why Epson bothered with these is something of a mystery and feels more like a throwback to their data projector past. Finally at the rear, there is also the power socket which uses a standard three pin connector.
The EH-TW6000W includes the latest version of Epson's standard remote control, which is sensible and has some genuinely useful buttons. This new version is black (rather than white) but as before it has a backlight which is obviously handy in the dark, and the buttons themselves are large and intuitive to use. The remote control itself is comfortable to hold and simple to operate with one hand which is also appreciated. There are buttons for all the different sources as well as a menu button, navigation buttons, an escape button, an enter button and a recessed default button for resetting certain controls. Perhaps most useful of all are buttons dedicated to different controls such as Colour Mode, Aspect Ratio, the CMS, Memory and Test Patterns. Unfortunately the short cut buttons to the White Balance, Gamma and Sharpness controls have been dropped in favour of some new buttons. These include a control for the Auto Iris, the Split Screen feature, HDMI Link and 2D/3D. Again, our only real complaint was that positioning the Menu button directly below the Down button meant that in the dark we occasionally left the menu by accident when we meant to go down. However overall we really liked the remote control and found it to be better than ones that are included with projectors that are ten times the price.
The EH-TW6000W comes with one pair of 3D active shutter glasses that appear to be very similar, if not identical, to Panasonic's second generation glasses. They are lightweight and 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 use batteries rather than being rechargeable and there is a small on/off button on the right side. There is an infra-red 3D emitter built in to the EH-TW6000W and although you will need line-of-sight we never had any problems syncing the projector with the glasses. However if you did experience any problems, perhaps due to your screen material, there is the optional external 3D emitter.
One of the more interesting features of the EH-TW6000W is the wireless HDMI adaptor that allows you to remotely connect a HDMI device to the projector. Whether you really need this feature is debatable and there is a version of the EH-TW6000 that comes without the adaptor and is about £300 cheaper. However if your projector is a long way from your source device it might prove a useful alternative to a long HDMI cable and all the issues that entails. The adaptor itself is about 6 inches long and comes with a power adaptor of its own. Setup is very easy - you just connect the HDMI device to the adaptor, turn it on and then select it in the projector's menu. We found the range to be reasonably wide and although the manual says it requires line-of-sight positioning we found it was capable of remaining connected to the EH-TW6000W even when it wasn't. We never had any problems with interference and we watched Blu-rays and other content through it without any issues. We connected our signal generator to the wireless adaptor and were able to pass all the usual signals with no signs of degradation or artefacts. The wireless adaptor can be selected using the WirelessHD button on the remote and as with all the other inputs, it can be individually calibrated.
Menus and Setup
First up is Signal which relates to all the controls for the deinterlacing, scaling and noise reduction. There is a control for selecting the Aspect ratio as well as a sub-menu with further Advanced options. Within this sub-menu there are controls for the Noise Reduction features as well as a control for the HDMI Video Range and the 2-2 Pull Down. There is also an option for Overscan which should be left off unless you want to introduce unwanted scaling and a control called EPSON Super White which should be turned on so that the EH-TW6000W projects up to peak white.
The next sub-menu is Settings which includes all the controls for the Keystone, the Audio, the HDMI Link, the Split Screen and the WirelessHD. If you select WirelessHD there you will find all the controls for setting up and managing the wireless HDMI adaptor.
The next sub-menu is Memory and is obviously where you save all the calibrated settings to create a bespoke memory preset. There is also a sub-menu called Extended which contains all the controls for the Operation, Display and Input Signal. The fifth sub-menu is Info and is where you will find all the info relating to the signal the EH-TW6000W is receiving (resolution, scan mode, refresh rate etc.) as well as which source input is being used and the number of hours on the lamp. The final sub-menu is Reset where you can reset all the controls on the EH-TW6000W back to the factory settings.
Of course the most important sub-menu from the perspective of image accuracy is Image which is where you will find all the calibration controls including the standard Brightness, Contrast, Colour Saturation and Tint. There is also a Sharpness control, as well as a Colour Temperature setting and a Skin Tone control that is essentially an additional Tint control. There is also a Power Consumption control which adjusts the brightness of the bulb and provides the choice of Normal or ECO and a control for the Auto Iris function. Finally there is a sub-menu for all the Advanced calibration controls which we will come back to later.
