Epson's TW6100 certainly looks like it means business, and its big, centrally-mounted lens and glossy black finish all smack of a projector with serious home cinema ambitions. Its on-paper specs look very promising as well. In addition to the inevitable Full HD resolution, this LCD-based PJ claims a contrast ratio of 40,000:1, and a high brightness of 2,300 Lumens. The TW6100 also delivers Full HD Active 3D playback, with one pair of rechargeable RF-type 3D glasses included.

Tucked away within the Epson's menus, meanwhile, are such up-market features as multiple settings for a built-in dynamic iris system (used to deliver optimum contrast at all times), colour management tools, gamma and colour temperature controls, and a resolution booster.

The healthy 1.6x optical zoom offered by the TW6100’s lens arrangement makes it easier to adapt to your room layout. Yet unfortunately it doesn’t offer vertical image shift - a feature I would really expect on a £1,200 projector. A nifty slider on the projector’s top enables speedy adjustment of the image’s keystone settings, but using this will, of course, destroy the pixel-for-pixel purity of a Full HD source.

Justifying the price

In action, there are certainly times when the TW6100 justifies its slightly higher price-tag against competing budget projectors (such as BenQ’s W1070). But it’s ultimately undone by a couple of flaws.

Starting with the good news, the Epson is much stronger at reproducing shadow detail in dark scenes than its rivals. Its pictures also look more textured when it comes to handling fine detail generally, and colours appear more subtly blended and naturally toned.

The TW6100’s phenomenal brightness helps lighter sequences leap off the screen, and makes it a great option for people with relatively bright rooms.

3D material benefits from the extra brightness too; the likes of Tangled and Prometheus enjoy greater detail and depth than they do on either of our other 3D contenders. However, despite the stereoscopic system in the TW6100 using a 480Hz refresh rate, I still spotted more crosstalk ghosting around, say, the castle towers of the 3D Disney logo than I did on comparable budget models. One final strength of the TW6100 is that its LCD tech makes it completely immune to DLP’s rainbow effect issue.

So what are the problems? The first is that there’s a palpable grey look to dark scenes. This doesn’t heavily damage shadow detailing, but it does detract from the general believability of the image, as well as slightly affecting the accuracy of darker colours.

The second problem is the distractions to your viewing pleasure caused by the auto iris feature. I could often see the image flickering and shifting in brightness as the projector continually adjusted its iris to give the best contrast. Worse, I could also hear the auto-iris at work in the form of a distracting and near-constant clicking and grating noise that’s enough to make you think there’s a mouse living in the projector...

So excessive is the brightness shifting and iris noise that I ultimately had to turn the auto Iris feature off, resulting in a further reduction in the projector’s contrast performance.

In the end, despite some great aspects of its performance, it’s impossible to shake the feeling that Epson's TW6100’s has ended up sitting rather uncomfortably between the budget and mid-range projector markets, failing to seriously satisfy either.


HCC VERDICT

Epson EH-TW6100
Price:
£1,200 Approx
www.epson.co.uk

Highs: Attractive and robust design; bright images look superb; bears viewing in ambient light; pair of 3D glasses included
Lows: Very average black level performance; noisy auto-iris system; no vertical image shift

Performance: 3.5/5
Design: 4.5/5
Feature: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5