We’ve reviewed a fair number of business projectors on IT Reviews, but not so many home cinema projectors. These gadgets are growing in popularity, so it’s time to redress the balance a bit. After all, would you rather pay four grand for a plasma screen or less than a quarter of that for a projector that produces the same size image?
True, that’s not an entirely fair comparison – projectors are noisier than plasma screens, for a start – but projector technology has come a long way in the last five years, and decent projection technology is now available in relatively low-cost projectors such Epson’s ‘Dreamio’ (crap name alert) EMP-TW10H.
We’ll get the specs out of the way first. It’s a TFT-based projector, not one of the fancier DLP units. But the lack of a chip with thousands of tiny pivoting mirrors on it isn’t necessarily a drawback, as we’ll see. Native resolution is 854 x 480 dots, but larger images can be squeezed into this resolution with relatively little distortion. The 130W lamp chucks out 1,200 ANSI Lumens and the projector has a contrast ratio of 800:1.
Conveniently, the EMP-TW10H can take input from a variety of sources. You can use it with a PC (so it does have potential for business use… or Doom 3 on the big screen). You can plug in composite video sources (e.g. a VCR) and use S-video too (from your DVD player).
There are also individual A/V inputs for video cameras and games consoles. But with the exception of a short SCART-to-Composite adapter cable, there’s not much else in the box to help you set up your projector, so if you don’t already have the necessary cables, you’ll have to budget for those.
Plug in your chosen source, switch on the projector and away you go. There’s a tiny remote control to help you adjust the settings, many of which are quite sensible, like colour adjustment for different types of input, the ability to squeeze an image to fit the screen and so on. Focus and image size adjustment are manual, but that’s the easiest way to do such things anyway.
If you adjust the brightness setting, the cooling fan changes speed too. The brighter the setting, the louder the fan, so if you have a dark living room then you can watch with the minimum of noise. There will still be some fan hiss, but less than you’d hear from the average PC. And since you’re likely to have the volume cranked up anyway, it’s probably not going to be a problem.
There’s vertical keystone adjustment, so you can have the projector tilted up by 10 degrees or so, but no lateral adjustment, so your screen has to be perpendicular to the line of projection, which is fair enough for a projector at this price.
The image quality is good – very good, in fact. We noticed no blurring or other such problems and the colours were sharp and clear, with good contrast, whether watching films or playing console games.
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