Also within the Image sub-menu is the Colour Mode which allows the user to select from a series of presets including 'Auto', 'Dynamic', 'Living Room', 'Natural', 'Cinema', '3D Dynamic' and '3D Cinema'.
Within the Advanced sub-menu of the Images menu there is the [tip=gamma]Gamma[/tip] control which features a set of different gamma curve options from 2.0 to 2.4 - here at AVForums we use a setting of 2.2 for displays in an environment with some ambient light and 2.4 for fully light controlled dedicated rooms. There is also an option for 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 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 an discolouration.
Finally the RGBCMY is Epson's name for their Colour Management System (CMS) which allows for an accurate calibration of the primary (red, green and blue) and secondary (cyan, magenta and yellow) colours. The CMS that Epson use is excellent and offers control of the three components of any colour - Hue, Saturation (Colour) and Brightness (luminance) - as well as control over all six colours (RGBCMY).
Finally, in the Settings sub-menu, you will find the 3D Menu where you can select the 3D Display functions, the 3D Format (Auto, 2D, Side-by-Side, Top-and-Bottom), the 3D Brightness (Low, Medium, High), Inverse 3D Glasses (Yes, No), 3D IR Emitter (Built-in, External) and 3D Viewing Notice (On, Off).
The out-of-the-box greyscale performance was reasonable but it could have been better. As the RGB Balance graph shows, there is a large excess of red in the image, as well as an under saturation of blue and green. This resulted in some sizeable DeltaEs (errors) which were big enough to be discerned by the human eye and showed up as discolouration on a ten point stair step pattern. On the plus side, the three colours were tracking in reasonably straight lines, which should make it easy to correct the errors with the White Balance control. The good news is that the gamma is almost spot on our target of 2.4, which is a massive improvement on the gamma measurements we have seen on previous Epson projectors.
As the CIE Chart shows, the out-of-the-box colour gamut was also not as accurate as we would have liked to see, with visible DeltaE errors in all the primary colours and most of the secondary colours. There is a major over Luminance of red and blue and thus magenta, which is a combination of the two. There are also large errors in the Hue of red, green and yellow. However in fairness, we have seen far less accurate colour gamuts from other manufacturers and at least Epson have resisted the temptation to over saturate green. Once the colour temperature has been calibrated this should improve things and there is the CMS for fine tuning the colours themselves.
As you can see from the graph, after calibration the EH-TW6000W was delivering an absolutely reference performance in terms of greyscale and gamma. All three colours are tracking exactly at our target of 100 and the gamma curve matches our target of 2.4 without needing to use the custom gamma, this is a fantastic performance from the Epson.
The reference greyscale immediately improved the accuracy of the colour gamut, with white measuring exactly at the industry standard of D65. However, despite the presence of a CMS, we struggled to get the overall colour gamut as accurate as we would like. We were able to set the Luminance very accurately and this is important, as it is the element of colour our eyes are most sensitive to. We were also able to set the Colour green very accurately which is equally as important because green makes up the largest part of the visible spectrum and thus our eyes are especially sensitive to errors in that colour. However the controls for Luminance and Colour were not independent of each other which meant there was a trade-off between the accuracy in Luminance and Colour. We were also unable to correct the errors in the Hue of red and green, no matter what we tried. However, whilst these Hue errors in red and green resulted in a slight yellow tinge, the overall errors were less than two in all the other colours and the end result was reasonably close to Rec.709.
With the video deinterlacing tests the results were also excellent, the EH-TW6000W reproduced the rotating line without producing any jaggies except very slightly at the most extreme angles. In the motion adaptive deinterlacing test the performance remained superb with all three moving lines being reproduced correctly and only very slight jaggies on the bottom line. The projector also had no problems in resolving all the fine brickwork in the detail tests on both the PAL and NTSC discs.
On the film detail test the EH-TW6000W's performance was equally impressive, correctly locking on to the image resulting in no aliasing in the speedway seats behind the race car. 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 EH-TW6000W also performed equally as well in the tests using high definition content. With the player set to 1080i the projector 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.
