Epson EH-TW5200: Picture Quality
Let’s get the bad news about the TW5200 out of the way first – not least because the projector’s problems are so predictable!
The thing is, the obvious focus on brightness means that it struggles to deliver a decent contrast performance. There’s significant grey mist hanging over any part of the picture that should look black, and this low-contrast mist is potent enough to also have a negative impact on colour tones during dark scenes.
Using the dynamic iris improves the sense of punch in the image to some extent, but it doesn’t really make much difference to the distinctly grey blacks.
This problem is particularly noticeable when watching films, which routinely employ much more diverse and expansive contrast ranges than games and TV footage. But that’s not to say it’s not also a problem for gaming. Certainly many of our favourite games – Dead Space, The Last of Us, Gears of War, Skyrim – contain lots of dark areas and/or night time exploration, and all of these are impacted at least a little by the lack of contrast.
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We also noticed during dark scenes that the right and especially left edges of the image appear slightly darker than the rest. Thankfully you only very seldom notice this under normal viewing conditions.
Two bits of good news where the TW5200’s handling of dark content is concerned are that the dynamic iris system works without causing the sort of over-aggressive brightness ‘jumps’ you get with some rival systems, and that you can see good levels of shadow detail in dark scenes despite the grey wash over everything.
Moving on to the TW5200’s strengths, its pictures are really bright and intense, exploding off the screen – or even, potentially, your light-coloured living room wall – with real dynamism and pop. Colours in particular look extremely intense for the TW5200’s money, doing their best to counter the problems caused by the lack of black depth. As noted before, colours during dark scenes can still look a little off key, but without Epson’s impressive colour handling the situation would have been a whole lot worse.
HD sources look engagingly sharp and detailed too, and although there’s a little motion blur and judder it’s pretty minor by the standards of budget projectors, and certainly beats the sort of fizzing problems commonly witnessed with rival DLP technology. This combination of sharpness and decent motion handling is, of course, perfect for gaming.
The use of LCD rather than DLP technology also means you don’t have to worry about the latter technology’s rainbow effect problem. In fact, despite the low contrast mist, the general freedom from noise of all sorts in the Epson TW5200’s picture means you can forge a reasonably direct connection with the pictures you’re watching.
We should concentrate for a moment on the TW5200’s performance specifically with games consoles given that this is what Epson has predominantly designed it for. It is definitely at its most effective with this sort of content, as its ultra bright, richly coloured, clean and fast-responding pictures eat stuff like Skyrim and GTA 5’s daytime landscapes for breakfast, making them wonderfully enjoyable to explore even if you’ve got ambient light in your room.
As noted before, the projector’s contrast issues make the Epson TW5200 less satisfying when your gaming takes you to dark interiors or night time scenes, but at least the projector’s retention of decent amounts of shadow detail means the lack of contrast doesn’t really affect your performance.
Another smaller issue is that the projector can make areas of fine detail, like GTA 5’s trees, look a little fizzy and noisy. But this only marginally diminishes what’s ultimate a pretty grand gaming spectacle.