Epson EH TW Series - Home Cinema Projector review

 Epson EH TW (Range) 3600 vs. TW3200 Home Cinema Projector review

Note August 2013 (Updated) 


Is 3D a fad, again?

3D fad again
The 3-D craze all started in 1952 with 
Arch Oboler's 1952 BWANA DEVIL.

If like many you're not into 3D and can't imagine 10 friends with 3D glasses trying to have a good time at your place why not save some money and in many ways get a better projector with the Epson TWXXX for 99.9% of content.

EH TW3600 vs. TW3200 Home Cinema Projector review
Epson TW3600 Projector (top) TW3200 (bottom)

Epson EMP TW3600 vs. TW3200

"..Well strike me down with a zillion contrast ratio zeros.."

Note Epson's True HD 2D TW-3600 & TW-3200

The two new low prices HD 1080P Home Cinema projectors are replacing the TW3500 but are the really the same? Do the model numbers simply bamboozle the people that don't do their homework?


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You can come to your own conclusion but whichever model you buy you will be getting on of the best HD LCD projectors around. The Epson TW3200/TW3600 is one very good projector.

Just as the previous TW3500 was.

Note Great projector, so-so marketing.

There is almost no difference between the TW3200 and TW3600 models and we'll prove it. Same projector, different model number? The similar RRP should be a give away, if they were really that different wouldn't it be reflected in the RRP?

Note People are wising up..

"..It's clever marketing for the ignorant.."

"..I too have just compared the 3200 and 3600 and can't, for the life of me, see enough of a reason to spend the extra 300 quid for the 3600. Those same specs are circulating on both the UK and European sites so if there was a typo then it's been overlooked more than once. So if all the spec sheets are to be believed, for under a grand we can enjoy the D7, C2fine technology that used to only grace the mid to high-end Epson PJ's.. -- www.avforums.com

" ..I think that difference between 3200 and 3600 will not be justified. 400€ difference is a lot.. For 400 you can buy a very nice projection screen.." -- www.avforums.com
 

Note This is hardly normal marketing, so why would Epson go to this trouble?

One theory would be if you can supply a supposedly better model (of any competitively shopped item) to retail chains, this would allow them to price the "better" TW-3600 projector without what would otherwise be fierce price competition on the internet (via the countless drop-ship e-tailers). It's just a theory and could be completely wrong.

(Most web shops would not keep stock, they may say they do but in reality the add a few percent to the wholesale price and ship it from the distributor to you, but that's a whole other story.)

We've seen manufacturers make major changes on the box while makingno or minimal changes to the product, people sometimes pay more based on specifications which may mean very little in reality.

You may have seen the same thing with washing machines and almost every home appliance.

Very small changes so you can't say you could have got the exactsame thing cheaper elsewhere.

Note We can almost see the marketing guys thinking..

"..How about we say it's half the contrast of the "better" model?.."

We may be too skeptical and totally wrong about the marketing angle but where did 18,000:1 come from that's already been mentioned? How did they end up with 25,000:1 on the TW3200 being exactly half of the TW-3600, which by the way uses the same LCD panel and lamp!

Epson TW-3200 = RGB liquid crystal shutter projection system, 0.74-inch wide panel with MLA (D7, C2Fine, 12Bit) not 10 bit as some claim.

Data Sheet (Note UK)

Epson don't need to rely upon that sort of marketing, their products stand on their own. It's a shame. Look below, how could it be that everything is the same but the contrast ratio and brightness? We note an error being Powered zoom 2.1x for the TW3200, it's not. So if Epson can't get their specifications correct what chance do the rest of us have!

Model
TW3200
TW3600
     
Resolution
1080p (1920x1080)
Projection Lens Focal Length
22.5 mm - 47.2 mm
Projection System
RGB liquid crystal shutter projection system
Projection Lens Focus Zoom Type
Manual focus
Native Format
16:09
Projection Lens F Number
2.0 - 3.17
LCD Panel
0.74-inch wide panel with MLA (D7, C2Fine, 12Bit)
0.74-inch wide panel with MLA (D7, C2Fine, 12Bit)
Contrast Ratio
25, 000:1 dynamic
50, 000:1 dynamic
     
Lamp Hours
4, 000 hours normal, 5, 000 hours eco
 
Lens Shift
Vertical: -96.3% to +96.3% (H Center, Manual), Horizontal: -47.1% to +47.1% (V Center, Manual)
 
Throw Ratio
1.34 - 2.87:1
Projection Distance
100" screen 2.98 - 6.36 m
Lamp Type
200W UHE E-TORL
 
