It was a surprise to learn the price of Epson’s latest 1080p home cinema projector — at $1149 our bargain sirens were sounding at top volume. It’s a compact unit, for sure, but it nevertheless serves up 2200 lumens of brightness (Epson noting that its three LCD chips combine to deliver the full colour range at up to 2200 lumens as well, whereas some competing technologies can only achieve their stated brightness with full white), while the dynamic iris (which opens and closes rapidly to adjust the overall light levels to improve the effective black levels during dark scenes) boosts the contrast ratio to an impressive 35,000:1.
The 200W lamp is rated with a generous lamp life of 4000 hours of operation in normal mode and 7500 hours in eco mode (that’s a movie a night for 10 years), and replacements are equally well-priced at $99. And being compact, this is a projector you could bring out for movie nights without a permanent installation — we like that it’s still curvy enough that it doesn’t look like a business projector.
There are two HDMI inputs, plus D-SUB15 and composite video — oh, and stereo audio inputs, which are down-mixed to mono and fed to a small speaker built into the back panel, though we’d hope you’d plug your source audio into a rather better sound system given the quality of bigscreen entertainment on offer here. The TW5300 was wonderfully bright in ‘Normal’ mode, with a decent picture even in a well-lit room, while in our preferred darkened room, ‘Eco’ mode delivered a picture that was absolutely fine for brightness, with the fan running at no more than a whisper, though the dynamic iris could audibly ‘chuff’ a bit in operation. Colours were nicely rich and accurate with good black levels, and it does 3D, though no eyewear is supplied — available at $99 per pair.
With the Epson name and this performance at this price, the EH-TW5300 was an easy pick for our entry-level projector award. More info: www.epson.com.au