Epson EMP TW1000 & TW2000

Epson just might have the answer to make movies look as good at home as they do the cinema.

There really is nothing like a big screen to gaze on to really get that whole cinema experience. As far as I’m concerned, LCD’s and Plasma TV’s can be damned unless they’re showing me a picture as big as a projector can.

Don’t get me wrong. Flat-screen TV’s using LCD, Plasma, and even the upcoming variations of carbon nano-tube technology are all brilliant in their own ways, but unless they’re showing me a screen as big as my wall for my movie viewing experience, I really don’t care.

Today we’re looking at two such things that let you enjoy movies the way they were meant to be enjoyed. They produce images in excellent detail and while they can dent the wallet a bit – and each in their own way – you know you’re getting something quality with each dollar that you shed.

For now, let’s focus on the bigger picture. Literally.

A big picture. A vast picture. A huge screen that shows the films you remember from those days when you were younger and everything was much bigger.

I’m guessing that you don’t exactly have a cinema in your own home. Nevermind that, we’ll make one. Ignore the tacky red curtains and soiled plush seats for a few minutes as with just a little bit of moving stuff around, you can be sitting in the middle of your very own home theatre.

The EMP TW1000 is a new projector from Epson that can help you here. It comes equipped with 1 HDMI port, 10-bit colour, 1080p resolution, and uses 3LCD technology to project visuals through a 1200 ANSI Lumens lamp at a contrast ratio of 12,000:1.

Now this might all just seem like numbers to you so let me explain what all this means. Current screens all come with HDMI ports which more or less have become the defacto standard to send out video & audio from a device.

10-bit colour means that you’re going to get over 1 billion colours viewed on your image. Think of it as seeing things as they were when they were originally shown at the movies: it’s that good. A resolution of 1080p will more or less guarantee that too as it is the resolution all LCD’s and Plasmas are aiming for as it is right now. And displaying a picture through 3LCD technology will show you some extraordinary colour and detail.

The EMP TW1000 is excellent. Sheer excellence. I would buy one if I could pry myself away from buying the ridiculous amount of gadgets I already buy: it’s that good. I tested it at home connected to an Xbox 360 running both games and high definition video content, checking it against standard definition on one of the older Panasonic projectors sitting in the living room. There is easily a noticeable difference, and I’m not just talking about the clarity changes between standard and high definition.

While our old Panasonic is good, the Epson is better. The lens has weight to it, there are more options for shifting position of the lens, and the menu is decked out with enough features to make even the most fussy of control freaks happy.

And the picture – oh, the picture – is bloody brilliant.

But then there are people who could probably find reason to poke holes at the TW1000. Well if you’re one of those sorts of people who really does want the best but still can’t afford their very own movie complex, Epson have the EMP TW2000.

A part of me now wishes it didn’t test this model because now I whimper every time I load up our older projector to turn a movie on. Or worse, I watch it on my monitor and miss the experience of something quite so beautiful.

The TW2000 takes what’s so brilliant about the TW1000 and turns it up a few notches by making it just that much better. You will pay for the extra brilliance, but what you get might just make the extra cash just that more pleasing.

For instance, you get an extra HDMI port so now you can plug in two HDMI equipped devices. Maybe you’ve got a brand spanking new Home Theatre PC (wait a couple of weeks and I’ll tell you how to build one) or you’ve got a Blu-ray player.

You also get a better colour system and technology giving you a proper deep black as well as controls of whites and highlighted parts of what you watch so it doesn’t overexpose and lose detail. The last thing you want is to see a scene where everything on screen becomes vaporised to oblivion in a rush of white light. And if you’re watching a darker movie, you want to see what’s lurking in the shadows: this will let you do that.

Plus a 50,000:1 contrast ratio compared to its TW1000’s sibling rivalry at 12,000:1. Don’t get me wrong, 12,000:1 is excellent as that’s already going to give you an incredibly amount of detail and colour definition. But 50,000:1? I’m not even allowed to say how sweet that is in this review. Think “king of the world” and you’re getting the right idea.

And this projector is a lot heavier than you might expect. While still the same physical size as the TW1000, you can feel the extra weight. The equipment feels heavier and the glass is probably just that much better, adding to the feeling that you know you’re getting something that borders itself on remarkable and leaves other projectors miserable in its wake.

There is a catch though. To get the best, you have to be ready to fork out the dollars to have the best. And for the best, you should be prepared as Epson’s crown jewel sits on the top with an RRP of $4999. Five thousand dollars might seem like a lot – and it is – so if you don’t feel like you’d be able to point out the difference between the contrast ratios, colour processing, and anything else, you can always settle for something that’s still somewhat superior with the TW1000 at its Recommended Retail Price of $3499.

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I would feel as if I’m missing something if I didn’t point one thing out though, and that is that projectors such as the TW1000 and TW2000 are still geared towards people who have home theatre setups. And by home theatre, I don’t mean that you’ve got a closed-off room with comfy seats, a popcorn maker, and a high-end reflective screen (although that would be great with the TW2000) but rather that you already have a home theatre amplifier connected with some speakers.

I say this because there isn’t any audio processing done on either of these projectors. That was something of a thing of confusion when we first unboxed these at the office as only a few of us had amplifiers at home so knew what we were on about. Both the EMP TW1000 and TW2000 require an audio output to be sent in a different direction. People who have had high-end projectors in the past will in fact be used to this but those of us who started on the lower-end models (like the one reviewed here recently, the DM1) might expect a projector to come with some element of sound and that’s simply not the case with these models.

In the case of something like a Blu-ray player or PlayStation 3, this might mean pulling audio from an optical connection or RCA connection while sending the video streaming out over an outstanding 1080p HDMI connection. If you’ve got an Xbox 360, you’ll probably have to be content with the component cables as the HDMI port found on the back of an Xbox just won’t let you plug an HDMI cable and the Xbox breakout cable in at the same time.

It is the unfortunate side of things but one that goes part & parcel with such a high end device. The plain and honest truth about both of these projectors is that in how brilliant they each are – and there aren’t many negatives that I could find other than the price & the audio issue – they are more for someone who already has some element of a setup.

And if you do have an amplifier and a proper 5.1, 6.1, or whatever-point-one setup that it is, you will find nothing but stunning pleasure with either of these two excellent projectors.

Product: Epson EMP TW1000 & TW2000 projectors

Vendor: Epson

RRP: $3499 for the TW1000, $4999 for the TW2000

Website: Epson

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark