Review Price £2,899.99
Epson EH-TW9100W - Features and Performance
Among the more esoteric stuff, meanwhile, are an Epson Super White option; Off, Normal and Fast settings for the projector’s auto iris system; a Super Resolution processing system; Epson’s Frame Interpolation system for improving the smoothness and clarity of motion playback; Fine and Fast Image Processing modes; and a very peculiar Correct LCD Align option in the ‘Extended’ menu.
Features in depth
Going through these (briefly) in turn, Super White can help if your settings are leaving whites looking a bit ‘flared out’ and over-exposed. The auto iris settings let you adjust the contrast of images via an iris regulating the amount of light coming out of the projector.
Super resolution can boost the apparent detail level of the image (though more often than not it also makes pictures look more noisy, so is probably best avoided). The Frame Interpolation system adds extra, calculated image frames to try and reduce the judder you can get with projected images, especially 24p Blu-rays - but as we’ll see later, Frame Interpolation won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
The Fine and Fast processing option gives gamers a simple way of turning off the vast majority of the projector’s processing to reduce the potential for gameplay-damaging input lag (no actual gaming picture preset is provided).
Correct LCD Align
The Correct LCD Align option, finally, uses a scaling system to adjust the image going into the blue and red LCD panels to make sure there’s no red or blue ‘bleed’ around the edges of bright objects. This works pretty surprisingly well on one level, clearly making the edges of the white parts of white-on-black test signals - or even the TW9100W’s own menus - look markedly cleaner.
It also allows you to use a built-in crosshatch test pattern to fine tune the alignment yourself, which we’d recommend you do. Certainly on our test projector it helped us improve some red bleed in the picture’s bottom left quarter.
However, it seems a shame to have to be mucking about with scaling even just one colour element of the picture to deliver a state of alignment that would ideally have been delivered ‘naturally’ via the projector’s physical construction. Toggling the feature on and off also ironically highlights the colour misalignment you get in the projector’s native state.
The first thing that strikes us as we settle down to watch the TW9100W at last is how much better its pictures are than those of the TW9000W, especially when it comes to 3D.
There are two main reasons for this 3D advance. First, even though the TW9100W’s 2400 Lumens of claimed brightness isn’t any higher than the figure quoted for the TW9000W, 3D pictures look more punchy and dynamic. A result, we imagine, of the new model’s considerable contrast improvement.
This extra punch makes 3D images more engrossing and naturally coloured, and also makes watching them feel like less of a compromise versus watching in 2D.
The other clear improvement to the TW9100W’s 3D performance concerns crosstalk. We saw noticeably less of this double ghosting problem than we witnessed either on the TW9000W or, more tellingly, Panasonic’s recent AT6000E. This lets full HD 3D Blu-rays look sharper, more detailed, and more naturally full of depth.
Having made a comparison with the Panasonic AT6000E, we should also stress that the Epson’s 3D pictures look much brighter than those of the Panasonic.
The Panasonic’s 3D pictures have a bit more colour accuracy/finesse and arguably slightly more pleasing 3D motion reproduction. Plus Panasonic’s projector carries an AV enthusiast-friendly ‘lens memory’ for storing lens settings while the Epson does not. However, for us crosstalk and brightness are our two number one bugbears about the active 3D system. So the Epson handling both issues better is a big deal.
It’s worth adding here while we’re in comparison mode that the TW9100W also suffers much less with crosstalk than JVC’s otherwise terrific X30 model. We haven’t, though, yet tested the X30’s new replacement, the X35.
Turning to 2D, the TW9100W is again spectacular fun to watch - as long as you’re careful with its settings. The most important and surprising setting point is that you use the projector’s Natural picture preset as your calibration starting point rather than the Cinema one you might have expected to be using. For the Natural mode delivers a less ‘aggressive’ colour palette that seems much more natural and even than the colours you get with any of the other presets.
A little colour tweaking is still advised to reduce a slight blue tinge that’s otherwise present during dark 2D pictures, but really, as presets go, the TW9100W’s Natural mode is a doozy.
As well as its strikingly natural colour palette, the TW9100W’s 2D pictures are distinguished by the strength of their contrast. Dark scenes reveal a black level response that’s way ahead of the already good effort of the TW9000W, with only the slightest hint of residual grey clouding.
This is especially true if you use one of the TW9100W’s dynamic iris modes - something you can do with reasonable impunity, as it happens, as neither setting tends to cause much in the way of brightness instability. Also impressive about the dynamic iris modes is how clever they are when it comes to judging the best light balance to deliver enhanced black colours without crushing out too much shadow detail.