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If you're one of the growing number of people no longer finding their home cinema/gaming obsessions satisfied by a TV, you've got a rather exciting three months ahead. For the run up to Christmas is set to herald the release of an unprecedented rush of projectors, with just about every projector brand of note - Sony, JVC, BenQ, Optoma, Panasonic, InFocus and Epson - unleashing key new home cinema machines.
First out of the traps, though, is Epson. And following the resounding success of its flagship TW5800 model, reviewed back in June, it's getting its big guns out right away, in the shape of new flagship model, the £3,899 EH-TW5500.
The first thing that has to be said about the TW5500, inevitably, is that its £3,899 price tag is pretty formidable. But as we're about to discover, as well as shipping with a five-year projector and lamp warranty (including Saturday service), the TW5500 has more than enough going on under its bonnet to make such a price seem fair.
Regular readers might be a bit surprised about this, given that the 'TW5500' model number reads lower than the TW5800 figure used on Epson's previous flagship model. After all, lower model numbers usually imply some kind of inferiority versus higher-numbered models. But trust us: the TW5500 really is a major leap forward over the already seriously impressive TW5800.
The improvements start right away with the TW5500 eschewing the high gloss finish of the TW5800 in favour of a new matt black body that doesn't reflect light and so is much less likely to distract in a darkened room - especially if the projector is sited in front of your viewing position.
The TW5500's connections are in line with what we'd expect of a premium projector these days. Which is to say you get highlights of two x.v.Colour-compatible HDMIs, a component video input, and an RGB PC input.
Considering how sophisticated the TW5500 will turn out to be, it's remarkably easy to set up. An excellent 2.1 optical zoom joins forces with extensive vertical and horizontal image shifting to make getting an image perfectly positioned on your screen a mere minute's work. There are two wind down legs under the projector's front edge, too, though with so much optical image shifting available, it's hard to imagine that you'll need to use them.
The TW5500's onscreen menus continue the friendly feeling, with clear presentation and a generally logical layout. The only thing that might possibly cause a little confusion is the decision to separate out Picture and Signal settings, with the signal mode including such options as 4:4 pulldown, overscan on/off and various levels of frame interpolation. Once you've got your head round Epson's thinking, though, it all kind of makes sense, and doesn't hold you up too much.
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