Epson TW9100W (EH-TW9100W) 3-Chip LCD 1080p 3D Projector Review

Is Epson's latest home cinema projector as impressive as its predecessor

Home AV Review

1

Highly Recommended
Epson TW9100W (EH-TW9100W) 3-Chip LCD 1080p 3D Projector Review
SRP: £2,899.00

Introduction

When we reviewed Epson's TW9000 we were mighty impressed, not only was it a very capable performer with a bright and accurate image, it was also capable of surprisingly deep blacks for a LCD projector. In fact we had very little to complain about aside from the lack of motorised lens controls, and thus no lens memory, some slow HDMI handshaking and no pixel alignment feature in the menu. The latest incarnation, the EH-TW9100, appears to have an almost identical list of features and specifications as its excellent predecessor and whilst there are still manual lens controls, the pixel alignment features has at least been included. As before there are two versions of the TW9100, one with a black chassis that doesn't include the WiHD Transmitter and another in white that does. We've got the EH-TW9100W in for review, which means we can not only see how the new projector measures up but also check the latest version of the WiHD Transmitter.

Design and Features

The TW9100W has an attractive design and impressive level of build quality, with a centrally mounted lens and manual controls above the lens assembly. There are air intakes and exhausts either side of the lens and connections at the rear. The TW9100W has a reasonably large footprint and enough weight to create the feeling of a product that is well engineered and constructed. The chassis measures 466 x 395 x 140mm and the overall weight is 8.4kg. The design incorporates clean lines and contemporary styling and in keeping with this there is a moveable panel on the right hand side, which hides some basic controls. There is also quite a bright blue LED next to the panel that shows when the projector is on, thankfully this can be turned off in the menu. The TW9100W comes in white but if you would rather have black, the TW9100 is your choice and it's £300 cheaper - although it doesn't include the WiHD Transmitter.

Epson EH-TW9100W

The TW9100W is straightforward to set up, thanks to the centrally mounted lens, adjustable feet and shift, zoom and focus controls. Whilst these controls are all manual it shouldn't make any difference, although obviously it precludes the inclusion of a lens memory feature. The TW9100W includes a decent quality lens, which delivers a sharp detailed image, as well as better convergence and blacks, thanks to fewer reflections in the light path. In addition, Epson has 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 TW9100W from the competition.

Epson EH-TW9100W


All the connections are at the rear of the TW9100W, 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, a component video input with RCA connectors, a composite video with an RCA connector and a VGA connector for a PC. The TW9100W also includes an RS-232C connector for system control 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. There is a cover for the connections, although since you need to remove before connecting a device, we're not sure what purpose it really serves.

The TW9100W comes with the standard Epson remote control, which is attractively designed and well made from black plastic. It 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 usual controls, as well as dedicated ones for specific functions such as Colour Mode, Aspect (Ratio), RGBCMY (CMS), Auto Iris, Super-res, Frame Interpolation and 2D/3D. There are also dedicated controls for turning on and selecting the inputs and outputs of the WiHD Transmitter.

Epson EH-TW9100W

The TW9100W comes with two pairs of 3D glasses that use the RF standard, are lightweight, 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 can be re-charged via an included USB adapter and the battery can last up to 40 hours when fully charged, although there is 3-minute quick charge option that will get you through a film in an emergency. At the top of the frame there is an on/off switch and the glasses will automatically switch off after a certain period with no 3D signal.

Epson EH-TW9100W

The TW9100W includes a WiHD Transmitter that allows you to remotely connect up to five HDMI devices to the projector. This can be useful if your projector is a long way from your source device, providing a handy alternative to a long HDMI cable and all the issues that entails. This year Epson has added an HDMI output and an optical audio input, along with a USB port for charging the 3D glasses. The adaptor uses a provided power adaptor and is easy to setup - you just connect the HDMI devices to the adaptor, turn it on and then select it in the projector's menu. We found the range to be reasonably wide and we never had any problems with interference, allowing us to watch content through it without any issues. 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

The menu system of the TW9100W is the same standard layout that Epson use on all their current models and you can choose between the monochrome version shown below or a more colourful one. We like Epson's menu system, it is easy to use, sensibly laid out and very comprehensive. Within the main menu, you will find sub-menus for Signal, Settings, Extended, Memory, Info and Reset.

Epson EH-TW9100W
Epson EH-TW9100W

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, turning on the Frame Interpolation and adjusting Super-resolution, along with an Advanced submenu. Here you'll find controls for the Noise Reduction features as well as a control for the HDMI Video Range and the Setup Level. There is also an option for Overscan which should be left off unless you want to introduce unwanted scaling and a control called Image Processing which is designed for use with games. If you want to reduce lag when playing games, you can set to 'Fast' which bypasses any image processing, otherwise you can leave it on 'Fine'.

