For most, Epson is synonymous with printing. Although this isn’t a false statement, the company also offer a variety of product ranges including projectors for home and business, as well robots for industrial use. While the latter may not be of interest to the average consumer, a range of projectors should surely pique the interest of some. The Epson TW9200 Projector is one such in the range, which offers an HD cinematic experience for your home. The projector is geared toward gamers with its 3D capabilities, but can just as easily fit comfortably into your living room environment for a feel of the theatre in your home.
Design and Build
Upon unboxing the TW9200, you will immediately notice its gargantuan presence and poise. The design of the TW9200 is reminiscent of the F-22 Raptor with its front side ventilation; one for intake, and one for exhaust. The lens is placed smack in the middle with a large aperture that takes away some of the aggressiveness from the ventilation system. There are no out and out straight edges to speak of, with more curved and circular patterns coming to the fore. There is also a strange mix of matte and glossy finishing on the TW9200, which, in the end, work well together. The only real downfall in terms of its build is the overall weight. Still, this isn’t enough to challenge the placement of the projector, which can still sit comfortably atop just about any cabinet or table.
There are a host of inputs available on the rear of the unit, which include two HDMI input (both 3D enabled), D-Sub (PC), component (RGB), S-video, RS-232C, 12v trigger, and miniUSB. In case you were wondering, the 12v trigger can be used to power external sources, mostly used by connoisseurs with options such as curtain arrangements, anamorphic lenses or motorised screens. Apart from all the input options available on the rear, there’s very little else in terms of buttons to take away from the cleanness of design. What there is are two wheels housed above the lens for vertical and horizontal shifting, another two wheels for zoom and focus, and three LED lights for notifications. On the right side of the unit you’ll find some menu buttons, which are hidden away from view by a sliding door.
Display and Performance
While the build and design may scream seriousness, looks can sometimes be deceiving. Thankfully, there’s no such issues here. Although the weight is a negative aspect to the build of the TW9200, it, in no uncertain terms, indicates the seriousness of no-compromise quality in terms of its specifications. Once you’ve correctly setup the TW9200, you will enjoy great picture, with good contrast and black levels, even during the bright midday sunshine. (This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your blinds drawn though, as direct sunlight may cause some viewing issues). Optimum viewing period is obviously after dark, but the picture is so crisp and clear you couldn’t really distinguish between the projector and typical LCD panel TV. In fact, I would go as far as to say that some darker scenes are better viewed on the projector than LCD screen, both in terms of the contrast offered, and the amount of detail you are able to pick up with the larger surface area.
HD quality is also impressive over such a large area. Apart from adjusting the focus on the unit itself to aid the crispness, further clarity and sharpness can be adjusted from the menu. The medium setting seems to work fine for most video, as the extreme settings starts becoming grainy, much like an old oil painting. Additionally, there is a Motion Detection setting that enhances action scenes on high-res video. This not only remove the judder and blurriness of fast paced scenes, but also removes the need for smoothening techniques that take away from the actual cinematography or game.
When buying a projector for the home, the last thing to consider is whether it supports 3D. Because let’s face it, many of us are merely interested in the enlarged viewing area. That being said, the 3D performance on the TW9200 isn’t something to pass as a mere mention, delivering just as good video quality as with the 2D option. Furthermore, there are multiple options for the type of 3D to project, which isn’t a necessity, but something useful to have. Then there’s the forced 3D option, which converts standard 2D image to 3D. Again, this isn’t a necessity, but something to use when you really feel for a different viewing experience. The forced 3D doesn’t deliver the same crisp and clear performance of the pre-recorded 3D movies, and can quickly leave you feeling a little dizzy and light-headed depending on the speed of the content you’re watching at the time. Having tested on both 3D Blu-rays and 3D games via the PC, the performance is spectacular, free of any ghosting noise that tends to creep in on some devices. The feat is even more impressive considering you’re now watching 3D on a +100” display. If there is one flaw with the 3D picture mode is that it readjusts the brightness and contrast you’ve pre-set in the 2D mode. While the contrast poses now complaints, the brightness change means that viewing isn’t optimised for daytime 3D playback. In addition, the increased brightness and power required for 3D playback implies a higher noise level from the fan trying to cool down the system’s internals.
For the most part, setup is as straightforward as making sure all the correct cables are plugged in; that being the power supply, HDMI (or other video input). Fine tuning on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish. There are a number of different setups and options to consider when seeking the optimum setup. The setup is even adaptable to the size of the room you’re in, with its 2.1x optical zoom, in conjunction with horizontal and vertical image shifting. While zooming doesn’t pose too much of a challenge, the same cannot be said for the adjustment of focus. That isn’t to say it’s incredibly difficult to achieve, but finding that true sweet spot may take a few additional left and right turns of the wheel, especially for projector positions that are more than five metres away from the wall/cloth projected upon. Horizontal shifting is not something that should be of too much concern during setup, especially since the whole unit can simply be moved into position. The same, though, cannot be said about vertical shifting, which often poses quite a lot of problems when manually having to adjust the alignment by placing objects beneath the unit. This is fixed by means keystone correction, which is the distortion of the image to compensate for the distortion as a result of its position. All that considered, the TW9200 doesn’t have many of these issues, since the vertical shifting allows the lens to be moved vertical depending on the angle to the wall. Even still, the option is still available for those with really tight environments or where the projector is forced to be placed too high or too low to for normal vertical shifting.
Other setups are provided in the onscreen menus. Settings are broken up into different sections, including Image, Signal, Settings, Extended, and Memory options. Image includes Color Mode, Brightness, Contrast, Color Saturation, Tint, Sharpness, Color Temperature, Skine Tone, Advanced, Power Consumption, and Auto Iris menus, some of which include further sub-menus to complete selections. Signal includes, 3D Setup, Aspect, Position, Deinterlacing, Motion Detection, Frame Interpolation, Super-resolution, and Advanced settings options. Settings include Keystone, HDMI Link, Lock Setting (parental control), Projection, User Button, and Picture in Picture. The Extended menu includes Operation, Display, Input Signal, Panel Alignment, and Language options. And finally, Memory includes options to save and recall setups. While these may seem straight forward, these options do make quite a lot of difference. There are options to quieten the fan when it becomes too noisy, lowering the power consumption to save on the electricity bill, as well as strength, depth and type of 3D output. Some of these options are not for the novice user, and do require some know-how or research. Despite all these settings, there isn’t any exclusive game settings, even with the ‘game’ tag being associated with the TW9200.
The TW9200 is one of Epson’s top products within its projection range for 2013/2014, the only higher placed model being its sibling, the TW9200W, which includes Wi-Fi streaming. The biggest pitfall for the TW9200 is its price; the recommended retail price is R47,000. When you consider the amount of smart TVs being introduced into the market at a much lower premium, some with large enough screens to drown out your living on its own, you have to question why you’d want one of these. The projector may be marketed as a gaming projector, but I can’t see it fulfilling this role, as it is quite tricky to have your typical gaming setup for such a large projection. For home entertainment, however, this is quite ideal. With a few friends and family around, this is a perfect solution to movie night. Not to mention that there are very few projectors with the same quality 3D options available on the market. All things considered, there’s very little, if anything, left unturned when it comes to overall performance and setup options for the Epson TW9200, and will not be a waste of your hard-earned cash, if you do decide to splurge a little to own one of these.