Screen Size
30" to 300"
Light output
White light output: 1800 lumens, Colour light output: 1800 lumens
White light output: 2000 lumens, Colour light output: 2000 lumens
Zoom
Powered zoom 2.1x
Optical x2.1
     
Control
1 x 3.5 mm mini-jack, 1 x D-sub 9pin
Input Video
2 x HDMI, 1 x RCA (Yellow), 1x S-Video, 1 x Component Video
Direct Power On/Off
YES
Colour Video Processing
PW390
On Screen Menu
21 languages
Colour Modes
5 colour modes (Dynamic, Living room, Natural, Cinema, x.v.Color)
 
Input Computer
2 x HDMI, 1 x D-sub 15-pin (RGB)
 
Input HDMI
2 x HDMI
 
Cinema Filter
YES
Output Audio
1 x stereo mini-jack
 
Security
Kensington lock hole, password protection, key lock
 
Input Audio
1 x stereo mini-jack
 
     
Power Consumption Stand By
0.3W (communication off)
Power Consumption Lamp On
Normal/Eco: 272/224W
     
Projector Warranty
2 years
Noise level
Normal/Eco: 28/22 dB
Weight
7.3kg
Dimensions D x W x H
360 x 450 x 136 mm
Lamp Warranty
3 years in UK

Source

Note We'd like to see the real contrast ratio

Measured via more realistic test such as ANSI WV-37 4x4 using a checkerboard Pattern.

ANSI WV-37 4x4 Checkerboard Pattern.

This way you test for an average reading of the brightest white and darkest black.


Update Q3, 2013

Sit down, you won't believe what we've just seen.

TW3200 and TW3600

We tested a TW3200 vs. TW3600 using the same screen, room HDMI, PC etc. We used a HDMI splitter.

The TW3XXX Epson Projectors were side-by-side, then one on top of the other (Not in a Brokeback Mountain way). We asked other people to come in with no knowledge of which was which and confirm our readings also to validate our opinions as to which image looked the best..

Well strike me down with a zillion contrast ratio zeros.

The TW3200 was BETTER in terms of contrast than the TW3600 in everyCINEMA mode, Cinema, Natural and Living Room!


Side by side or on top, same result.

The only mode where the TW3600 was brighter was Dynamic which as we often say is useless for Movies if you have that much light in the room you won't be watching any sci-fi, that's for sure.

Dynamic is also the mode where we all thought the Epson TW3200 projector looked a tad better, that's possibly because it was not quite as bright and therefore slightly more detailed. Brightness is not your friend if you want subtle detail.

Testing contrast ratio
Testing contrast ratio, real not that Dynamic rubbish.

In the above test using Cinema mode (the one you'll use the most) theTW3200 scored just over 10% better in contrast ratio (307:1 vs. 270:1) we set the projectors back 3m from our standard screen.

You can see light being reflected onto the projector cases as well as other items in the (dark painted) room. If you subtract the reflected light the figures about double but the percentages remain the same.

You could change the distance +/- however the relative results would stay the same. Natural mode (275:1 vs. 258:1) Living Room mode (596:1 vs. 575:1) a smaller advantage but none the less a win to the TW3200.

Living Room mode

You can also factor out reflections from the cinema room which would increase the CR for both to a maximum around 600:1. The percentage difference in CR (TW3200 beating TW3600) is due to the maximum lumens reading, the minimums or black levels were the same and impressive.

The Dynamic mode was the only mode (1 of 4) in which the TW3600 rated higher than the TW3200. (780:1 vs. 680:1 on/off) and (817:1 vs. 704:1 checker board) seerms a fairly constant win to the TW-3600 regardless of using checker board or on/off (White/Black) measurements. If you subtract the reflected light the figures about double.

tested a TW3200 and TW3600

Do you have a Lounge or Cinema that has no reflective surfaces?

Have you painted your walls and ceilings black with black furniture?

If not you can see how this contrast ratio thing looks like marketing to us, especially in this example.

We even tested side-by-side at the same time.

This is not an official test but it was interesting to swap between projectors (full screen) then have half and half.

If the readings we're giving you seem a little low, especially when you read on the brochure:

25,000:1, 50,000:1, 1,000,000:1 CR or whatever other wacky number manufacturers think up please reflect on what Epson say in their research papers:-

".. Early LCD projectors were hard pressed to achieve average contrast ratios of 100:1! Today, it's not unusual to see average contrast ratios exceeding 400:1.."

contrast ratios exceeding 400:1

So what does it all mean?

They are both great projectors as they are 99.99% the same. There is some silver on the sides of the TW3600 if you like to draw attention to it on your white ceiling.

You would not dare put your life on which is which without a lux meter.

So how could it be that the "lesser" model could for all intents and purposes be better? We were not expecting this, we were expecting them to be the same as they have the same lamp and LCD engine etc.

Firstly the readings are so close we doubt you could tell which is which, possibly in a bright room the extra lumens in dynamic mode on the TW3600 may shine through so to speak but only just and you wouldn't be watching a movie with any dark scenes.

Our best guess is this anomaly came about because Epson wanted so badly to claim the TW3600 was in some way better that while adjusting the firmware to sex up the Dynamic CR they forgot about the most important modes mainly Cinema. For really bright rooms don't rely upon Dynamic mode rather get a LCD TV or a Daylight projection screen.

Note After all how do you project black?

-- End of update (1/11/2010) HCC the review continues on but really it's about contrast ratio or lack thereof.


Best TW3200-3600 prices click here

Note A moment of honesty (Native = RMS example)

CR results for the TW3200 and TW3600 would be more like this Epson brochure below before they decided only to show just the higher Full-On/Full-Off value. If you intend to use your projector to show a full white screen followed by a completely dark one in a non cinema dynamic mode then fine but you'd be better off with a spot light!

The Native number is the CR the panel can actually produce. The idea is not dissimilar to speakers which should all be rated in Watts RMS, not "Peak" or PMPO = Peak Music Power Output etc. Unless you also include the "Real" RMS wattage.

We're not saying that a dynamic iris and other goodies used to fudge the massive CR numbers can't up the contrast however if the enhancement is acting upon the complete image that's OK if it's very dark/bright and has no bright/dark objects.

This is why the checker board test is much more realistic. You're controlling the contrast of each and every pixel not the whole scene.

99% of the time the projector must display high/low at the same time, that's the nature of pictures, not on/off.

Epson brochure 
"Epson honest brochure"

If you have a totally dark room with NO light buy the most expensive projector you can afford after doing your research as it will most lightly be SLIGHTLY better on SOME movies. We 're not talking about buying TW3600 over the TW3200 as they are the same, rather a more expensive model again.

Note Don't take our word for it, Epson says:

Contrast: "..Wide grayscales also mean higher contrast ratios. Early LCD projectors were hard‐pressed to achieve average contrast ratios of 100:1! Today, it’s not unusual to see average contrast ratios exceeding 400:1 and ***Peak contrast ratios exceeding 200,000:1

**This measurement is based on sequential full white and full black fields using dynamic irising circuits.." -- 3LCD.com

Translation:

200,000:1 (CON-trast RATIO) is really 400:1 (Real world as per above test) which sound about right to us.

Note CON-trast ratio paradox

To quote Epsonwho can't have it both ways:-

"With this much light in a room, there is no difference between 500:1 and 10000:1 contrast ratio!”

1 lux

ausmedia.com.au have been saying this for years, see above image.

Note Epson also say

"..Many projector manufacturers tout the contrast ratio of their projectors and make all kinds of claims about how high contrast ratios are better.."

Below is their graph that proves just one candle light kills the CON-trast ratio.

From the worst offenders of contrast ratio claims. - HCC

Light vs CR

In the above graph (from 3LCD.com/Epson) the left column is max CR which shows to have more than 2,000:1 you would need a very dark room. A candle lit room limits the CR to about 250:1. Having reflective furniture or non black walls etc. in our opinion is at least equal to lighting a candle.

Note When will Epson have a 3D LCD projector?

Very soon if this review on Epson 3D projectors ausmedia.com.au is accurate.

Note EH TW3600 vs. lower price EH TW3200

Buy either, toss a coin or have a look at a Sanyo Z700/Z4000, job done.

You want more?

As Epson didn't really redesign a great projector(s) we didn't redesign our review much either, as soon as we find a major change we'll update this page but don't hold your breath.

"..Same as a TW3500 with more writing on the box.."

"..This projector is overkill if you have more 
than 1 candle of light in the room according to Epson.."

By the model number you'd think the TW3600 is better than the TW3500 but that's not really the really the case, unless you put all your eggs in the dynamic contrast ratio claim.

The TW3600 is between the TW3500 and TW4500 and it's priced as an mid level 1080P projector. None the less the EH TW3600 is a very powerful LCD 1080P projector that would be appreciated by most as great value. Let's not confuse the issue Epson can't make a bad projector and the TW3600 is another great model.

Reviewers often confuse you with meaningless technical jargon, just like the manufacturers try to do all the time.

You may note this review is very similar to our TW3500 review well the TW3600 is v-v-v-very similar to the TW3500. Note this trick has been done before, now we're simply seeing the same thing with the TW3600.

