“Quacks like a 4K-enhanced duck”
FOR Crisp detail; handles whites well; intuitive control AGAINST Blacks lack insight; brash colours
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. However, if it’s called “4K-enhanced”, as Epson’s EH TW9300W projector is, that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily getting a native 4K image. The EH TW9300W uses some complex processing to upscale Full HD video into 4K. It isn’t the first of Epson’s projectors to feature ‘4K-enhanced’ technology – the EH LS10000, which was out in 2015, also had it – but for those hoping to get a true 4K-quality image at a lower cost, this isn’t it.
The TW9300W will accept native 4K content but without a native 4K chip, it takes the incoming Ultra HD signal and downscales it to Full HD. It doesn’t give you as sophisticated or insightful an image as a true 4K projector, but with those starting at around £6000 there’s a clear compromise between cost and performance – and the TW9300W’S upscaling does look good, combined as it is with a HDR colour range.
Digging into the specs, the TW9300W can shine 2500 lumens onto your screen, with a claimed 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. That’s considerably more than the 1800 lumens and 120,000:1 ratio of the Full HD Sony VPL HW65ES, our current favourite at this price point.
Setting the TW9300W up is quick and simple, and its motorised lens adjustment is responsive. You can use one of the ‘colour mode’ presets such as 'Dynamic" (which Epson recommends for prioritising brightness) or 'Digital Cinema' (for vivid colours), but we opt for ‘Natural’ and fine-tune it using a THX Optimizer disc.
The remote control is laid out logically and feels good to use; the only thing on our wishlist is that we’d like it to light up automatically when used, rather than at a push of the backlight button.
At around 50cm wide, and of a similar depth, the TW9300W is pretty hefty, so you’ll need a suitably sized stand or sturdy ceiling bracket. However, if that means placing it away from your Blu-ray player, the Wirelesshd Transmitter that comes with the projector can beam content across the room (Epson recommends a 10m max range). You can connect up to four inputs – enough to cover your player, games console and any other 4K HDR sources – and there’s also an optical output for your sound.
While the Wirelesshd Transmitter provides a stable link – we experience no drop-outs while using it – there is a noticeable drop in detail and texture compared to a wired connection. There are two HDMIS on the projector, but only one with the HDCP 2.2 protocol to carry HDR. You also get USB, a connection for your PC and an ethernet port. It supports 3D too, but doesn’t come with glasses (the ones from Epson’s website come in at £65 a pair).
The number of native 4K projectors is still relatively small, and they cost significantly more than the EH TW9300W. As such, it’s quite satisfying that the picture from this projector ticks most of our boxes.
For a start, the TW9300W has a good handling of detail during bright scenes. Watching a 4K HDR copy of The Revenant, Andrew Henry’s scraggy clothing and facial hair is pleasingly sharp. After the bear attack that savages Hugh Glass, the combination of blood, dirt and drool covering his face is pretty clear.
Alright on the night
When it comes to colours, the TW9300W has no trouble. Playing Planet Earth II, the brilliant turquoises and jades of the Panama islands really pop (a little too much for our tastes, perhaps), but the way it deals with white detail is impressive. Wispy clouds are distinct from dense, stormy ones and there is a good variation between powdered akes and the harsher ice of the Himalayan snow.
When it comes to darker scenes, such as the interior of 221B Baker Street in a Blu-ray of Sherlock’s The Abominable Bride, the TW9300W goes commendably black, but fails to provide the same insight. Making out the decoration of doorways or the detail in the 19th century garb is a challenge. Playing an Ultra HD Blu-ray of X Men:
Days of Future Past, the TW9300W has a decent sense of motion, although we turn the Frame Interpolation (motion processing mode) to ‘Low’. While most projectors have a small element of judder, this adjustment makes image stability acceptable – and lets the Epson keep up with the fight scene between Wolverine and the young Beast.
If you can look past the 4K-enhanced claims, and see the TW9300W for the impressive Full HD projector it is, you won’t be disappointed. The picture is crisp, the colours bold and it can connect to a multitude of 4K HDR sources. We’d like a little more subtlety in its performance, but this won’t let you down on movie night.
It's a he y box, but a wireless transmitter makes positioning the TW9300W easy
An automatic backlight would come in handy on the remote control