With the monster IFA technology show in Berlin soon to get underway, Epson invited us out a day early to show us its latest LCD projector technology. Considering the company already enjoys a ridiculously high 29%, number one, slice of the world home cinema projector pie, we were convinced it must have something special to show us to go such lengths.
And so it proved. While we’ve long admired at least the upper reaches of Epson’s home cinema projector ranges, nothing quite prepared us for the quality we witnessed when we got hands-on with a projector featuring the brand’s new Reflective LCD technology.
Receiving its global debut at our preview, the key point about the Reflective LCD system is that for the first time it turns LCD projection from being transmissive – where light just passes through the LCD mechanism en route to the projector’s aperture/lens – into a reflective system, similar to that used by DLP, and JVC’s D-ILA approach.
Why does this matter? Because Epson found that it’s much easier to suppress the light leakage issues that so negatively affect contrast with normal transmissive LCD projectors by introducing a reflective plate at the point where the light emerges from the LCD array. See the slides taken from Epson’s presentation for a helpful visual interpretation of what we’re trying to describe here.
Couple this improved light efficiency with reduced inter-pixel spacing, and you end up with a vast dynamic contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 in the case of the new EH-R4000 flagship model, or a still massive 500,000:1 in the case of the new step-down EH-R2000.
Sticking with native contrast ratios, you’ve got 40,000:1 from the R4000 and 25,000:1 from the R2000. To put these numbers in perspective, JVC’s hugely acclaimed HD550 and HD950 D-ILA projectors claim native contrast ratios of 30,000:1 and 50,000:1. This potentially puts Epson’s R4000 (£5,000) and R2000 (£3,000) models in JVC’s league when they launch around November.
As if all this wasn’t already intriguing enough, Epson also claims that its new reflective LCD tech produces a wider colour gamut than the traditional transmissive approach, as well as almost doubling response time to improve motion clarity and smoothness.
The R4000 and 2000 models don’t just rely on the new Reflective LCD tech for their home cinema appeal, though. They also feature a 2.40:1 settings ‘memory’ for use with third-party 21:9 lenses, a huge 2.1x zoom, extremely flexible optical image shifting, frame interpolation processing, and enough calibration subtleties to earn endorsement from the Imaging Science Foundation.