If you asked us off the top of our heads who the leader in the 1080p projector market was we would have said "Panasonic". It surprised us then to find out that it was in fact Epson, and by a large margin. Its TW2000 holds about a third of the market, and it has now been followed up by two models, the: TW4000 (AU$4,799) and TW5000 (AU$5,299). Both projectors are virtually identical, save for a couple of extra tweaks on the TW5000 and a slightly higher price.
The Epson TW4000 is a full-HD 3LCD projector with a 6000:1 contrast ratio. Epson says it's managed to push the contrast ratio up by a factor of about four from the previous generation, and up to 75,000:1 through the use of its new Auto Iris, which is available in Normal or Fast mode. Both the TW4000 and TW5000 feature Epson's E-TORL lamp, which is rated at 4000 hours and delivers 1600 lumens of light output. Video processing is catered for by the HQV Reon VX video chipset.
One of the biggest differences between the older projector and the newer ones is the inclusion of a 100Hz mode — or Frame Interpolation, as Epson calls it. Unfortunately, based on the demonstration we had, it performs similarly to most other systems on the market — that is to say, judder is removed and movement is sharper, but it still suffers from.
For an extra AU$500, the TW5000 adds an extra year of warranty to make it up three years, an ISF-approved red, blue and green adjustment mode, and the ability to add an anamorphic lens. An anamorphic lens enables projectors to display in true cinematic 2.35:1 ratio without black bars appearing. Of course, the lens itself costs AU$5,000.
If you already have the TW2000, there really isn't any compelling reason to upgrade: both use the same LCD chipset and retail for around the same price. Sure, you get slightly better blacks, but no one would want to pay five grand just for Frame interpolation. No one.
While we welcome the TW5000's ISF calibration options, we don't know if many people would pay just as much again for an anamorphic lens.
The Epson EH-TW4000 is a welcome addition to the sub-AU$5,000 1080p projector market. While we're sceptical of the benefits of Frame Interpolation, we think that anyone who is in the market for a full-HD projector would be well served by road testing one of the TW4000s. And if the extra features appeal, the TW5000.