A few weeks ago I found myself surprisingly impressed by Epson's EH-TW3800 projector - a mid-range model that finally proved to me that Epson could cater for a dedicated home cinema room as well as the casual user's living room.
So it's with some expectation that I find myself setting up Epson's current flagship home cinema LCD projector, the EH-TW5800.
It seems to me that a productive way to start is to check out how it differs, if at all, from its cheaper TW3800 sibling.
Aesthetically, the main difference is that the TW5800 is black while the TW3800 was white. Otherwise, they both sport the same rather serious looking, angular, almost industrial design. If I had to pick between the two models on looks, I'd probably go for the TW5800 on the grounds that its black contrasts more strikingly with the silver of the lens barrel and various bits of trim.
The TW5800 also shares the same substantial footprint as the TW3800, and appears to have used the bulk to similarly good effect in suppressing operating noise, which is quoted at the same low level of 22dB (using the most energy-efficient settings).
The TW5800's connections are the same as those of the TW3800 as well; no bad thing, since this means you get highlights of two HDMIs, a D-Sub PC port, a 12V trigger output, and even the means to wire the projector to an external power switch.
The TW5800 also has the same Full HD resolution as the TW3800 - and so by now I'm guessing that you're wondering exactly where the differences are going to come from that justify the TW5800 selling for a cool £1,400 more than its mid-range brother. But fear not - as well as carrying a superb five-year lamp and projector warranty versus the TW3800's three-year offering, the TW5800 really does have an important set of differences tucked away on its spec sheet.
Probably the most instantly striking of these is the huge 'leg up' it's got in the contrast department. For while the TW3800 claimed a dynamic contrast ratio of 18,000:1, the TW5800 ups this - with the help of DeepBlack processing, new 12-bit D7 C2Fine LCD panels and an improved E-TORL lamp to minimise light leakage - to a mammoth 75,000:1. Clearly this raises hopes of a truly substantial improvement in the key black level department.
Also potentially crucial in boosting the TW5800's picture quality is its promising claimed max brightness output of 1,600 Lumens. Couple this brightness with the contrast claims, and we could be looking at one of the most dynamic pictures we've seen at the £3k or so level of the market. Provided the figures are remotely 'real world', that is…