Epson EH-TW9100W
Epson EH-TW9100W

Within the Signal menu, you will find the 3D Setup 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), 3D Depth, the Diagonal Screen Size, the 3D Brightness (Low, Medium, High), Inverse 3D Glasses (Yes, No) and 3D Viewing Notice (On, Off). The next menu is Settings which includes all the controls for the Keystone, HDMI Link, WirelessHD, Lock Settings, Projection, User Button and Split Screen.

Epson EH-TW9100W
Epson EH-TW9100W

Then we have the Extended menu which contains all the controls for the Operation, Display, Input Signal, Language and LCD Alignment which was missing last year. From the perspective of image accuracy the most important menu is Image, where you will find all the usual controls including Colour Mode, Brightness, Contrast, Colour Saturation and Tint. There is also a Sharpness control, as well as a Colour Temperature setting and a Skin Tone control. There is also a Power Consumption control providing a choice of Normal or ECO and a control for the Auto Iris function.

Epson EH-TW9100W
Epson EH-TW9100W

Within the Advanced sub-menu of the Images menu there is the Gamma control, the RGB control, the RGBCMY control, the EPSON Super White control and Colour Gamut setting. You should select EPSON Super White in order to ensure that the projector is reproducing all the detail in peak whites. The Gamma control features a selection of different preset gamma curves and a customised gamma where a graphical interface can be used to adjust the gamma curve at set points.

Epson EH-TW9100W
Epson EH-TW9100W

The RGB control is Epson's name for their two point white balance control which is used to calibrate the greyscale and RGBCMY is their name for the Colour Management System (CMS). This allows for an accurate calibration of the primary (red, green and blue) and secondary (cyan, magenta and yellow) colours by adjusting Hue, Saturation (Colour) and Brightness (luminance).

Out-of-the-Box Measurements

When we first set the TW9100W up we initially selected the Cinema colour mode because generally we find this to be the most accurate preset. However when we measured Cinema it was over-saturated in terms of the colour gamut compared to the industry standard of Rec.709. In actual fact, we found the Natural preset to be far more accurate and so we used that setting instead. In terms of the other controls, the Abs. Colour Temp was already set to 6500K which should equate to a colour temperature of D65. We set the Brightness and Contrast to match out testing environment and left the Colour Saturation, Tint, Sharpness and Skin Tone controls at zero. We also left the Auto Iris off and chose the ECO Power Consumption mode, which is less bright but considerably quieter. In the Advanced menu we selected a Gamma of 2.3 and turned EPSON Super White to on.

Epson EH-TW9100W
Epson EH-TW9100W

As the RGB Balance graph above left shows, there is an excess of red at the higher end of the scale and an excess of blue in the middle, whilst green is underpowered across the entire scale. As a result there was some slight discolouration on a stair step test pattern and Delta E’s (errors) that were measuring above our tolerance level of 3. However, the gamma is measuring very close to our target of 2.2 and overall this is a respectable performance for an out-of-the-box setting. Moving on to the colour gamut, as the CIE Chart above right shows the Natural colour mode is actually very impressive for an out-of-the-box setting. All of the colours are within the DeltaE tolerance of 3 for their overall accuracy, with the exception of cyan which is slightly above that. You can see that white is very close to its target of D65, the square in the centre of the triangle. There is some slight under saturation in green and thus cyan, which is composed of that primary, but otherwise this is an excellent out-of-the-box colour performance by the TW9100W.

Calibrated Measurements

For the calibrated measurements we used the RGB (white balance) control to calibrate the greyscale and the RGBCMY (colour management system) to calibrate the colour gamut. We have experienced a bug in previous versions of Epson's software that resulted in the calibrated settings being lost once you changed the preset or input. However we checked for this problem with the TW9100W and can report that we experienced no such issues.

Epson EH-TW9100W

After adjusting the two point white balance control, we were able to deliver a reference greyscale performance from the TW9100W. As you can see on the graph, the RGB Balance is tracking at 100 for all three primary colours, with the overall errors all less than 3 and in many cases less than 1. The gamma is still tracking very close to our target of 2.2, although if you needed to there is a more detailed control for adjusting the gamma curve at specific IRE points. Ultimately this is an excellent greyscale and gamma performance from the TW9100W and it lays down a firm base on which to build an accurate overall image.

Epson EH-TW9100W

Thanks to the inclusion of a colour management system (CMS) we were able to improve the already excellent colour performance still further. First of all the reference greyscale is represented by the colour temperature of white, which is now hitting D65 exactly. As a result the colour accuracy immediately improved, especially the hue error in cyan and we were left with very little to do. We were able to get the luminance (brightness) of all the colours spot on, which is important because this is the element of colour our eyes are most sensitive to. We were also able to improve the hue accuracy but we struggled to correct the slight under-saturation in green and cyan. The Saturation (colour) control is not independent of the Brightness (luminance) control and as such if we increased the saturation we also increased the brightness. Ultimately we had to compromise and thus chose the accurate luminance performance over improving the accuracy of the colour. The colour errors were the result of this minor under-saturation but it didn't have an adverse effect on the image accuracy and the overall errors were all less than 2 and most less than 1, which is excellent.

