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Epson’s top-of-the-line home projector is now under $4000, yet offers 3D, wireless HDMI and a three-year warranty. It’s incredible.

Epson recently announced that its anticipated R-series projectors, using reflective LCD technology, have been put on hold after production issues getting things just right. Our guess is that the company saw little point with belatedly releasing a non-3D premium projector, and decided to include this functionality, along with the incremental improvements that another year always produces.

So while the new R-series projectors are being developed, the Epson EH-TW9000W is it — the top of the line for the company’s home cinema range.

You might expect, as did we, the 9000W to be pretty similar to the $2799 EH-TW6000W which we reviewed in the January/February issue. How wrong you would be.

Equipment

To be kind to ourselves, I will point out that the styling is pretty similar to the TW6000W. But when assembling the specifications for this review, it became apparent that this projector is significantly bigger and heavier than that model. Indeed at 8.5kg it is on the heavy side, but not too heavy to sit comfortably suspended by my ceiling mount.

The next point of difference was the presence of thumb-wheels on the top of the projector. In addition to the usual lens ring adjustments for focus and zoom, these thumb-wheels are for vertical and horizontal lens shift. You also get a mighty 2.1-to-1 zoom range, so this unit is pretty accommodating for room geometry. For a 100-inch (2.54 metre) screen, for example, the projector can range anywhere between 2.98 and 6.36 metres. And the projector supports anamorphic lens modes if you’re keen to do the big stretch thing.

As with the cheaper projector, the 9000W comes with a built-in WirelessHD receiver, and a separate transmitter (pictured overleaf). This allows full HD — including the frame-packed 3D format — to be transmitted over distances of up to about ten metres to the projector. Yippee! No cables required! Except for power, of course.
That transmitter has one HDMI input. There are also two HDMI inputs on the projector itself, along with component and composite, but not S-Video. Plus there’s a D-SUB15 in case you have an ancient computer you want to use with the projector. (I do wonder why AV projectors are dropping S-Video, but keeping D-SUB15. Could it be required to make it a valid business expense for some purchasers?)

For this review we used both a direct HDMI connection and the WirelessHD system.

The connections it lacks, when compared with the cheaper TW6000W, are the audio inputs and USB. This is a serious home theatre projector which has no use for little built-in loudspeakers, nor images from a USB stick. Your AV system should be providing the sound, and your media player of choice should handle USB.

Of course the engine of this projector is based on three LCD chips. Another difference: these are larger ones than the TW6000W. Epson claims a brightness of up to 2400 lumens. By default the projector operates in low output mode, and so produces less. But with 3D signals it automatically kicks up the lamp’s brightness (and the cooling fan speed, as well).

For, of course, this is a 3D projector. It uses infrared to sync the 3D eyewear to itself. The IR transmitter is built into the projector. The glasses — you get two sets included — weigh 56 grams according to my scales, a bit on the heavy side (the lightest active 3D glasses come in at the low 20s of grams). And they are powered by button cells, something we applaud, since it means no need to have to recharge glasses; just keep a couple of the inexpensive CR2032 cells handy and if your glasses go flat (after maybe 30 or so 3D movies), pop in new ones. That’s far better than having to remember to plug them into a USB socket on a computer from time to time, even having to stop a movie to recharge.

Performance

Thanks to those useful installation features — wide zoom range and lens shift — installation was nice and easy. There were no powered adjustments for any of these settings, which on balance is probably quite sensible. Ideally, such settings should only need to be made once, so powered assistance is probably overkill.
But it does have one motor: a motorised lens cap which slides open when switched on, and closed again when switched off. Which is kind of convenient.

The default picture settings were generally quite sensible, with one exception. SD content fed to the projector was overscanning (i.e. the picture was upsized so that all four edges fell off the sides of the display area) massively. It was set to the maximum of 8% — so much overscanning that it was pushing important picture content off thescreen. This is easily resolved fortunately — go Menu: Signal/Advanced/Overscan/Off.

The default picture setting was ‘THX’, with the ‘ECO’ lamp setting engaged and, surprisingly, with the dynamic iris set to ‘OFF’. The lamp setting was to be expected, but the other two settings are interesting. My experience with ‘THX’ picture settings has thus far been confined to Panasonic TVs, and (as we’ve expressed several times) their yellow/green colour caste has failed to impress. But there was none of that here. The colour balance in THX mode seemed excellent.