Epson EMP-TW20

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Epson EMP-TW20

Pros

  • Lens shift, Good contrast

Cons

  • Could use a few more features, Poorly designed remote

Bottom Line

If you're restricted by a limited budget, but still want a good home theatre set-up, the TW-20 is an excellent choice.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 69 stores)

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Epson has confidently started 2006 by ensuring its extensive projector range continues to cater for those home theatre enthusiasts who may be restricted to a limited budget.

The native 16:9 aspect ratio, high-definition-compatible Dreamio TW20 LCD projector takes over the entry-level position from 2004's TW10h, and while it may not provide a huge number of technological improvements, there are enough new features to hold the attention.

At a quick glance you'd barely notice any physical differences between the two models. While it's not the smallest projector on the market (373 x 295 x 111mm), the modern, slightly off-white styling of the TW20 won't look out of place in most homes, whether it's ceiling mounted or sitting on your coffee table. One new feature that does stand out is more mechanical than technical. The ability to manually shift the image horizontally and vertically via the lens (using two dials sunk into the casing) makes a big difference when aligning the image on the screen.

Being typically inventive blokes, we've made our own ceiling mount from a nylon chopping board and a basic speaker bracket from Jaycar. It works okay, but there is wasted space at the top of the image that would require a certain amount of keystone adjustment. With the TW20, all alignment woes disappeared, and we were able to shift the image up and then increase its overall size from what we're used to by at least 10%. It may not sound like much, but we're working with big images here, so that 10% makes a big difference when the original image was just on 100 inches. The TW20 incorporates all the expected connectivity options (RGB, s-video/composite, component and so on) but its ability to handle onboard progressive processing is one new feature that has been well considered. With this attribute now part of the projector hardware, a DVD player unable to output a progressive signal through its component ports won't have to be put out to pasture.

So, apart from the inclusion of progressive processing, when it comes to the projected image the TW20 seems to have barely moved forward in the technological field. While it boasts a hardware-based Cinema Filter (a fancy new name for the TW10h's Colour Reality processor?), it still sports the exact same triple LCD display hardware as its predecessor.

However, where the TW10h's 130W bulb provided a brightness rating of "up to" 1,200 ANsI lumens and a contrast ratio of 800:1, with the new model Epson has attempted to improve the image by scaling up to a 135W bulb that increases the brightness specification to a definite 1,200 ANsI lumens and the contrast ratio to 1,000:1. so the question has to be asked, does this minor increase in specifications mean the TW20's picture has improved over the TW10h? The answer to that comes in two parts - while we don't think the quality of the picture is any better than the earlier model, there is definitely an improvement to the depth of the image. By this we mean the colours have a more vivid feel to them, and there is a noticeable improvement in the blacks.

In certain scenes, the TW10h can provide a less-than-realistic effect in dark areas, but when comparing identical scenes from our test movies the new model eliminated much of that and provided a clearly improved level of contrast. One brickbat has to be mentioned - Epson, if you're going to do away with the cool remote that lives in the back of the main unit and replace it with a chunky, glow-in-the-dark model, at least make the buttons big enough so you can see what's stamped on them. The remote is useless when the lights are out ...

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