A top-performing entry-level HD projector with great picture quality, ease of installation and facilities
With the current high definition specification of 1080 x 1920P becoming the de-facto industry standard (for now), manufacturers are embarking on a path of refinement and enhancement rather than total revamps of what are excellent products.
Take the new Epson EH-TW3500, for example. This reasonably priced projector has replaced the beaut TW3000 that brightened my HT room what seems like only months.
The new model promises increased performance overall, especially with a contrast ratio that’s double that of the earlier model.
The same elegant white case has returned for the TW3500, and facilities on-board are pretty good – 2 x HDMI inputs allow flexibility with other HD video equipment (games machines/laptops), while those who haven’t taken the HD plunge will find familiar sockets for composite (lousy), s-video (a bit better) and component (actually, pretty good). Those wishing to use a PC as a source can use the handy mini D-sub input, while an RS-232c is available for custom install automation. The TW3500 has Epson’s excellent 2 x manual zoom, while its lens shift means that off-centre positioning will not be an issue.
Contrast ratio is up to 36000:1, and the 1800 lumen output is possibly the best of the current 1080P crop. This will please those wishing to use the TW3500 in situations where there is ambient light.
The projector is attractively styled, and if ceiling mounted will not be too obtrusive due to the white casework – a good thing in my book.
Suffice to say the TW3500 acquitted itself very well in operation: I preferred the Theatre Black 1 mode out of all the picture settings available, and with a few tweaks to this (I turned off the auto iris and raised colour temperature) I was good to go.
Watching Blu-ray source material was a great experience with the TW3500. Dumb blockbusters such as Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen leapt from the screen with vivid detail and colours, the scene with Megan Fox sitting on the chopper early in the movie being particularly memorable. Certainly the denim cut-offs looked very realistic in terms of colour and texture. The crazy Autobot vs. Decepticon fight scenes were projected well with no motion blur or digital picture noise, and detail was excellent. The black levels were also very acceptable, although not quite up to the standard of the more expensive LCD or LCOS designs available. This was only apparent when viewing side by side, but in real terms the TW3500 acquitted itself very well indeed.
Another big budget flick on Blu-ray at the moment is Watchmen. This was again a treat on the big screen, with a proper storyline and an altogether darker premise than the previous Megan-fest. Colours on this movie are more subtly rendered, and the Epson came up trumps with a natural and very watchable (no pun intended) rendition of this cult graphic novel adaptation.
Epson has a worthy successor to the excellent EMP-TW3000: I think the 3500 is superior in most aspects. A killer proposition, the EH-TW3500 deserves strong recommendation due to its no fuss, fine picture quality. GARY PEARCE