Epson EH-TW9100W

The idea behind measuring the CIE tracking is to see how well the projector tracks against target saturation points as the saturation decreases. As the graph above shows, the TW9100W delivered an impressive performance at all the saturation levels. All the colours are tracking close to their targets, with most actually hitting them. As a result colours remained accurate at all saturation levels and there were no tell-tale saturation issues, such as with skin tone, that could affect less consistent projectors. It would seem that Epson have done a fantastic job of delivering accurate colours at all saturation levels with the TW9100W.

Brightness, Black Levels and Dynamic Range

The TW9100W has a claimed brightness of 2,400 lumens and Epson's claims weren't exaggerated, with the TW9100W actually hitting 2,400 in Dynamic mode. However any semblance of colour accuracy is abandoned in pursuit of the extra lumens. Of course you could argue that colour accuracy isn't as important when using a projector in a well-lit room and there's no doubt the extra brightness will give 3D greater punch. In actual fact, the brightness begins to drop very quickly as soon as you start using the ECO lamp mode (which is much quieter) and a more accurate colour mode like Natural. After calibration we measured the lumens at around 1,200 which, in fairness, is still very bright and can certainly light up a decent sized screen.

If there's one area where LCD projectors have come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years, it's their perceived black levels. Whilst not at JVC levels, the blacks on the TW9100W were certainly very good and so was the shadow detail. The TW9100W is also capable of producing an excellent contrast ratio, measuring 5,400:1 and thanks to the brightness it delivered an impressive dynamic range. The TW9100W includes an Auto Iris but you really don't need to engage it as the native blacks are more than good enough. You can use the Auto Iris to improve the perceived dynamic range but in reality, all you'll be doing is losing detail as you crush blacks and clip whites. In addition, the Auto Iris wasn't that quiet, so depending on where you sit, you might hear it in action.

Video Processing

We have generally been impressed with video processing capabilities of Epson's projectors, so it should come as no surprise to discover that the TW9100W was just as good. It was able to fully reproduced the SMPTE colour bar tests for both PAL and NTSC, correctly scaling the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. It also sailed through the video deinterlacing tests, reproducing the rotating line without jaggies except at the most extreme angles. In the motion adaptive deinterlacing test the performance remained excellent with all three moving lines being reproduced correctly and only very slight jaggies on the bottom line.

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 TW9100W performed equally as well in the tests using high definition content and with the player set to 1080i, it 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 TW9100W was reproducing all the video levels above reference white (235) up to peak white (255), which it was 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 TW9100W was showing detail down to 16 but not below it which means it is correctly reproducing black whilst maintaining appropriate shadow detail.

The motion handling on the TW9100W was reasonably good, although this being a LCD projector it will always remain a weakness. We got about 400 lines on the moving resolution test which is what we would expect, so with camera pans you get some smearing and loss of detail. The TW9100W includes Frame Interpolation software which, as the name suggests, attempts to address this inherent weakness in the technology by using interpolation to create better motion handling. The downside of this technology is that it results in motion artefacts that can be far worse than the perceived weakness of the LCD panel and these artefacts are more obvious on a large screen. It also creates the tell-tale 'soap opera' effect, with unnaturally smooth motion that will ruin the look of film based content.

Frame Interpolation, especially the Low setting, can be used with fast paced sports action shot on video but we would recommend turning it off when watching film based content.

Picture Performance - 2D

As always the basis of a good image starts with an accurate greyscale and here the TW9100W delivered with a good out-of-the-box performance and a reference level of accuracy after calibration. Add to that the spot-on gamma and extremely accurate colour gamut and you got images that always appeared natural and correctly saturated, regardless of whether the content was standard or high definition. As far as standard definition content was concerned, thanks to this overall accuracy and the impeccable video processing, we found the image to be very watchable, even on a large screen. As a result of the higher quality lens, the TW9100W could also 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 and as a result the TW9100W could deliver an absolutely stellar high definition image that was both detailed and accurate. Overall the motion handling on the TW9100W was excellent for a LCD projector, with 24p material in particular looking very impressive.

The one area where the TW9100W 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 a far greater dynamic range. Despite the claimed lumens, it is clear that Epson has 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 much better on the TW9100W and it can certainly deliver the goods in a dedicated home cinema or light controlled environment. As with the other models, the TW9100W 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 TW9100W is very quiet in ECO mode and had a NC reading of 22dB which is excellent. Whilst we didn't have any problems on this sample, there is always the possibility of dust getting into the light path and creating visible 'blobs', which is an inherent weakness of LCD projector design.

