Last week marked the launch of Epson’s latest 4K PRO-UHD projectors. A home cinema projector that sits nicely in the quality and value category. A projector that gives you all the benefits of 4K sharpness and colourful HDR images at half the price of native 4K projectors. Epson totally revamped their models from last year’s (the TW9300 and TW8300). Featuring 3 new dedicated image processors, 15 glass element lens, improved 4K enhancement and motorised lens shift and memory all in the same casing. So don’t be fooled by the case design.
Epson New Zealand treated us to a demo event for the launch of the EH-TW9400. Hiring a commercial cinema to show what the projector is capable of. The screen was 320 inches diagonal (over 3x the size of our demo room screen!). It was impressive that a projector at this price point, designed for home use was even able to fill the screen. Definitely punching above it’s weight from the get-go. We must admit the screen size did take a hit on the overall brightness. However in most cases this projector will produce around 100″ to 200″ images in typical home situations which brightness wouldn’t be an issue.
I know what you are thinking: “Isn’t the TW9400 (pictured left) only in Black?” The demo projector Epson NZ used was the EH-TW9400W, the special wireless version that comes with a white casing.
This article will go in to explaining how Epson’s 4K Enhancement technology works along with all the processors inside the unit that make it the projector to beat at the price! The difference between white-light output vs colour-light output, plus the differences between the TW8400 and the TW9400.
Epson’s all-new dedicated processors:
- 4K Enhancement Processor
- HDR Processor
- Digital Image Processor
Pixel-Shift 4K Enhancement
This is Epson’s take on 4K in their home cinema projectors. Through the 3LCD chips they display a 1080p resolution picture. However the 4K enhancement doubles the amount of 1080p chips. This technology shifts each pixel diagonally to what they describe as double Full HD resolution (1920×1080). The entire system processes 12 million pixels of information. The way that the pixels shift diagonally allows more light to pass through the chip creating brighter images. Epson New Zealand used a commercial cinema space to celebrate the launch of this projector.
We were viewing images on a whopping 320″ screen! Sitting fairly close to the screen, we can assure you the 4K enhancement technology was astounding! We have already seen a lot native 4K images in our demo room and thought we were gonna be able to see those pixel up close, but there were none! Fine strands of hair were visible, stubble and pores were crystal clear. It feels like a 4K image and nothing comes close at this price-point. We must point out that a true 4K is slightly sharper. We have the ability to A/B test in the showroom. However at the $5,000 mark, this is the closest you are gonna get to a native 4K image.
Their enhancement technology is similar to what JVC did with their previous fleet of D-ILA projectors (X5900, X7900 X9900) and their 4K eShift technology. In their latest 2019 fleet they finally decided to move to a native 4K chipset and their flagship NX9 implements the first 8K eShift technology inside a projector. JVC DLA-N Series
HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range”, and is defined as the range of colour and contrast in an image. It is the range between light and dark images, meaning you can see much more detail across the bright and dark parts of a picture. This also results in deeper blacks and brighter whites giving a greater sense of depth. Colours are more vibrant, rich and natural. The TW9400 processes HDR10 content and accepts 100% of HDR source information. It doesn’t support Dolby Vision, IMAX Enhanced, or HDR10+ yet. If that is on your list of projector priorities, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Digital Image processing
The TW9400 supports real-time 12 bit analogue to digital video processing. This results in smoother tonal transitions and eliminates colour/tone banding and other compression imperfections. Colour banding can be a real issue in images of the bright blue sky. You usually see colour banding as you look across from the horizon from an image of blue sky.
This type of technology uses 3 liquid crystal micro-displays to create the projector image. One chip for each primary colour (red, blue and green). Inside the projector, the first part of the process is the light source. Projectors use laser, bulb or LED lights to create the purest white light possible. The white light then passes through the 3 dedicated LCD panels. The 3 colour images are combined using a prism to form a full-colour image. The image is then passed through the lens and projected onto the screen. This technology results in much more colour and brighter images over the conventional DLP technology.
Lamp life and ownership cost
Epson intentionally make the ownership cost for their projectors lows by keeping the replacement bulb price to a minimum. A huge benefit of the Epson home cinema projectors is their low bulb costs, making it not much of a burden for owners to energizer their picture over time. Replacement bulbs cost less than $200. Which is quite a worth while feature to point out. Considering some manufacturers charge up to $699 retail for replacement bulbs!
Colour Light output vs White Light output
Light output is measured in Lumens. The higher the number equals a brighter picture. Most manufactures list the ‘white brightness’ of their projector but not the ‘colour brightness’. You need to be careful when looking a projector specs, as the colour brightness is just as important as the colour brightness.
Whats the difference between the TW9400 and the TW8400?
The main feature that the TW9400 has is it’s ability to be ISF professionally calibrated. You are able to connect this projector with calibration tools such as CalMAN (software), and SpectraCal Colorimeters (harware). Using these tools it is possible to calibrate the levels of brightness, colour and contrast against the ambient lighting of the room and the projection environment. This usually means hiring a professional who has this equipment into your home to do the calibration for you.
Simply put, the TW8400 is white and the TW9400 is black. You cannot get the cheaper 8400 in black. Black cased projectors are preferred in dedicated home cinemas, as the walls and ceiling are usually darker (ideally painted black). The white casing in the 8400 is favoured in lifestyle spaces with lighter painted walls and ceilings such as living rooms.
Sources: Epson NZ, Epson Australia, lifewire, stereonet, Department of Post