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Epson EH-TW420 LCD Projector - Epson EH-TW420
The TW420's black level shortcomings are made to look all the more unfortunate by the fact that in many other ways it's actually a really quite decent performer.
HD images look surprisingly sharp, for instance, with good detailing and plenty of noiseless texture rendering despite the lack of Full HD resolution at the projector's heart. It's great to see at this price level, too, that the TW420 doesn't suffer badly at all with LCD technology's notorious ‘chicken wire' effect, whereby the grid-like array of the LCD panels at the projector's heart becomes manifest in the finished image. I vaguely sensed a square or two over really bright and really monotone areas of the picture, but never enough to become truly distracting, even when using a 110in screen.
More good news finds the TW420's onboard scaling doing a very credible job of both upscaling standard definition and downscaling 1080p high definition to its 720p pixel count, with minimal blurring, dot crawl or other noise to spoil the show.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, is how believable the projector's colours are. Really vibrant palettes like those found in many video games or animated films really sparkle, partly on account of the projector's unusually high brightness output, and partly because the projector's colour tone really does seem to be calibrated with video rather than PC/multimedia in mind. Even without recourse to the sliding red, green and blue adjustments noted earlier.
This preference for video colour temperatures inevitably stands the TW420 in even better stead with a typical, fleshtone-filled video scene, such as the main poker games of Casino Royale. There's only the slightest hint of the green undertone we often find at the TW420's sort of price level, and practically no sign of all of that other common, cheap LCD tendency to overstress reds and pinks.
Even colour blends on the TW420 look subtler than I would have expected to find on a 720p (as opposed to Full HD) LCD projector. This fact, together with the projector's sharpness, helps provide a little of the sense of depth lost by the black level shortcomings.