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I have a dream. This dream involves a garage, a set of large speakers, a large screen, a projector, and a tub of the world's best popcorn. We’re talking Home Cinema.
It is in this kind of environment that I hope, one day, to be able to immerse myself in films and games the way they're meant to be. Of course, there’s always going to be something to be said about going to a public cinema – but usually what you get from the experience are the precise details of Sharon’s date with Dave, and a chance for you to sample that fantastically interesting ring tone that Kevin downloaded last week. What really gets my goat though is that the instant the credits appear at the end people leap out of their seats and bolt for the door like they’ve just remembered that they’ve left the oven on, with any emotional impact that the director has been attempting to build for the last two and a half hours clearly having as much impact as Steve McClaren's half-time team talks.
Therefore, if you do have a room that you can, at least in part, dedicate to the task, a home cinema is what you need - and a real home cinema means a projector. Of course, it’s not just great for films - games both from console and PC will look amazing on a large screen. While prices for HDTVs are dropping like stones, you still won’t get anywhere near the price to screen size ratio that you’ll get from a projector. A case in point is the EMP-TW700 from Epson, which delivered a 70in image from less than two metres. How much would that cost from a plasma I dare to think.
What’s more, you can get so much projector for your money these days. Toshiba’s MT500, that we reviewed back in January 2004, cost over £2,500 at the time and you only got a DVD optimised 1,024 x 576 resolution.
The TW700 is based on Epson’s 3LCD technology, which stands as the main rival to Texas Instruments DLP. Light from the lamp is shone though three separate high-temperature polysilicon LCD panels, a red, green, and blue, and the image then recombined before being projected outwards by the lens. There’s a cool animation of this affect on the Epson website. Epson claims that 3LCD gives a better image than DLP, as each colour is present the whole time in the image, as opposed to DLP, which uses tiny rotating mirrors into fooling the eye that the colours are always there, leaving it susceptible to the ‘rainbow’ image that some users claim to see. I think of it as the difference between a progressive and an interlaced image, but in terms of colour.