The Epson Dreamio EMP-TW10H is basically an enhanced version of last year's TW10 entry-level projector. Most notably, the latest release increases the Dreamio's brightness rating up to 1200 ANSI lumens and it now delivers a contrast ratio of 800:1.
In a smooth cream and silver glossy case, the EMP-TW10H is an attractively designed home theatre projector. It might be a little imposing for some living rooms, measuring a whopping 40.2 wide by 11.4cm high by 29.4cm deep. At 3.6kg it is quite heavy and considering Epson doesn't provide a carry case, it is cumbersome to travel with.
Two fiddly elevation legs screw out from the base of the unit to adjust the angle of projection. Buttons on the TW10H's control panel allow keystone correction, volume adjustment, on-screen menu navigation, source selection and of course powering the projector.
Once in place it is easy to get the TW10H up and running in no time. A range of inputs at the back allows the Dreamio to connect to almost anything in your living room, though Epson doesn't provide any cables other than power. The projector hosts inputs for RCA video, S-Video, component RCA, and a VGA port for PC connections. There are a couple of RCA jacks for audio if you use the TW10H's tinny speakers, but we suggest avoiding these if you have expectations of well-balanced home theatre.
All of these buttons are duplicated on the tiny business-card sized remote control. The remote has a couple of extra buttons such as pause, which freezes whatever image is on the screen. As infra-red sensors are at the front and back of the projector, the remote control works well in most positions around the room. Front and rear projection is supported as is mounting the unit on the ceiling.
We are impressed with the size of the TW10H's thrown images. A native 16:9 resolution of 854x480 pixels ensures that widescreen DVDs are shown in all their glory. With the Dreamio's lamp shining up to 1200 ANSI lumens, images are bright when projected in reasonably dark settings.
Four image presets are available for different lighting conditions. During our tests we found "living room" most suited to our test environment. The "dynamic" preset boosts brightness to full intensity for use where ambient light is present. For very dark surroundings, "Theatre" works well by dropping the brightness slightly thus increasing the vividness of colours. We found "theatre black" (which decreases the brightness to 400 lumens) to dull for our test situation but the setting is there for pitch black rooms.
Dug out from the top of the unit are focus and zoom rings allowing you to project wide images from relatively short distances. However, being an LCD projector, the TW10H succumbs to the "screen door" effect when projecting images over large distances.
Depending on usage, Epson rates the life of the 130W UHE lamp between 1900 hours (if Dynamic/Living Room/Theatre has been used continuously) and 2900 hours (if only Theatre Black has been used). With replacement bulbs costing AU$349, operational cost for the TW10H works out to be between 12 and 18 cents (depending on the colour mode used) per hour.
The trade-off you get using Theatre Black mode is whisper quiet operation of the fan -- 29dB. Other settings cause about 38dB of fan noise which is noticable during quiet parts of movies.
Using the Dreamio EMP-TW10H is a good way to enjoy widescreen DVDs at home. Compared to the high price of plasma screens, this AU$1,999 projector is an economical way of experiencing theatre at home on a budget.