At a price of around £2,600, the TW9000 is double that of its stable mates but for the extra cost it does offer an impressive set of features including a claimed lumens of 2,400, 480Hz panels, full lens shift controls, ISF certification and two pairs of glasses. Clearly the TW9000 is designed to compete directly with the Sony HW30, the JVC X30, the Optoma HD83 and especially the Panasonic PT-AT5000E, for which Epson make the panels. The first question is does the TW9000 offer a significant enough improvement in performance to the cheaper Epsons to justify the increase in price? Secondly, how will Epson perform in the highly competitive mid-budget market, as opposed to the low-budget market which, with the exception of Optoma's HD33, Epson largely have to themselves? Well let's set the TW9000 up and find out...
Design and Features
Whilst the TW5900 and TW6000 share the same chassis, the TW9000 has a completely different design that is very attractive and offers an impressive level of build quality. The basic layout is similar to the cheaper models with a central lens, air intakes and exhausts either side of the lens and connections at the rear. However that's where the similarities end and the EH-TW9000W is larger and more solid with a sizeable footprint and greater weight. All this creates a feeling of a well engineered and attractively designed projector, with clean lines that incorporate some contemporary styling. In keeping with these clean lines, there is a moveable panel on the right hand side, which hides some basic controls in case you are careless with the remote. As with the TW6000, the EH-TW9000 actually comes in two versions, the version that includes the wireless HDMI adaptor and is denoted by the suffix 'W' and the version that doesn't. The version that doesn't, the EH-TW9000, is cheaper and comes in black, whilst the EH-TW9000W comes in white. Given that EH-TW9000 is intended for dedicated home cinemas and other light controlled environments, we would rather the projector was black in colour for both versions.
The EH-TW9000 is very easy to set up, with the centrally located lens making it simple to align it with the centre of the screen. Unlike the cheaper models, the EH-TW9000 also includes full lens shift controls as well as zoom and focus. This makes installing the EH-TW9000 far easier and whilst these controls are all manual it does allow for a greater level of accuracy than ones that are motorised. The only issue with a manual lens focus control is that it makes setting the focus accurately a two man job but that shouldn't be a big problem. Since the EH-TW9000 doesn't have motorised lens shift, zoom and focus, it obviously can't have a lens memory function like the ones found on the Panasonic and JVC, which puts it at a slight disadvantage. The use of two adjustable feet at the front and a third foot at the back, makes levelling the EH-TW9000 a doddle and we had the projector set up and filling our 2.35:1 screen in a matter of minutes.
The biggest difference between the build of the EH-TW9000 and the cheaper models, is the inclusion of a much larger and higher quality lens. The lens is one of the most overlooked areas when it comes to projectors and is often one of the most expensive components that differentiates higher end projectors from cheaper ones. Whilst a high quality lens won't be cheap, it will deliver a sharper more detailed image, as well a better convergence and blacks, thanks to less reflections in the light path. The addition of a higher quality lens goes some way towards explaining the difference in price between the EH-TW9000 and the cheaper models, In addition, Epson have included a motorised lens cover that opens and closes when you turn the projector on and off. It's a bit noisy and clunky when it moves in and out of position but it is a nice touch and helps to differentiate the EH-TW9000 from the budget models.
All the connections are at the rear of the EH-TW9000 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-TW9000 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 with an RCA connector and a VGA connector for a PC. The EH-TW9000 also includes an RS-232C connector for system control, a LAN connector for an optional external 3D emitter 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. Thankfully, Epson have dropped the built-in speakers found at the rear of the TW5900 and TW6000.
The EH-TW9000 comes with a slightly different version of the remote control provided with the TW5900 and TW6000 and includes some controls not found on the other projectors such as 'Frame Int' and 'Super-res'. Otherwise it is the same well made and well designed black remote, that includes a backlight which is obviously handy in the dark, and large buttons that are well laid out 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, including the WirelessHD, as well as a menu button, navigation buttons, an escape button, an enter button and a recessed default button for resetting certain controls. Perhaps the most useful buttons are the ones dedicated to different controls such as Colour Mode, Aspect (Ratio), RGBCMY (CMS), Memory and Test Patterns. Unfortunately the shortcut 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. As always, 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 this remote control and found it to be better than ones that are included with projectors that are ten times the price.
