Epson has three projectors this year in its line-up supporting Ultra HD and HDR. We look at the Epson EH-TW9300 Projector, a top model with a whole list of impressive features. Can Epson use its expertise over the past years to bring HDR to projectors?
Epson EH-TW9300 – specifications
- What: Full HD LCD projector with 4K image enhancement
- Arrangement: 1,920 x 1,080, light output 2,500 ANSI lumens, dynamic contrast 1,000,000: 1, projection ratio 1.35 – 2.84 (100 inch diagonal between 3.0 and 6.3 m), noise level 24/20 dB (standard, ecomode)
- Connections: 2x HDMI (2x v2.0a, 1x HDCP2.2), 1x VGA, 1x micro-USB, 1x USB (power) 1x 12V trigger, 1x network, 1x rs-232c
- Lamp life: 3,500 / 5,000 hours
- Extras: HDR10
- Dimensions: 520 x 193 x 450 mm
- Weight: 11.2 kg
- Consumption: 355/271 / 0.4 watt
- Recommended retail price: 3,299 euros (3,729 euros for the EH-TW9300W)
Epson EH-TW9300 – design
This Epson is also quite a big guy. It is a bit smaller than the enormous Acer V9800, but it is still a projector that you can not just put on the coffee table (or you can), or take it to the friends (that really does not work). This is a home theater projector that requires a fixed setup. The EH-TW9300 is executed in black. Our test model was an EH-TW9300W and it is completely white. The W is not for white, but for its Wireless Full HD connection. Since the transmitter was not with the projector, we review it here as the EH-TW9300. Both devices are otherwise completely identical.
The design has a strong appearance, as long as you look at the front. The cooling grilles and the huge lens give it an impressive appearance. The rest of the device is good, but it is quite boring. On the right front side the controls are hidden behind a small shutter.
All connections are at the back and are slightly recessed in the projector. This position is our preference because connections on the side make it more difficult to keep cables neatly out of sight. The disadvantage is that you can not place the projector with the back against the wall.
The projector has two HDMI connections, both of which are v2.0, and therefore accept Ultra HD content. Please note, only HDMI1 is equipped with HDCP2.2 so it is best to connect external Ultra HD sources. During our tests we notice that the HDMI connection probably does not support the full HDMI bandwidth. More about that in the HDR image quality section. As the only other picture input there is an analogue PC connection.
All remaining connections are for control: a network port, RS-232c and a 12V trigger. The two USB ports are not media readers. One serves for an optional wireless LAN module and the other serves as a power supply for example for a possible optical HDMI cable extension.
Epson EH-TW9300 – Location and ease of use
Finding a place for this projector will not be difficult, it is very flexible. The only thing you have to take into account is its fairly large projection ratio. If you want a 100 inch image, you must provide a distance of at least three meters between the lens and the wall. But apart from that you have a lot of freedom. The zoom factor of 2.1x enables you to project a 100-inch image even from six meters. And you do not need to put it in the center of the screen perfectly. Epson provides a generous amount of lens shift, both vertically and horizontally. Vertically you can even make the image reach half a screen height above or below the height of the lens: on a ceiling or on a low table, so it’s all possible.
Both the focus, zoom and lens shift can be motorized, installed and set up from your lazy chair. Up to ten different configurations can be stored in the internal memory and activated at the press of a button. Very useful if you want to project different image ratios fullscreen.
Is the projector noisy? In the eco-mode absolutely not, then he is even whisper-quiet. With the lamp in the middle position the noise is audible, that typical noise from fans, but we still found it acceptable. In the highest position, you can clearly hear him. Attention, you choose the lamp mode in the picture menu, under the name ‘power consumption’.
The Epson menus are easy to navigate, although you have to go back to the manual for a word of explanation. You can set the place where they appear themselves. A word of explanation about the image presets is in order. For all your SDR content, choose the Natural image preset. The Cinema (and Digital Cinema) image presets use an additional filter to increase the color range. You should use those presets only for HDR images. Whoever uses the Natural image set for HDR will find the colors too dull, and vice versa who uses Cinema for regular content will quickly notice that colors are too intense.
Epson offers a whole series in its menus, and one of the most interesting is the option to save ‘Image preset modes’. It is a combination of image processing (noise reduction, super resolution and detail enhancement) that you can quickly call without completely changing image mode. That makes it easy to view the impact of your choices. All necessary options for calibrating the projector are also available.
We did not receive the original remote, but a compatible one that is a little simpler. The remote is illuminated, quite large and offers many possibilities to directly adjust image quality without first having to call up the entire menu.
On the real remote is also a button to adjust the lens, choose color mode, playback buttons for connected sources and the buttons for the wireless HD connection (in the case of the EH-TW9300W).
Epson EH-TW9300 – features
What about that, a projector with Full HD panel that still supports Ultra HD? This Epson works with LCD panels and like the models of JVC and the recent Acer projector, it uses ‘pixel hifting’. The Full HD image is very quickly shifted half a pixel diagonally and back, and combined with the necessary image processing that leads to an almost Ultra HD level of detail.
