Epson is distributing the TW3800 predominantly through custom installation channels, so I guess to some extent features like the ones we’ve just described are necessary to keep the installers ‘onside’. But at the same time it’s fair to say that some of them go way beyond the call of duty for a projector costing less than two grand.
And we’re not done with the noteworthy tweaks yet, either. Other useful stuff includes the facility to shift the colour temperature in Kelvins, tweak the projector’s skin tones, adjust the lamp level output (stick to Low if you’re doing the sensible thing and using the projector in a dark room), turn on/off noise reduction circuitry, and adjust the speed at which the auto iris works. Or you can turn the auto iris off completely if you find its continual brightness adjustments distracting.
At this point it occurs to me that I’ve got so wrapped up in the TW3800’s subtle tweaks that I’ve completely missed out a couple of more prosaic but no less helpful setup aids. Namely a 2.1x level of optical zoom available from the Fujinon lens, and the provision to optically shift the image vertically or horizontally. This latter feature means you shouldn’t have to fanny about with keystone correction and suffer the image distortion it invariably introduces.
Right. Enough preamble. It’s high time I set about explaining just why the TW3800 had me waxing lyrical about Epson at this review’s start.
Probably the single most striking thing about its generally excellent pictures is their colour rendition. For after a little fine-tuning based around the already excellent Silver Screen preset, the projector presented me – even in low lamp mode – with some superbly vibrant, dynamic tones. Even better, this vibrancy doesn’t prevent colour tones from looking superbly authentic for a projector costing less than £2,000. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that the TW3800’s colours slightly outgun those of the mighty – and slightly more expensive – Panasonic PT-AE3000.
I’ve repeatedly moaned about inadequate black level response on previous Epson LCD projectors I’ve tested. But the TW3800 finally puts this recurring issue to bed. For while it doesn’t deliver the blackest blacks around, it certainly gets deep enough to allow images to look genuinely cinematic. Especially since it manages to hold on to its believably dark blacks while retaining impressive levels of shadow detail without having to reduce its overall brightness. This shadow detailing ensures that you seldom feel like dark parts of the picture are hollow or one-dimensional.
If Epson’s upcoming TW5800 flagship home cinema projector can, as Epson claims, deliver black levels significantly superior to those of the TW3800, then it really could be a remarkable machine. Look out for a review soon!
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