“Quacks like a 4K-en­hanced duck”

FOR Crisp de­tail; han­dles whites well; in­tu­itive con­trol AGAINST Blacks lack in­sight; brash colours

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - First Tests -

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.

Clear com­pro­mise

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.

Bear facts

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

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