So can all the improvements Epson has brought to the TW5500 really be seen onscreen? Indeed they can.
Since it was such a divisive element of the TW5800, I think a good place to start would be by covering the massive improvement Epson has delivered to its frame interpolation processing.
The trick with the new system is, effectively, that it’s become cleverer at recognising its own limitations. And so whereas the earlier frame interpolation engine tended to break down into obvious glitching and flickering when the amount of motion it was required to deal with became too great for it to handle, the latest system deactivates the frame interpolation processing automatically at times of extreme duress, reverting to a less processing-heavy, artefact-free pull-down arrangement.
With the TW5800, I personally found the Frame Interpolation system borderline unusable on anything other than its Low setting – a setting which wasn’t really powerful enough to reduce judder all that much. With the TW5800, though, the more powerful Normal frame interpolation mode massively reduces judder in the image while, crucially, generating hardly any distracting processing side effects.
The scene where Bond arrives in the Bahamas in ”Casino Royale” is a severe test of any motion compensation system, with its rapid tracking shots of cars and boats, and objects within the frame moving at a different rate to the camera pan. Yet where the TW5800 showed clear signs of glitching and shimmering haloes around moving objects with these shots using its normal or high frame interpolation settings, the TW5500 is pretty much rock solid.
The TW5500’s more adaptive approach means there’s perhaps a touch more judder in, say, the portrayal of the beach huts behind Bond’s Ford Focus as it flies towards his swanky hotel. But personally I’d trade a fraction more judder during really fast camera pans over aggressive processing artefacts any day.
When all’s said and done, the TW5500’s frame interpolation system is arguably the first such technology I’ve seen on a projector that significantly improves the clarity and fluidity of the picture without causing artefacts more distracting than the judder it’s designed to remove.
In fact, I’m confident that even some of those die-hard purists who argue that judder is part of the cinematic experience and should be left alone might find themselves ‘turned’ by the TW5500’s frame interpolation efforts. Which is about as high a recommendation I can give, considering what an inherently stubborn bunch such dyed-in-the-wool purists invariably are!
If you’re STILL not convinced that Frame Interpolation has any place in your movie-loving world, though, please note that the TW5500 allows you to deactivate all of its Frame Interpolation processing completely if you so desire.
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.