The Epson further supports active 3D viewing, an important feature for enthusiasts, especially now that 3D TVs are becoming a rarity. And finally you can also provide HDR images to him; he supports HDR10. If you choose the EH-TW9300W, you can use picture in picture to view two images at once. A source must come via HDMI, the other via the WirelessHD connection.
Epson EH-TW9300 – Image quality
We see mixed results in image processing. The projector does not always manage to perform complete error-free deinterlacing, so put your sources as much as possible in 720p or 1080p to avoid minor errors such as moiré or jagged edges. If there is too much noise in your source, you can work it away with the noise reduction. This yielded excellent results for both random and compression noise.
The pseudo-4K resolution of this Epson delivers very sharp images, but you do not get real Ultra HD detail, although you do get close to it. The result is slightly less detailed than that of the Acer V9800, which has the advantage of starting a panel with higher resolution. The projector offers a lot of possibilities to sharpen the image (super resolution and detail improvement), but do not be tempted to set it too high. Too much effect quickly leads to false detail.
There is the option to activate motion interpolation so that pan images become smooth, but this option only works on 1080p images at 24fps. So not for Ultra HD content, but also not if you use an Ultra HD Bluray player that forces you in 2160p output resolution. The motion interpolation works well, and we found the lowest and middle position an excellent choice, which does not cause too many artefacts.
The Epson delivers 2,500 lumens on paper, and that can also be achieved in our measurements. The dynamic image mode, with the lamp in the highest position, provides 2,350 lumens. The Natural Picture Preset, which you choose best for your movie pleasure, delivers 1,800 / 1,400 / 1,180 lumens, depending on the lamp mode. These are values, even in the lowest setting, where you can easily create a 110-inch image with some ambient light.
But actually you should do the lights, because this projector has an impressive good black value. In the Natural Image Preset we arrived at a contrast of about 5,800: 1 and that is still possible without using the dynamic iris. This can limit the light output in dark scenes to make black even darker. The effect is good and happens without visible pumping in the brightness, but you can hear the iris at work. Fortunately, it is not an irritating rattle, but rather a soft, deep tickle. As soon as you put the sound of the film on a normal volume, it is no longer audible.
The calibration of the EH-TW9300 is decent, but slightly less good than we expect from Epson. The gray scale has a very slight green tint. However, it was quite easy to calibrate, after which all other values came close to perfection without further adjustments. The color range is excellent, just like the color rendering (at least as soon as you calibrate the gray scale). The projector also shows excellent black detail.
HDR proves to be a tough challenge for projectors and that is no different on this Epson. To begin with, we encountered a problem with the HDMI input. When we set up our Ultra HD Blu-ray player in YCbCr 4:4:4 Chroma subsampling, an HDR signal appeared to arrive as 8 bit instead of 10 bit and as Rec.709 instead of Rec.2020 . This is probably because the HDMI connections do not have sufficient bandwidth for this signal. By putting the player in ‘auto’ (for resolution and Chroma), everything fell into place and we saw a 12-bit, 4: 2: 2 signal coming into Rec.2020. That is certainly something to look at, because initially the projector lost a lot of black detail, a problem that disappeared as soon as we adjusted the settings in the player.
Do not forget to switch the image preset to ‘Cinema’ or ‘Digital Cinema’ to get the full color range. The Epson provides a solid calibration for HDR10 images, but you find that it struggles to provide the necessary clarity. Activating the highest lamp mode is an improvement, but then you have to take the fan noise. You will find a more interesting trick in the advanced signal settings. There you search ‘Dynamic range’, where you will find four HDR modes besides SDR. Each fashion clips white values from a different level. That is 500, 1,000, 4,000 and 10,000 respectively for HDR-1 up to and including HDR-4. The later you clip, the darker the overall content becomes, because the maximum light output of the projector is fixed. Automatically the Epson usually chooses HDR Mode 2. Those who find it a bit too dark, choose HDR Mode 1. The clear details between 500 and 1,000 nits clippings, but since most image content is less than 500, that’s a compromise that to consider.
The Epson provides a proper calibration for HDR. The color range is very large (74% Rec2020 and 98% DCI-P3), but you feel that the brightness is not yet sufficient to really convince. However, that feeling increases considerably if you obscure the room well. In that case, the combination of the strong contrast, good light output and wide color range is enough to highlight the HDR effect. We still preferred to use the HDR mode 1, it seemed like a solid compromise.
For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter. For all other measurements we rely on a Spectracal C6 colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, an AVFoundry HDMI Pattern Generator , an HDFury Integral for HDR patterns and the Spectracal Calman for Business software.
Epson EH-TW9300 – Conclusion
The calibration of the gray scale of the EH-T9300 could have been better, but is certainly not bad. And the hassle with the HDMI connection requires some attention. But do not be mistaken, in a real home theater environment, the Epson delivers great results. Its ample light output and excellent black value create very dynamic and vivid images. Beautiful colors, impressive black detail, it is really enjoy. Even in HDR it can convince, and it has enough flexibility in the settings to adjust the picture if you want more light output. The price is also very sharp, and that makes the EH-TW9300 a very interesting buy for the film fans.