We used the Dynamic Range High test to ensure the EH-TW6000W was reproducing all the video levels above reference white (235) up to peak white (255). This test is an easy way of spotting if a display is clipping above reference white and thus losing detail in bright parts of the image. The EH-TW6000W was showing detail all the way up to peak white as long as the EPSON Super White control was turned on. The other useful test is Dynamic Range Low which allows you to check that a display is only showing detail down to video level 16 which represents reference black. Once again the EH-TW6000W was showing detail down to 16 but not below it which means it is correctly reproducing black whilst maintaining appropriate shadow detail.
Picture Performance - 2D
The excellent video processing on the EH-TW6000W also meant it was capable of producing very decent images, even from standard definition material. Whilst standard definition content is never going to look as good as high definition material on a large projection screen, the EH-TW6000W was at least able to reproduce images that were free of aliasing, ringing and other scaling and deinterlacing artefacts. When combined with the accurate greyscale and colour gamut the results from DVDs were genuinely impressive and even Freeview broadcasts could be bearable on a big screen thanks to the noise reduction features.
However, it was with high definition material that the TW6000W really delivered the goods, producing images with a wonderful level of clarity, accuracy and detail and a genuine sense of depth. Once again the excellent video processing helped to get the very best out of Freeview HD broadcasts and with Blu-rays the quality of the images could be quite exceptional. The EH-TW6000W had no problems handling 24p material and the resulting images were wonderfully smooth and free from judder.
Whilst the EH-TW6000W could produce a very bright image, the black levels were quite poor, which robbed the image of a lot of its dynamic range. The dynamic iris on the EH-TW6000W improved the black levels slightly but introduced other artefacts and the motor on the iris was quite noisy. As well as the poor black levels, the EH-TW6000W also struggled with shadow detail, making it inappropriate for a darkened home cinema. However the bright image means that it would work very well in less ideal conditions, where the poor blacks would be far less of an issue, and in fairness this is the most likely kind of installation for the EH-TW6000W.
The only other problem we experienced with the EH-TW6000W was that the HDMI handshaking could often be erratic, with the projector not recognising some devices until we cycled them on and off. It is difficult to say whether this was a problem with our review sample or something more general but we have heard reports of similar problems from owners.
Picture Performance - 3D
The EH-TW6000W also uses the same 480Hz panels as the Panasonic and this has clearly paid dividends because it allows the glasses to stay open for 6ms which is longer than other projectors. This longer time allows more light to enter the lens of the glasses, resulting in an even brighter image, despite the glasses inherent dimming nature. The other advantage is the absence of any flicker which means that watching 3D for long periods of time doesn't cause fatigue. There is one other advantage to watching 3D, the dimming nature of the glasses means that the poor black levels are less of an issue.
Another benefit of the 480Hz panels is the almost total elimination of crosstalk, in fact in all the hours of 3D content that we watched, we saw almost no crosstalk on the EH-TW6000W. As a result of the brightness, the lack of crosstalk, the absence of flicker or any other distracting artefacts, the EH-TW6000W delivered a comfortable and wonderfully engaging 3D experience. In addition, the Cinema 3D preset was also very good, providing a surprisingly accurate and natural 3D image but also offering further calibration controls if necessary. Ultimately the EH-TW6000W delivered an immersive and exciting 3D experience that offered depth and dimensionality, along with an image that was free of any distracting artefacts.
- Good image brightness, even in 3D
- Very good greyscale and gamma out-of-the-box
- Reference greyscale and gamma after calibration
- Excellent colour accuracy after calibration
- Impressive calibration controls at this price point
- Excellent video processing
- Superb 3D performance with almost no crosstalk
- Reasonably quiet in operation
- WiFi adaptor could be useful
- Well designed remote control
- Reasonably comprehensive connectivity
- Attractive design and good build quality
- Weak blacks and dynamic range
- Out-of-the-box colour gamut could have been better
- Colour Management System not as effective as previously
- No lens shift available
- HDMI handshaking was erratic
- Some legacy features were unnecessary
Epson TW6000 (EH-TW6000W) 3 Chip LCD 3D 1080p Projector Review
The EH-TW6000W comes with a number of features, some of which are more useful than others. The addition of the wireless HDMI adaptor does add to the price of the 'W' model but it does work and could provide a useful solution to anyone who doesn't want to have long HDMI cable runs. The split screen feature could also be useful for anyone wanting to play dual player games and makes sense given the projector's intended market. However the inclusion of built-in speakers makes no sense to us and feels like a throwback to Epson's data projector past.
