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Wrapping up an HD video performance that honestly justifies the TW5500's price tag is some effortless sharpness. Fine details are abundant and clear, and the filmic grain retained in some Blu-ray transfers appears on screen with just the right level of emphasis. In other words, it's there as a natural result of the projector's inherent sharpness, rather than being 'forced' by any over-enthusiastic sharpness processing.
Not that the TW5500 is afraid of sharpness processing, mind you. For a new Super Resolution mode aimed at sharpening up standard def sources works quite aggressively on DVDs and Freeview broadcasts, to give them a much grittier look.
Personally I found that the processing caused a little edge ghosting, and sometimes made sharpness levels across the picture look a touch uneven. But doubtless some folk will really like the feature. And anyway, even if you leave it switched off, the TW5500 is a perfectly respectable standard def performer.
One final bit of good news about the TW5500 is how quietly it runs. Using the low-power Eco mode, in fact, the projector is practically inaudible, even during near-silent film scenes. Personally, though, I preferred the more vibrant, punchy image produced using the Normal Power Consumption mode, so it was a relief to find that this only introduced a little more noise - certainly nothing that's likely to distract you during a normal movie, even if the projector is positioned fairly close to your sitting position.
With so many projectors vying for your attention in the coming months, it's inevitable that there will be winners and losers along the way. But by pretty much rewriting the LCD projection rule book for the second time in three months, it's hard to imagine Epson ending up anywhere near the losers camp with the EH-TW5500. Especially since its arrival slightly ahead of its rivals has set the bar so dizzyingly high.
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