If you’re paying attention, you’ll have noticed that I said frame interpolation back there. For despite causing a few concerns over processing-related side effects on the TW5800, and generally being rather unloved on principle by some movie enthusiasts, frame interpolation is back on the TW5500. Before anyone gets all huffy about it, though, I strongly suggest that you reserve judgement until you’ve read the performance section of this review, since the TW5500’s frame interpolation is certainly not a mere re-run of the system found on the TW5800.
Other quoted specifications of the TW5500 include some seriously eye-catching stuff. The projector enjoys a Full HD resolution, for instance, and a promisingly high colour light output of 1,600 Lumens.
If you’re wondering why we said ‘colour light output’ (CLO) rather than simply ‘light output’ or brightness, it’s a distinction Epson – and Sony, actually – is keen to make with their new projector ranges. The point being that rather than the usual luminance figure, which is based on the reproduction of white, CLO is a metric measure of a video projector’s ability to deliver colours. And it just so happens that LCD technology tends to deliver rather brighter colours than arch-rival technology, DLP.
Arguably the single most exciting specification of the TW5500, though, is its claimed contrast ratio of 200,000:1. Even taking into account the usual tendency for manufacturers to be ‘optimistic’ with contrast ratio figures, 200,000:1 reads simply miles ahead of anything I’ve seen quoted on an LCD projector before. Even the impressive black levels of the TW5800 were only accompanied by a 75,000:1 claimed contrast ratio.
Although the TW5500’s claimed contrast boost comes in part from improvements to the efficiency of the projector’s light path (via Epson’s latest DeepBlack technology), it also owes much to Epson’s development of a new dual-layer, notched iris.
To explain this as simply as possible, having an iris comprising two distinct layers reduces the light output from the projector progressively, in two quickly consecutive stages, rather than just one, which allows the TW5500’s dynamic iris system to deliver pronounced shifts in image brightness – and thus a greater contrast range – without causing the brightness ‘jumps’ that usually occur when a projector tries to deliver quick and dramatic brightness shifts.
Other bits and bobs of note include HQV video processing to boost image clarity and motion sharpness, 12-bit video processing, an anamorphic wide mode (for use with third-party anamorphic lenses), ISF calibration menus, and a cable cover to keep things looking tidy even if you’ve got the projector mounted on the ceiling.
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