The menu system is basically the same as previous Epson projectors but with a few additional screens for the new features. The GUI is well laid out and intuitive to use and in conjunction with the remote control, setup is relatively straightforward, aside from the lack of any lens shift. The out-of-the-box performance of the EH-TW6000 was reasonably good, especially for a projector at this price point and the gamma accuracy was a big improvement on previous models. We have been very impressed with the calibration controls that Epson includes on even their entry models and the EH-TW6000 was equally as well endowed. After calibration, the greyscale and gamma performance were absolutely reference but we struggled to get as accurate a colour gamut as we would like, despite presence of a full colour management system. In fact the CMS did not seem as effective as it did on the previous Epson projectors we’ve reviewed.
The video processing on the EH-TW6000W was very good and in conjunction with the excellent greyscale and gamma and reasonably accurate colour gamut, the quality of both standard definition and high definition content was excellent. Images were very sharp, especially with high definition material but the larger fill between pixels means that you need to be careful about screen size and viewing distance or you might see pixel structure. Motion handling was good for a LCD projector but that really isn't a strong point of the technology.
Whilst the EH-TW6000W could produce a very bright image, the black levels were quite poor, which robbed the image of a lot of its dynamic range. The dynamic iris on the EH-TW6000W improved the black levels slightly but introduced other artefacts and the motor on the iris was quite noisy. As well as the poor black levels, the EH-TW6000W also struggled with shadow detail, making it inappropriate for a darkened home cinema. However the bright image means that it would work very well in less ideal conditions, where the poor blacks would be far less of an issue, and in fairness this is the most likely kind of installation for the EH-TW6000W. The only other problem we experienced with the EH-TW6000W was that the HDMI handshaking could often be erratic, with the projector not recognising some devices until we recycled them. It is difficult to say whether this was a problem with our review sample or something more general but we have heard reports of similar problems from owners.
The biggest appeal when it comes to the EH-TW6000W is its 3D capability and here it was very impressive. Obviously the bright image plays a major factor in delivering immersive 3D and thanks to the dimming effect of the glasses, the blacks were also less of an issue. Just like the Panasonic PT-AT5000, the EH-TW6000 uses 480Hz processing which allows the shutter on the glasses to stay open longer at 6ms without adding any crosstalk and this means that more light reaches the eye, giving brighter 3D images and also less light loss when using the glasses. As a result the 3D images on the EH-TW6000W were excellent with no flicker and almost no crosstalk, resulting in a comfortable and wonderfully engaging 3D experience. The Cinema 3D preset was also very good, providing a surprisingly accurate and natural looking 3D image but also offering further calibration controls if necessary.
The real question is how does the EH-TW6000W compare to the competition and here the answer is less obvious. Certainly in terms of both 2D and 3D performance, the EH-TW6000W can hold its own and the version without the wireless HDMI adaptor can compete directly with the Optoma HD33 in terms of both price and performance. The problem is that whilst we haven't reviewed the EH-TW5900 yet, its specifications appear quite similar to the EH-TW6000 and at less than £1,000 that projector smashes any previous price barrier. In addition, whilst we also haven't reviewed the EH-TW9000 yet, it offers the possibility of a performance that is comparable to the Panasonic PT-AT5000 and might be better suited to a dedicated home cinema.
Ultimately, the Epson EH-TW6000W offers excellent 3D performance and very good 2D images, with the exception of some weak black levels. The problem is that whilst we are happy to recommend it we feel that the very similarly specified EH-TW5900 might offer better value and the slightly more expensive EH-TW9000 might offer better performance, so the EH-TW6000 is in danger of falling between the other two Epsons.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels
2D Picture Quality
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value For Money
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