After a few years concentrating on the entry-level end of the market, Epson continues its foray into the high-end home cinema domain with the EH-TW5800. It doesn’t mess about. As well as looking every bit a serious workhorse piece of kit, with its no messing black/silver box design, the EH-TW5800 justifies its £3425 price tag with some effective features.
The most important for Blu-ray is its anti-blur "frame interpolation" tech, which inserts frames into movies to lessen blur. Its 3LCD panel also is capable of Full HD resolution, of course. It manages 1600 lumens of brightness - that’s on the high side for a home cinema projector - which tend to be rather murkier than day-to-day beamers in an attempt to achieve that cinematic necessity of deep blacks. As if to boast, there’s also a Super White mode. In the EH-TW5800’s case there’s little need for less light because it claims a 75,000:1 contrast ratio alongside a DeepBlack feature. Wow.
As befits a high-end projector, the EH-TW5800’s image can be tweaked to your heart’s content and is even ISF-certified (meaning it can be fine-tuned to professional cinema standard); everything from minute changes to colour temperature, skin tones and all types of picture noise are possible, some directly from the remote control.
But it’s all about blacks and blur - or lack of it - on our run-through of a few Blu-ray discs on the EH-TW5800. A projector’s main problem in reproducing deep blacks and bright, peak whites comes from its core make-up; how can a bulb shine light onto a screen and produce true black - which is a complete absence of light - in the same frame of film? Tricky stuff, but the EH-TW5800 manages it, achieving a stunning level of inkiness to black areas of an image, which still contain a lot of detail.
Meanwhile, bright objects are kept clean and replete with some gorgeous colours that always err on the side of natural.
Of the EH-TW5800’s other settings, you do have to be careful how you set-up the picture, but it needn’t be complicated. Accessed via the Signal menu, the frame interpolation feature can be set to off, low, normal or high and, as usual, it’s best to take the middle ground. Do that and the image becomes very enticing, with few artefacts such as blur or judder to detract from an image that’s got a heightened sense of depth and realism. Like most similar systems, Epson’s does create the occasional flicker on the edges of fast-moving objects - especially if used on its high setting – but the system remains essential and one of the best we’ve seen on a home cinema projector.
Despite some exhaustive picture tweak menus, setting-up and using the EH-TW5800 really isn’t difficult. The practical side is helped immensely by the EH-TW5800’s impressive lens shift feature - two manual dials alongside the x2.1 zoom lens can be turned to adjust the vertical and horizontal placement of the picture. It’s a cinch to do and makes choosing where to put the projector so much easier - it can pretty much go anywhere in a room.
Used in "Cinema Day" or even "Cinema Night" mode, the EH-TW5800 ramps-up the brightness and does run quite loud, but set to "HD" or "Silver Screen", it’s very, very quiet. If this is important to you, the Auto Iris is best left alone because it audibly creaks on both its "normal" and "high speed" settings.
Another small criticism is the slightly clunky onscreen menu. Although the remote is basic and well thought out, with dedicated buttons for all video inputs and shortcuts to most of the picture tweaks, going through the onscreen menus is slightly fiddly; the "escape" buttons has to be continually used - tricky in the dark, although there is an orange backlight button on the remote that illuminates it for around 10 seconds.
Those formerly nervous about buying into such a serious projector will love the EH-TW5800’s 5-year warranty (on both the projector and the lamp), something that helps is become worth every penny of its admittedly very high price.
An almost silent runner that provides stunning colour accuracy, realistic blacks and decent motion blur-suppressing circuitry, with the EH-TW5800 Epson has taken the complicated concept of high-end home cinema and made it both versatile and accessible. If you’ve got the cash there’s few better.