Epson’s first forays into the 3D projection market have generally impressed us. The flagship TW9000 proved particularly excellent with its combination of rich contrast and punchy, clean 3D imaging, while the significantly cheaper mid-range TW6000 offered good bang for your buck - even though it was a fairly substantial step-down in performance terms from the TW9000.
So it is that we have reasonably high hopes for Epson’s entry-level 3D projector, the EH-TW5900. Especially as it shares quite a few of is specifications with the step-up TW6000.
It’s an attractive projector, for starters, thanks to its glossy white finish (designed to suit relatively casual living room environments rather than blacked-out cinema rooms) and pleasantly rounded bodywork.
Its fairly large footprint for a budget projector raises hopes of better innards than you might usually expect with a £900 projector - especially a 3D-capable one. The large venting that appears to either side of the centrally-mounted lens also makes us wonder if the Epson EH-TW5900 might run more quietly than the majority of cheap and cheerful projectors, despite its cooling fans doubtless having to work pretty hard when the projector is delivering the sort of brightness levels required for good 3D.
On the subject of 3D, it’s a pity we have to say that Epson doesn’t include any glasses for free with the projector, meaning you’ll have to cough up £70 or so for each pair you need. But then we guess that with the TW5900 you are, after all, getting a nicely specified, dedicated home cinema projector for a fair chunk under a grand. So maybe it is a bit unreasonable to expect glasses to be thrown in for free.
The Epson EH-TW5900‘s key specifications include, on the connections side, a respectable two v1.4 HDMI ports, a component video port, a D-Sub PC port, an RS-232C control port and, surprisingly, LAN and USB inputs. The LAN is there for adding an optional external 3D emitter should you feel your room set up would benefit from one, while the USB port rather excellently can be used for playing back photo files from USB sticks or connected digital cameras.
The optics at the TW5900’s heart promisingly copy those of the TW6000, comprising three 0.61in C2Fine 12-Bit panels driven at the 3D-friendly 480Hz refresh rate. This is pretty impressive stuff for the TW5900’s money, as is the fact that the TW5900 retains a dynamic iris like its costlier sibling.
In fact, there seem to be only two key areas where the TW5900’s cheapness versus the TW6000 becomes apparent on its spec sheet: its claimed brightness and contrast figures. For while the TW6000 claims 2200 Lumens and 40,000:1 respectively, the TW5900 boasts a more modest 2000 Lumens and 20,000:1.
You can never depend on such manufacturer-quoted figures for accuracy, but the differences between the TW5900 and TW6000’s specs in these two areas - especially contrast - are sufficiently high to raise a least a little concern over the Epson EH-TW5900’s performance potential.