This Full HD, 3-chip, LCD projector delivers big-screen fun on a budget. The blacks could be better, but this 1080p beauty produces detailed, bright and colourful images to suit all types of content
- Bright and punchy picture
- Excellent colour reproduction
- Detailed and clear images
- Great price
- Poor black levels and shadow detail
- Review Price: £499
- 3-chip LCD Projector
- 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 3100 lumens
- Dimensions: 30.2cm x 25.2cm x 9.2cm
- Weight: 2.7kg
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- 2 x HDMI, 1 x VGA, 2 x USB, 1 x composite video, 1 x analogue audio
What is the Epson EH-TW650?
The Epson EH-TW650 is an entry-level, 3-chip, Full HD projector designed to deliver big-screen entertainment for those on a budget.
At current prices this well-made and feature-packed little beamer is one of the cheapest ways of enjoying TV, sport, gaming and movies with the biggest images possible. Just pull it out, plug it in, and you’re good to go.
Epson EH-TW650 design, control and connectivity – A fairly standard-looking Epson projector
The Epson EH-TW650 uses a fairly standard white plastic chassis that’s relatively compact, making it ideal for impromptu big-screen fun. This projector looks like any number of other Epson models, although employing these economies of scale is how the company is able to offer such excellent value for money.
The lens is located to the right-hand-side as you face the projector, behind a cover that slides into place using a control at the top. This is where you’ll also find dials for zooming and focusing the image, as well as making any keystone adjustments. At the top-rear of the chassis are a number of controls, just in case you lose the provided remote.
This is certainly a possibility: the included remote is on the small side and doesn’t have any backlighting. This makes it fiddly to use, especially in the dark. However, it fits comfortably in your palm and can be operated one-handed. The buttons are laid out in an intuitive fashion, with everything you need to set up and operate the EH-TW650.
All the connections are housed in a recess at the rear of the device. Here you’ll find two HDMI 1.4 inputs, one of which supports MHL (Mobile High-definition Link). There’s also a VGA connector, along with two USB 2.0 ports (Type A and B), a composite video input and stereo analogue inputs. The EH-TW650 even has wireless capabilities thanks to built-in Wi-Fi (802.11bgn).
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Epson EH-TW650 features – A decent array of features considering its budget price
The Epson EH-TW650 is surprisingly well specified considering its budget status. For a start, it’s built around three 16:9 1080p LCD chips combined with a lamp that has a claimed brightness of 3100 lumens. That’s seriously bright, making this projector ideal for rooms with white walls or plenty of ambient light – and it means this beamer can deliver images up to a whopping 300in.
A bulb this bright means that black levels will inevitably suffer, but Epson still claims a contrast ratio of 15,000:1. The use of three LCD panels means you don’t have to worry about rainbow artefacts, and the EH-TW650 is also capable of producing incredibly high white and colour light output.
Epson even claims the projector’s long-lasting lamp will allow you to watch a movie a day for 11 years. Although once you’ve caught the big-screen bug, you’ll be upgrading long before then.
This Full HD projector supports 10-bit colour processing and includes Dynamic, Game, Cinema and Bright Cinema colour modes. Other features include a built-in 2W speaker, an AV mute slide, automatic, horizontal and vertical keystone correction, and a split-screen function. There’s also the iProjection app that allows you to easily project directly from a smart device.
Epson EH-TW650 setup – It couldn’t be simpler
The Epson EH-TW650 is incredibly easy to set up, and even offers the option of ceiling mounting. However, given the budget nature of this projector, you’re more likely to put it on a table.
There’s an extendable foot at the front, allowing you to angle the lens upwards. If the image is distorted due to the angle of projection, you can use the keystone controls to make adjustments.
For the best results you should use a projection screen, but for ad hoc screenings you can also use a white wall. Then all you need to do is adjust the size and focus of the image. There are no lens-shift controls, so you’ll need to install the projector higher up or at an angle if it’s too low. Ideally, you want the lens pointing directly at the centre of the screen or wall.
The menu system is straightforward, and for the most accurate images choose the Cinema Colour mode. The EH-TW650 is super-bright, so light-coloured walls or ceilings shouldn’t be a problem.
However, if there’s a lot of ambient light in the room then you might find the Bright Cinema mode useful. If you’re planning a big-screen gaming session, use the Game mode to reduce the input lag to 25ms.
Epson claims you can watch a film a day for 11 years, based on the film having an average running time of 1hr 45mins, and using the lamp in the Eco mode. Those numbers equate to a 7500 hours in Eco mode and 4500 hours in normal mode – but that’s more than long enough for watching plenty of sport, TV and movies, as well as a few marathon gaming sessions.
Epson EH-TW650 performance – Black levels are a weakness; otherwise, the Epson delivers a terrific image out of the box
The Epson EH-TW650 delivers a cracking picture right-out-of-the-box, with bright and punchy big-screen images that benefit from richly saturated colours. The Full HD images are clear and detailed, with a pleasing level of accuracy. Overall colour definition is excellent, with natural skin tones, grass and skies.
The LCD panel alignment looks good, with no obvious aberrations. This results in a crisp and clean picture that has a nicely uniform image with no apparent geometry issues. The motion handling is exactly as you’d expect from a projector that uses LCD panels, with some blurring but no obvious judder.
The projector’s only major weakness is its inability to deliver deep blacks, instead appearing as dark grey, and there’s also limited shadow detail. This isn’t surprising given the price, but these weak blacks do mean the Epson is better suited to rooms with light-coloured walls, where the poor contrast will be masked by the reflected light.
In these days of 4K and HDR, it’s easy to forget how good a well-projected 1080p image can actually look. If Ultra HD isn’t for you, or is outside your current budget, then the EH-TW650 is sure to please. Pop on a high-quality Blu-ray such as Planet Earth II and you’ll be blown away by the level of fine detail on display. You’ll also revel in the rich colours and epic landscapes.
The same is true of a decent Full HD TV broadcast, and if there’s one area where a projector adds real value it’s with sports. Watching the Rugby World Cup on the Epson resulted in a breathtaking big-screen experience that gave the stadiums a real sense of scale, thrusting you right into the hard-hitting action. Once you’ve experience a match that fills the entire wall, there’s no going back.
That sense of immersion also applies to gaming. Here, the EH-TW650 offers a thrillingly responsive experience that will put you into the world of the game. If you have a big collection of DVDs, or watch a lot of standard definition broadcasts, you’ll be glad to know the Epson also offers decent upscaling that will squeeze every last pixel out of any lower-resolution content.
While there is a built-in speaker, it’s very small and tinny. So, to fully appreciate the cinemascope thrills of the EH-TW650 you should definitely invest in an equally big sound system, or at least a soundbar. Ultimately, the EH-TW650 delivers some serious big-screen bang for your buck, and if you’re on a budget then this little beamer is a no-brainer.
Should I buy the Epson EH-TW650?
The Epson EH-TW650 is fantastic entry-level projector that delivers big-screen images with plenty of punch and vitality. This projector is extremely bright, making it ideal for rooms with white walls or a lot of ambient light. It’s easy to set up, has some useful features that include built-in Wi-Fi, and it’s a cracking all-rounder for sports and movies, or an immersive gaming session.
The picture is clear and detailed, allowing the EH-TW650 to make the most of any Full HD source. It’s also capable of richly saturated but accurate colours that are sure to please.
Black levels and contrast ratios aren’t great, but given the kind of rooms the Epson will be used in this is hardly a deal-breaker. In fact, it’s hard to fault the EH-TW650, and at current prices it’s an absolute bargain.