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Right now would appear to be a damn fine time to be thinking about buying a budget projector. For hot on the heels of very respectable budget DLP Full HD projectors from Optoma and BenQ comes an only slightly more expensive little star from Epson: the TW2900.
The first thing to say about the £1,100 TW2900 is that it uses LCD rather than DLP technology - a fact which will become very significant in performance terms, as we’ll see later on.
Another up-front observation about the TW2900 is that it’s a much larger unit than we’re used to finding at the budget end of the market. In fact, it occupies the same footprint as Epson’s hugely impressive flagship projector, the TW5500.
This might not endear it to people wanting something they can take around to friends’ houses or put into storage when they’re not using it. But the cinephile in TrustedReviews can’t help but hope that the size reflects an uncompromising approach to the projector’s optics and cooling systems. In any case, the TW2900 actually wears its bulk rather charmingly, as a perky white finish and boldly large lens array do their best to hide what’s essentially some pretty basic sculpting.
The TW2900’s rear plays host to a respectable set of connections, including the increasingly de rigueur two HDMIs. Plus there’s a 12V trigger out for driving a motorised screen, and an RS-232C port for system integration, alongside the more typical S-Video/composite video/D-Sub PC options.
Setting the TW2900 up immediately reveals an unexpected but seriously welcome surprise: the projector retains the optical horizontal and image shift ‘wheels’ on its upper edge that we also loved so much on the TW5500.
This is hugely helpful when it comes to positioning your projector, even if you’ve got a seriously odd-shaped room to work with. It should also save people who want to use a budget projector from the back of their room from the ignominy of having to prop the back end of the TW2900 up on magazines - something such people probably would have to do with both the BenQ W1000 and Optoma HD20.
There’s an important picture quality aspect to the optical image shifting, as well. For being able to move the image around optically, particularly up and down, means there’s far, far less chance that you’ll need to employ any keystone adjustment to get the edges of your picture looking straight. And no keystone adjustment means no digital distortion of your pictures.