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Epson EMP-TW1000 Projector - Epson EMP-TW1000
Heading into the TW1000's onscreen menus, we find a neatly presented system that's reasonably easy to navigate but just a little over-burdened with options. We can readily imagine arch tinkerers ending up getting themselves - or rather the projector's pictures - into quite a mess if they're not careful.
Among the most intriguing of the options available are a handy series of thematic picture presets including two ‘Theatre' modes for home cinema purposes, a Living Room mode for viewing in a small amount of natural light, and a Dynamic mode for playing console or PC games. There's also a colour temperature adjustment in Kelvins; an auto iris function whereby the projector automatically reduces its light output during dark scenes to boost black levels; motion detection processing; noise reduction; output scaling on or off (choose ‘off' while watching HD); gamma adjustments; and a skin tone tweaker.
The sad thing is, though, that putting all the TW1000's extreme image flexibility in the context of its actual picture performance, the one phrase that springs to mind is: ‘you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear'.
In other words, no matter how much we played with all the abundant picture tweaks at our disposal, the inherent quality of the TW1000's images just isn't high enough to enable us to achieve anything truly satisfying.
The main problem is one common with LCD projectors: black level response. Coming to the TW1000 on the back of a series of DLP projectors, it's just impossible not to feel deflated by the amount of greyness that hangs over parts of the picture that ought to be black. This leaves supposedly large-scale dark scenes like the vast egg chamber on the crashed ship in Alien looking decidedly flat and lifeless, and obscures the sort of subtle background details that help dark parts of the picture look properly integrated with the image as a whole.
The greyness has a further knock-on effect with colours, with hues during dark scenes tending to look rather muted and washed out by the grey ‘wall' that stands between them and your eyes.
In fact, the more we look at the TW1000's black level deficiencies, the more we start to feel that it's not just DLP that outguns it in this crucial department; even a fair few LCD models have delivered rather more black level prowess than this.