When you’re getting an 80in screen, an HD Ready projector and a DVD player for this kind of money, I hadn’t expected a great deal from the TWD10’s performance. And it pretty much lives down to my expectations.
Focussing first on the projection section, the problems start with black levels, which are the worst I’ve seen for a long time, truth be told. The amount of tell-tale grey clouding is really quite prodigious during dark scenes in the Sky HD showing of ”Blood Diamond”, such as the one where Archer spies on a rebel camp at night.
As well as forcing you to strain your eyes through this ‘mist’ to make out what’s going on, the greyness makes dark scenes feel flat and tonally different to the film’s bright scenes.
Also below par by today’s increasingly exacting standards – even at the budget end of the market – are the TWD10’s colours. Skin tones tend to look orangey even using the Theater Black preset; blacks look crushed; and brighter, more richly saturated fare such as daylight jungle shots or the scene of the rebel assault on Freetown look washed out and sickly.
The picture also looks rather soft and lacks detail for an HD Ready projector, suggesting that neither the TWD10’s optics nor its scaling processing are up to much. It doesn’t help in this regard that motion in the picture can look rather blurred too, especially when watching standard definition from that built-in DVD player.
One final moan would be that every now and then – usually over ”Blood Diamond’s” shots of bright African skies – I became vaguely aware of a cross-hatch pattern in the picture caused by the structure of the LCD panels at the TWD10’s heart.
With the TWD10 also running extremely loudly with the lamp set to full (and still sounding a bit distracting with its lamp set to Eco), it’s actually quite hard to find any thing really positive to say about its projection performance. I guess it doesn’t suffer with the rainbow effect that plagues projectors using rival DLP technology, and it can look quite decent with fairly pallid sources, such as Tim Burton’s deliberately washed out style for ”Sweeney Todd”. But that’s about it.
Maybe the DVD player can offer a little solace? Well, I suppose it doesn’t do anything really wrong. There are no majorly overt MPEG decoding artefacts to contend with, for instance, and detail levels are respectable. It also seems that the TWD10’s image processing is rather more adept at upscaling standard definition to its HD Ready resolution than it is at downscaling Full HD sources.
But contoured edges look a bit stressy and noisy, and at no point does anything the DVD deck do manage to miraculously put right the various flaws in the projector’s picture performance.
Although the EMP-TWD10 sounds like an intriguing proposition on paper, in reality it’s hard to imagine it offering much practical value to many people at all. And without practical value there’s nothing to make us more tolerant of its antiquated performance level. Which makes it feel like rather a waste of time, all things considered.