The EH-TW9000 comes with two pairs of 3D active shutter glasses that appear to be very similar 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. It is worth noting that you can also use Panasonic's new 3D glasses (TY-EW3D3ME) with the EH-TW9000 and these might be a better choice due to the incredibly light nature of the construction. There is an infra-red 3D emitter built in to the EH-TW9000 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-TW9000W 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-TW9000W 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-TW9000W 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 controls for Frame Interpolation and Super-resolution. There is also 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-TW9000 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. As always we strongly recommend that you never use any keystone correction unless you want to lose image resolution.
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, Input Signal and Language. The fifth sub-menu is Info and this is where you will find all the info relating to the signal the EH-TW9000W 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-TW9000W 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 that adjusts magenta. 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'. If you are getting your EH-TW9000 professionally calibrated, then there are ISF modes that can be accessed by the calibrator allowing him to create locked calibrated settings. It is worth noting that these ISF modes don't include any additional calibration controls and the ISF certification just means that the projector's calibration controls meet the minimum ISF requirements.
Within the Advanced sub-menu of the Images menu there is the [tip=gamma]Gamma[/tip] control, the RGB control, the RGBCMY control and the Colour Gamut control. The Colour Gamut control can only be accessed when the EH-TW9000 is in the Natural Colour Mode and it gives you a choice of HDTV (Rec.709), as well as EBU (European Broadcast Union) and SMPTE-C (Rec.601 for NTSC). The Gamma control 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 any discolouration.
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, turn the 2D-to-3D Conversion on or off, select the 3D Format (Auto, 2D, Side-by-Side, Top-and-Bottom), the 3D Depth, the 3D Brightness (Low, Medium, High), Inverse 3D Glasses (Yes, No), 3D IR Emitter (Built-in, External) and 3D Viewing Notice (On, Off).
This is interesting because on the cheaper models, there was almost no difference between Cinema and Natural but on the EH-TW9000 it was quite pronounced. After selecting Natural we then selected a colour gamut of HDTV which should approximate Rec.709, a gamma setting of 2.4 and a Colour Temperature of 6500K. We also chose the ECO Power Consumption and turned the Auto Iris off, as well as any Noise Reduction features. We optimised the Brightness and Contrast for our demo room and left the Colour, Tint, Skin Tone and Sharpness controls centred, although interestingly, we found that a Super-resolution setting of 2 appeared to give the best results on a sharpness pattern.
As you can see from the graph above, the Gamma Point is measuring exactly at its target of 2.4 and, as a result, the Gamma Luminance is also bang on target. The RGB Balance is not as good, with blue tracking at the target of 100 but red tracking 10% over and green tracking 10% below. As a result there are [tip=DeltaE]DeltaEs[/tip] (errors) of over 5 and up to 10 which could be seen as discolouration on a stair step greyscale pattern. However, this isn't bad for an out-of-the-box measurement and the good news is that all three colours are tracking in straight lines which will make calibrating with the two point white balance control relatively easy.
As you can see from the CIE Chart above, the colour gamut is pretty accurate with all six colours reasonably close to their Rec.709 targets. The overall errors are all quite low and most of them are less than 3 which is excellent. The luminance (brightness) errors are all very low, although there is an excess of red, blue and magenta that we will need to correct with the CMS. The hue measurements are also very accurate, with just cyan and yellow needing to be corrected. There is some under-saturation in the colour of green, blue and cyan but once again nothing major. Overall, this is an impressive colour performance and it is good to see a Rec.709 preset actually get close to the targets.
We used the two point white balance control to calibrate the greyscale and since the three primary colours were all tracking in straight lines, this proved relatively easy. As the graph shows, after calibration the greyscale is now delivering a reference performance, with all three colours tracking exactly at the target of 100, resulting in DeltaEs of less than 1 and many less than 0.5. The gamma point is again hitting the target of 2.4 and the gamma luminance is still spot on. Overall, this is essentially a perfect greyscale performance and Epson are to be congratulated.
As soon as we had calibrated the greyscale, the colour performance improved still further, with the luminance in particular now almost perfect and most of the other errors considerably reduced. You can see the reference greyscale performance reflected on the CIE Chart with no errors in white, which now measures exactly at D65. All that was left was to tweak a few areas with the controls in the CMS, resulting in a now perfect performance for luminance. Hue was also excellent with only slight errors in green and red and the colour performance was also very good with only some slight under-saturation in green and cyan. Overall errors were extremely low, with all measuring less than 2 and most measuring less than 1. Again this is a near reference performance and coupled with the greyscale, the EH-TW9000 is capable of delivering a very accurate image.
