Epson EH-TW7100 4K HDR projector review

John Archer fires up HDR, SDR and 3D on the latest addition to Epson's '4K Enhancement' LCD projector range

Epson's latest 4K Pro-UHD LCD projector promises serious bang for your buck. For £1,500, the EH-TW7100 claims a maximum brightness of 3,000 nits and contrast ratio of 100,000:1, and image sizes up to 500in. It even packs a Bluetooth output for streaming audio to external speakers, in addition to its onboard 2 x 10W sound system.

All the above, bar the 500in screen size suggestion, hint at the EH-TW7100's target market. Indeed, Epson describes it as a 'family room' projector. So can it still deliver a cinematic performance?

Lamp life is rated at an impressive 5,000 hours if run in its Eco mode. That works out at around one film every day for seven years. Of course, if you're going to be running HDR content (the EH-TW7100 can handle the HDR10 and HLG formats – no projectors to date play HDR10+ or Dolby Vision), you'll no doubt use a brighter lamp mode, which will inevitably bring the lamp life down.

Its design is a charming blend of serious and fun. The serious bits find it sporting quite a large body by projector standards around this price point, along with plenty of heat venting, two large speakers either side of the rear mounted connections, and a promisingly large lens. The fun bits are the glossy white finish and the rounded edges and corners, which ensure it doesn't look harsh on your coffee table.

Connections are dual HDMI inputs (Epson's literature is keen to point out to potential projector newbies that these can be used for a streaming media stick, such as Amazon Fire TV); two USB ports (one powered); a 12V trigger output; a 3.5mm audio output; and an RS232C control port. There's also the aforementioned Bluetooth audio feature.

Easy Install
The EH-TW7100's combination of straightforward vertical/horizontal optical image shifting wheels and an impressive (manual) 1.62x optical zoom make it easy to adapt its picture to pretty much any room layout. Image adjustments are reasonably plentiful too. You can, for instance, change the speed of the dynamic iris, the level of fine line sharpness and soft focus detailing, and overall sharpness (with thin and thick line enhancements).

There's also a very handy HDR10 Setting option that lets you trade brightness for dynamic range, plus four picture presets: Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Natural or Cinema. There's no Game preset, but the projector still measures a pretty respectable 27.6ms of input lag.

These presets don't yield as much image difference with HDR as I'd ideally have liked, presumably because the projector is running towards the upper extremes of its brightness and contrast capabilities to deliver an HDR effect. The Bright Cinema mode does, however, just about make enough difference to give you an option if there's ambient light to contend with.

Actually, you might also decide to stick with Bright Cinema even in a blacked-out room, as it delivers this PJ's all-round most HDR-looking images (without overcooking elements, as the Dynamic preset does). Black levels aren't as deeply inviting in Bright Cinema as they are with the standard Cinema preset, though. And this is significant given that the projector's black levels are its weakest point. Certainly they're nothing like as impactful as those of Epson's EH-TW9400 (which claims a dynamic contrast ratio of 1,200,000:1), and can leave dark sequences in your favourite movies looking pretty grey, no matter what you do with the projector's settings. Black levels grey over more if you don't employ the dynamic iris, too – but this iris occasionally causes quite noticeable brightness shifts, even when on its Fast setting.

With the EH-TW7100's default settings, colours can feel peaky and artificial in dark HDR areas of an image. During the scenes in Barnum's dingy apartment in The Greatest Showman (Ultra HD Blu-ray), skin tones look patchy, and shadowy areas take on a distracting green undertone.