Epson EH-TW8200, full HD 3D projector: as good as it gets

Two years ago, I would not have imagined reviewing a projector product priced upward of Rs 200,000 and pegged at individual home customers rather than corporate enterprises. But so much has changed in recent months: multiplexes fitted to elevate the whole theatrical experience with technologies like 4K ( while making it much costlier!) and the cinema industry regularly offering products in 3-D , while DVDs are simultaneously available in high definition formats like Bluray...

There is an entire class of consumers which prefers to do its movie watching in the comfort of the home -- yet is not willing to compromise on the quality of the experience. Epson got the message quite early -- which is why its line of projectors has broadened from those geared mainly for corporate presentations to include home theatre projectors. The flagship of this consumer category is the Epson EH-TW8200, a full high definition ( 1080p) as well as a 3-D projector with some thoughtful design features which seem to have escaped the attention of other manufacturers.

Epson is the inventor and 'godfather' of the 3-LCD class of digital projectors -- the other competing technology is the Texas Instruments-created Digital Light Processing or DLP system. It would be difficult for most of us to tell the difference when the same movie is projected by these two rival systems, but the experts continue to claim that one or the other is better. From my limited understanding, I have gathered that 3-LCD might have the edge in light output and colour -- but the price to pay is a heavier equipment, since the light passes through 3 separate LCD panels that show the image for that color. The projector then recombines the light into a single full-color image and projects it through the lens.. much like an LCD-LED TV does. Well the EH-TW8200 is no lightweight at 8.4 kg so presumably this is the price you pay for a better image.

There is not that much 3-D content out there so to ensure you still get value for spending money on a 3-D projector, Epson has included the ability to interpolate a normal 2-D movie and create a 3-D experience out of it. This is obviously not the same as a movie shot in 3-D where the director gets to insert set pieces where various objects seem to fly straight at you... but it's an acceptable experience.

If you have tried to set up a projector at home you will know that it can be a hassle to get the machine exactly square with the surface. The slightest tilt and the image on the screen skews. Epson has provided a 47 % horizontal shift option in addition to some 96 % vertical,  which should take care of this problem. Again, they provide a zoom range of 2.1x which means that having adjusted the image to your screen, you can then tweak it a bit for that razor sharp focus.

I also like the nice design touch where the exhaust vents face towards the front rather the customary rear position. Now you don't have to sit with the fan noise ( and heat!) blasting away towards you!

The spec sheet will tell you the colour brightness is 2400 lumen and the contrast ratio is 6,00,000:1. Let's face it, we don't go around with meters measuring such things. For me the subjective experience is what matters -- and after viewing a few of my favourite things on DVD on the EH-TW8200, I can say it was way, way beyond what I had experienced viewing the same disks through a DVD player, on my 32 inch TV. Of course, the experience also depends on the quality of audio amplifiers and speakers you use with the projector.

The screen size can be adjusted from 30 inches diagonal to 300 inches, though you would have to have a very large room to project a 300 inch image -- that's 25 feet diagonal...  as big as  some 35mm theatre screens. The short focal length means the projector can be as close as 10 feet to a 100 inch diagonal screen... which is great if your room is small. I must also admit to not having any true 3-D collateral and so I can't speak for that experience.

Other touches include a picture-in-picture facility, if you choose to split the screen. HDMI and composite video connectivity is standard as are the video formats supported. The system consumes some 300 watts of energy which drops to .39W while in standby.

The asking price is Rs. 233, 599 and at that price I think they might have offered two RF 3-D glasses rather than one. I am also assuming anyone who spends this money on a superior projector would spend a good amount on the audio system and speakers as well. That's a matter of purse and preference; as far as the EH-TW8200 is concerned, I think this is as good as it gets when trying to replicate the best theatrical movie experience for the home. Anand Parthasarathy December 30 2013