Epson's latest mid-range home theatre projector comes equipped for every eventuality
Epson makes much of the colour output of its 3LCD projection fleet, and often with good reason – most cast images which glow with Candy Crush vibrancy. The EH-TW6600W is a good example. This latest addition to its home theatre range creates images that compete with LED TVs in terms of kaleidoscopic vibrancy. With this PJ, superheroes appear more heroic and animations more animated. Sackcloth calibration miseries may not approve, but within minutes of installing the projector I was buzzing.
This mid-range model ships with Epson’s clever wireless HDMI sender. If you don’t need such a gizmo, it’s also available without it for £300 less (the EH-TW6600). The projector sits above the high-brightness 720p EH-TW570 in Epson’s new range, and replaces the outgoing EH-TW6100.
While this Full HD offering is clearly attractive for sports and gaming, it should be considered primarily a home theatre proposition. Installation is simplified with both vertical and horizontal lens shift, a generous +/- 60 per cent and 24 per cent respectively, plus electronic keystone correction. The projector is rated at 2,500 Lumens, which is bright enough for a passable viewing experience in a partially-lit living room; of course, the 250W UHE lamp is really quite dazzling in a light-controlled cinema or media den.
Epson rates contrast at 70,000:1. The projector handles dark scenes and gradations well, although it never quite goes ultra black. This doesn’t diminish the power of its dynamics though, or the level of shadow detail available. When Longshot emerges from the swamp early into Transformers: Age of Extinction (Blu-ray, Chapter 3) to draw a bead on medical officer Rachet, every rivet and panel of his dark armour is clearly delineated. The moody battle gear of the mercenary Cemetery Wind squad is similarly defined. Yet the scene remains dark and dramatic.
The projector’s Auto Iris can aid black level performance, but while the effects are subtle enough to negate any visual pumping, I still found its constant scratchy adjustment an audible irritant and eventually turned it off. As it happens, only minor noodling from the default settings is required to get a compelling balance between black level and shadow detail. Once nailed these settings can be saved into a memory slot, of which ten are available. All can be renamed and reloaded as required, ideal if you want maximum bling for Strictly Come Dancing, but something more Rec. 709 for movies.
The projector itself is fashionably curvaceous, with a white gloss finish. The lens is slightly offset, with a hot air vent to the right and air intake panel on the side. The two lens shift dials are on the cabinet and have a rather clunky mechanical feel to them. A D-Pad and buttonry offer on body control to those that choose to simply park their projector on a coffee table or similar.
Unusually for such a light-cannon, the EH-TW6600W features an integrated 2 x 10W sound system. Typically these are the provision of sub-£1K projectors. Out of the box, I found the audio level high and even though nothing was connected the speakers were making an unpleasant whistling noise; I had to knock the volume back to zero to cure it.
The remote offers all the key controls, so much so you probably won’t need to navigate the menus too often, and it’s helpfully backlit, too. The UI itself is unremarkable in that it looks pretty much like every other Epson projector menu since the dawn of time.
Rear-panel connections include a pair of HDMI inputs, a PC VGA input, component video, composite, USB and stereo audio. There’s also a 12V trigger, which allows the projector to be easily synced with a ceiling mounted screen, and RS232 control port. For my evaluation, I ceiling-mounted the unit, using the standard rear-plate fixing points. From a distance of just over 4m I could comfortably fill a 110in screen. Focus and zoom are manually adjusted.
There’s a wide variety of picture presets available, including Living Room, Natural Cinema, 3D Dynamic, 3D Cinema and Dynamic. The latter is like being squirted in the eyes with lemon juice. The best option, both in terms of tonal balance and overall usability, is Cinema. In this mode the projector defaults to its Eco lamp setting which significantly reduces fan noise. In truth, I wouldn’t want to run the projector in anything other than Eco, as the standard operational noise is high at 36dB. Even here, it’s not exactly silent-running at 23dB, but you can at least mask it successfully with a cinema sound system.
There’s a variety of calibration options offered, not all intuitive. Epson Super White actually proves duller than the default. The Super Resolution and Detail Enhancement modes don’t penalize and so are worth experimenting with. The former adds a level of edge emphasis while Detail Enhancement draws out texture. The newly-remastered Re-Animator (Blu-ray) proves an interesting challenge for the EH-TW6600W’s picture processing. The disc features a high level of pixel noise, which Super Resolution exaggerates. It transpires that what works well for Transformers: Age of Extinction isn't right for budget schlockers.
Motion resolution is limited to around 700 lines, and there are no high-speed interpolation modes to improve this. For movies, this really shouldn’t prove much of an issue. The overall character of the image is definitely cinematic.
Epson’s HDMI switcher/transmitter is an intriguing addition. It has five inputs for all your sources, and, as well as its wireless output, another one for a local display device. It even supports MHL and has a USB port to charge 3D goggles. Audio from a transmitted source is routed through to the projector’s speakers.
There’s no dongle required, as a WiHD receiver is built-in. You need only ensure that the switcher is facing the EH-TW6600W and has line of sight. A link indicator on the transmitter illuminates to confirm a successful connection. Full HD image quality is seemingly undiminished by its journey through the ether.
The projector supports Active 3D, compatible with the 3D RF standard. It ships with a single pair of glasses, but your retailer may well offer more to keep you sweet. Its 3D performance is rather compelling. The menu for Disney’s Tangled presents a night sky of lanterns that is largely free from double imaging crosstalk. There are artefacts though, as the 480MHz refresh rate seemingly conspires to trip up your eyeballs, but overall it’s not too bad.
There are two 3D presets, Dynamic and Cinema, and while both as standard cause the fan to accelerate, you can force the projector into the quieter Eco mode. There’s some loss of brightness as a consequence, but the viewing experience is definitely better.
Overall, I consider the Epson EH-TW6600W a thoroughly entertaining home cinema projector. It's easy to set up and well-specified for the £1,700 price – without the HDMI wireless transmitter it represents particularly terrific value, so check to see if you can run a cable from your AV receiver to the PJ before splashing out. And boasting rich hues and big dynamics, it makes the most of a wide variety of content.
Its main competition is the more affordable Optoma HD50, which isn’t as well built, and the more expensive Sony VPL-HW40ES which lacks a 12V trigger. Consequently, it comes highly recommended.
Price: £1,700 Approx
Highs: Colour-rich and dynamic images; effective wireless HDMI transmitter/switcher; low-crosstalk 3D performance; decent zoom and lens shift options
Lows: Not the quietest projector around; scratchy Auto Iris; limited motion resolution
3D: Yes. Active
4K: No. 1,920 x 1,080
Connections: 2 x HDMI inputs; PC VGA input; component video input; composite video input; stereo audio input; 12V trigger, RS232 control port; USB
Brightness (claimed): 2,500 Lumens
Contrast (claimed): 70,000:1
Dimensions: 410(w) x 304(h) x 157(d)mm
Features: 3LCD projector (0.61in C2 Fine panels); built-in 2 x 10W audio; 250W lamp; 5,000-hour claimed lamp life in Eco mode, 3,500 hours otherwise; 36dB fan noise/23dB in Eco mode; 1.32-2.15:1 throw ratio; 1.6x zoom; vertical (+/- 60%) and horizontal (+/- 24%) lens shift; vertical and horizontal keystone correction; WiHD wireless HDMI switcher/transmitter; Auto, Dynamic, Living room, Natural, and Cinema modes (2D); Dynamic and Cinema modes (3D); Super Resolution and Detail Enhancement modes
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