The superior black performance of TW9100W was immediately obvious during the camp raid ending of Zero Dark Thirty and this was in sharp contrast (excuse the pun) to the TW6100 that we reviewed immediately before the TW9100W. The more expensive projector handled the almost black scenes very well, delivering the necessary blacks, shadow detail and bursts of light. The cartoon violence of Gangster Squad was also wonderfully replicated, with bright colours and a wide dynamic range, as if Baz Lurhmann had remade The Untouchables. The digitally captured images in Gangster Squad were reproduced with oodles of detail, whilst the frenetic action was delivered without judder or any excessive smearing. Overall, the TW9100W delivers an excellent 2D image with an accurate greyscale, natural colours, excellent video processing, good blacks and plenty of detail; as such it can certainly hold its own against the competition.

Picture Performance - 3D

If there is one area where projector performance has increased dramatically in the last year, it is in terms of 3D. There's no question that to deliver a genuinely immersive 3D experience you need a large screen that fills your field of view. However the flip side is that any artefacts in that 3D image are going to be magnified by the screen size. As a result, things like flicker and crosstalk become far more of an issue and the danger is that despite the immersive nature of the large screen, these artefacts might draw you out of the experience. 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 TW9100W starts with the advantage of being a bright projector but once you add in the 480Hz panels, which allow the glasses to stay open that little bit longer, they let even more light to enter the lens but without adding in any visible crosstalk.

The result of this large, bright and largely crosstalk free image is that the 3D pictures produced by the TW9100W were excellent, providing a genuinely immersive and exciting experience. We tried a few recent 3D favourites, including Dredd, Monsters Inc. and The Hobbit 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 absence of distracting artefacts like crosstalk is also important and, as a result, the 3D images were both highly immersive and hugely enjoyable, with plenty of depth. 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 TW9100W is louder than when in ECO mode.

The TW9100W 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.

Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Pros

  • Excellent blacks and dynamic range
  • Good image brightness, even in 3D
  • Very good greyscale and colour out-of-the-box
  • Reference greyscale and colour after calibration
  • Very good greyscale and gamma out-of-the-box
  • Comprehensive calibration controls
  • Excellent video processing
  • Superb 3D performance
  • High quality lens with motorised cover
  • Lens shift included
  • Quiet in operation
  • Well designed remote control
  • Comprehensive connectivity
  • WiHD Transmitter is useful
  • Attractive design and excellent build quality

Cons

  • Motorised lens controls would be useful
  • No lens memory feature
  • Potential issue with dust blobs

Epson TW9100W (EH-TW9100W) 3-Chip LCD 1080p 3D Projector Review

Whilst Epson's EH-TW9100W might be very similar to its predecessor that's no bad thing as the TW9000W was a very impressive projector. The TW9100W retains all that was good about the earlier model and even manages to improve in a number of areas. It uses the same chassis design, with a decent quality centrally mounted lens and motorised cover. There are still manual controls, including lens shift but obviously no lens memory feature. The build quality is very good and the TW9100 comes in black or white but only the white version reviewed here includes the WiHD Transmitter. This has had an upgrade and now included 5 HDMI inputs, along with one HDMI output and a USB port for recharging the 3D glasses. If you include the two HDMI inputs at the rear of the projector itself, you could theoretically connect 7 devices to the TW9100W. The projector also comes with Epson's standard remote control and two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses. Setup is straightforward thanks to the lens controls and the well designed menu system, which now includes panel alignment. In addition the HDMI handshaking appears to have been improved from last year.

As we would expect from an Epson projector there are a comprehensive set of calibration controls and as a result we could achieve a reference performance in terms of greyscale and colour gamut. The blacks on the TW9100W were also excellent, especially for a LCD projector, and when combined with the bright images the resulting contrast ratio and dynamic range were impressive. Motion handling was also very good, especially with 24p content and the video processing was excellent. When it came 2D content the TW9100W was a fantastic performer, delivering accurate and detailed images, with good blacks and motion handling. With 3D content it was even more impressive, producing bright and immersive pictures that were free of distracting artefacts like crosstalk. Whilst the Epson EH-TW9100W may not differ much from its predecessor, if it ain't broke why fix it? In fact Epson has fixed a few minor issues from last year with the TW9100W and once you add in the excellent all-round performance, build quality and features, it makes for a hard-to-resist package. Highly Recommended

Highly Recommended

Scores

3D Picture Quality

.
9

Features

.
.
8

Ease Of Use

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
.
8

Value For Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
8

2D Picture Quality

.
.
8

Video Processing

.
.
8

Image Uniformity

.
.
8

Greyscale Accuracy

.
9

Colour Accuracy

.
.
8

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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