With the video deinterlacing tests the results were also excellent, the EH-TW9000 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-TW9000'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-TW9000 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-TW9000 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-TW9000 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-TW9000 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
Thanks to the higher quality lens, the EH-TW9000 could deliver incredibly sharp and detailed images, especially with high definition content. In conjunction with the lens, the convergence of the three chips was also very good, which is just as well since there was no control for adjusting the pixel alignment in the user menu. As a result of the lens and convergence, the EH-TW9000 could deliver an absolutely stellar high definition image that was both detailed and accurate. There are extensive sharpness controls on the EH-TW9000 but when dealing with high definition content there really is no point because you can't add what isn't there. The one exception was the Super-resolution control, which delivered the best image on a sharpness test pattern when the control was set to 2, at that setting each pixel wide line was perfect with no ringing or softness.
Another control that is on the EH-TW9000 but not the cheaper models is frame interpolation, which as anyone who has read our reviews will know, is something that is best avoided when watching movies. Frame interpolation adds in frames that are essentially guesses based on the frame before and the frame after, thus making motion appear smoother. Unfortunately this smooth motion looks unnatural with film content, giving it a video-like appearance. Where frame interpolation can add value is with video-based sports material, where the smoothing process can make the fast moving action easier to watch. In general we found the motion handling on the EH-TW9000 to be excellent, with 24p material looking very natural.
The one area where the EH-TW9000 is far better than the cheaper Epson models is in terms of black levels. On this projector blacks appear black rather than dark grey and this gives the image far more dynamic range. Despite the claimed lumens, it is clear that Epson have sacrificed some brightness to achieve better blacks but this is still a bright projector that can deliver an impressive degree of contrast to the image. The shadow detail is also far better on the EH-TW9000 and it can certainly hold its own in a home cinema or light controlled environment. As with the other models, the EH-TW9000 includes an auto-iris but there really is no need for it as the blacks are already good and the iris doesn't appear to actually make much difference. As with the other Epson models, it is also quite loud, so it is best left off but if you do leave the auto-iris off, the EH-TW9000 is very quiet in ECO mode and had a NC reading of 22dB which is excellent. As with both the TW5900 and the TW6000, we found that occasionally there were handshaking issues with the HDMI inputs and the EH-TW9000 wouldn't recognise a device.
Overall, the EH-TW9000 delivers an excellent 2D image, with an accurate greyscale, natural colours, excellent video processing, good blacks and plenty of detail. As such it is certainly capable of holding its own against the competition, especially the Panasonic and the Sony, and whilst the JVC still has the edge, with better blacks and a more film-like image, the EH-TW9000 is able to deliver a more accurate colour gamut.
Picture Performance - 3D
One of the reasons for increased crosstalk has been as a result of manufacturers leaving the glasses open for longer in order to let more light in and thus combat the inherent lack of brightness. The problem is that by doing this there is a danger that one eye can still see the other's image, which is essentially what crosstalk is. The EH-TW9000 starts with the advantage of being a very bright projector but once you add in the 480Hz panels, which allow the glasses to stay open that little bit longer, they allow even more light to enter the lens but without adding in any visible crosstalk. As a result the 3D images on the EH-TW9000 were some of the brightest that we've seen but there was almost no noticeable crosstalk. There was the very occasional instance but this was very rare and the only projectors that we have seen with less crosstalk are DLP’s.
The result of this large, bright and largely crosstalk free image is that the 3D pictures produced by the EH-TW9000 were excellent, providing a genuinely immersive and exciting experience. We watched quite a few 3D Blu-rays whilst catching up on a review backlog and they all looked superb but what really struck us was how bright the images were. It really made us aware of how much impact a bright 3D image can have and thus how important it is. The Cinema 3D mode also provided a reasonably accurate preset but there is also the option to calibrate the 3D image if you so wished. It is worth noting that in the 3D modes, the additional brightness is added by using a higher bulb setting and as a result the EH-TW9000 is louder than when in ECO mode.
The EH-TW9000 had no problems with both frame sequential content or side-by-side and both looked excellent. Our only complaint when it came to the 3D performance was that occasionally in fast camera pans there was some judder but this is not uncommon when watching 3D content. We tested the 2D to 3D conversion, which is another feature that is only on the EH-TW9000 and as always we found it to be a complete waste of processing power but we understand why manufacturers feel the need to play the marketing game.
Overall the 3D performance of the EH-TW9000 was excellent and at least as good as the Panasonic and better than the Sony and the JVC. In fact the only projectors we have seen with better 3D performance have been DLP based machines where the faster fresh rates and better motion handling of that technology really lends itself to the medium.
- Excellent blacks and dynamic range
- Good image brightness, even in 3D
- Very good greyscale and gamma out-of-the-box
- Reference greyscale and gamma after calibration
- Very good greyscale and gamma out-of-the-box
- Excellent colour accuracy after calibration
- Impressive calibration controls at this price point
- Excellent video processing
- Superb 3D performance with almost no crosstalk
- High quality lens with motorised cover
- Lens shift included
- Quiet in operation
- WiFi adaptor could be useful
- Well designed remote control
- Comprehensive connectivity
- Attractive design and excellent build quality
- HDMI handshaking was erratic
- Motorised lens controls would be useful
- No lens memory feature
- Pixel alignment not included in user menu
Epson TW9000 (EH-TW9000) 3 Chip LCD 1080p 3D Projector Review
If the EH-TW9000 looks good when its off, things get even better once you turn it on. First of all the projector offers plenty of brightness, even on a large screen but the blacks are also very good which results in a picture that has an impressively wide dynamic range. These improved black levels have been achieved by sacrificing some of the overall brightness in calibrated modes but the projector still offers an impressive level of contrast and effective shadow detail. The out-of-the-box greyscale and colour gamut are reasonably accurate in Natural mode and thanks to the comprehensive calibration controls, the EH-TW9000 is capable of a near reference performance. The EH-TW9000 is also ISF certified, which means an ISF professional can lock the calibrated modes once he is finished.
In 2D, the performance with high definition content was excellent, with a beautifully detailed image that boasted natural colours, deep blacks and an impressive dynamic range. Thanks to some excellent video processing, standard definition images also looked very watchable and benefited from the accurate colours and excellent blacks. In the ECO mode the projector ran very quiet and whilst the noise level picked up in 3D mode, it was still acceptable. The 3D performance was also excellent, with some of the brightest 3D images we have seen on a projector at any price. The combination of inherent brightness, the glasses and the 480Hz panel resulted in a bright, big screen 3D experience that was both immersive and largely free from any artefacts or crosstalk. Minor issues, such as the occasional handshaking problem, don't detract from what is an excellent overall performance.
In terms of its performance compared to the TW6000, the EH-TW9000 certainly offers a noticeable improvement that justifies its higher price tag. First of all, the better quality lens delivers a sharper more defined image and the pixel alignment was very good, although we appreciate this can be something of a lottery. The larger chassis of the EH-TW9000 results in slightly less noise and it also utilises a motorised lens cover. The EH-TW9000 includes a manual lens shift which makes installation far easier and it is much more flexible in terms of throw ratios. The EH-TW9000 also has a more accurate out-of-the-box preset and whilst the calibration controls are essentially the same, the calibrated results are even more accurate. Certainly the EH-TW9000 would be an excellent choice for anyone looking for a projector to go in a dedicated home cinema or a very dark environment.
So how does the EH-TW9000 compare to the competition? Well there's no easy answer to that question. Certainly the performance is comparable to the Panasonic PT-AT5000, but the Panasonic has motorised lens controls and lens memory for about the same price, which gives it the edge over the EH-TW9000. The performance is also comparable to the Sony VPL-HW30, both projectors have manual lens controls but the better picture accuracy and 3D performance from the EH-TW9000 probably gives it the edge. The Optoma HD83 is cheaper and its 3D performance is excellent but the limited lens shift, poor blacks and use of a colour wheel again give the EH-TW9000 an advantage. The JVC DLA-X30 delivers the best 2D image of all these projectors, with deep blacks and a film-like quality. However the EH-TW9000 is capable of a more accurate image, thanks to the calibration controls and the 3D is brighter and has less crosstalk than the JVC, so it's a tough call. The problem is that the current sub-£3,000 3D projector market is an embarrassment of riches and all these projectors have their strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately you will need to decide which factors are most important to you and then demo the top two on your list and make your choice based upon actually viewing the projector in action.
Overall the Epson EH-TW9000 is certainly a very capable projector that offers a bright, pleasing and accurate image, regardless of whether the content you are watching is 2D or 3D. It also offers good value of money and is more than capable of holding its own in a crowded and competitive market place. If you're looking for a projector in the sub-£3,000 bracket, you should certainly consider giving the EH-TW9000 a demo. Highly Recommended.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels
2D Picture Quality
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value For Money
Our Review Ethos
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