This is all you need. If you're loaded and have a dark theatre room by all means buy a more expensive projector but as we say over and over if you have any light in the room you're wasting your money.

Note Regardless it's all good

Unlike 1-Chip DLP projectors there is no spinning colour wheel in Epson 3LCD projectors to cause "rainbows" this is a consideration for some people that are sensitive to them.

There is no shortage of great projectors so your choice may come down to the Warranty, Purchase cost, LCD or DLP, Brightness or other features for your particular needs.

In nature you often come across the "law of cube" meaning to make something twice as fast/bright/loud/good you need more than twice the input (four x comes to mind).

Note That's really..

When we saw that Epson were claiming 18000:1 to 20:000:1 (depending on which press release you read) contrast ratio (CR) on the last model, the TW3500, we thought this is a more realistic range than CR claims made about other Epson projector models. So 25,000:1, 50:000:1 or whatever must be looked at in the bigger picture which is marketing.

The fact Epson change CR all the time means to us it's more a slogan than a measurement!

Unless you have no light at all in the room (have not seen it yet) this projector and indeed the last one is all you'll ever need. Take CR with a grain of salt, they all sex it up.

The eye can't see contrast of 36,000 or 50,000 to 1 in "The real world"but we can pick if the black is very black, easily.

Soon you'll see 1,000,000:1 projectors = LOL.

The real or native contrast ratio for all D7 based LCD projectors are 4000:1 actual NATIVE contrast ratio but in cinema mode it would be no more than 700:1 "real life" (Checkerboard) which is tons as Cinema film is maximum 1,000:1.

As we mention time and again any light in the room and it's all academic. You'd also need your walls painted matt black, your furniture black, sorry it just makes us mad, this style of BS marketing.

They all do it but Epson leads then others must make the same silly claims.

Similar to quoting Plasma CR with the main glass removed.

Note Colour Bits

The high end Epson models have 12 bits all the way currently called the Pro-UB. Epson have new 12 bit models and lucky for us they are the TW3200 and TW3600.


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Note Plasma, LCD TV, TV, TV..

What happened to home cinema? 42-50-60 inch that's still just TV. Big deal that they're flat.

With projectors like the TW3600 home cinema should be a must have for anybody wanting to overtake the Jonses, (why just keep up with them?) or indeed have a new way to spend "quality time" with the family.

The word is "Home Cinema is the new swimming pool" ..about time and a lot easier on the water storage.

You'll never see a great demo at a Plasma/LCD TV merchant, it's not in their interest to convert you to real home cinema, you'll be happy with your flat TV if they have any say.

Lights on!
Screen shot of the Epson TW2000 with DNP Screen
The TW3600 is slightly brighter again, or is it?


Note Pixels

Even up close you can hardly make out the pixel structure on the screen, from any sort of normal viewing distance it's impossible. The image is as smooth as silk just like the Sanyo 1080 model. You may have heard of the Panasonic "Smooth screen technology" you just don't need it the TW3600 is smooth enough without sacrificing sharpness.

Note C2fine is just fine with us

Epson 3LCD technology is also used under licence by Barco, Canon, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Infocus, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Sanyo, Sony, Toshiba, Viewsonic and many more..

The new TW-3600 LCD HTPS panels utilize Epson's C2 Fine technology. If any projector is 1080p, LCD and 12 bit it uses the new Epson D7 chips. As mentioned before the TW3600's colour processor is 12 bit.

With this new technology, the (Epson EMP TW3600) delivers superior black levels, vividly accurate colors and much higher degrees of contrast than previous-generation models. Additionally, by achieving brightness levels as high as 1,800 ANSI lumens, the TW3600 is even well-suited for rooms where ambient light can't always be eliminated.

Note this specification is a bit vague also we've see both 1,800 and 2,000 ANSI lumens quoted on the last model, in any case it's bright for a cinema model and using it for cinema you won't be needing 1,800 or 2,000 lumens as that is way too bright. The cinema modes are less bright so you can see the subtle colours and cut down on the fan noise too.

PS Visit our friends at AIM if you're looking to purchase in Australia.

Scrren shot zoom in..
Actual (as all here are..)

Note Out of the box

There is not much you need to do. You may like to have a fiddle with the lamp power and Iris on/off but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Size..
More case for your money..
TW3600 same as 3000, 3500 Dimensions are 45W x 13.5H x 35D cm note the Sanyo models are smaller.

Note Colour Modes

Dynamic is for emergency use only! Bright for sure, but say goodbye to the subtle colours. More useful for PC spreadsheets in a bright room.This is the mode used to produce the highest contrast ratio.

Living Room is what I'm using now, in the middle of the day.

Theatre to Black 2 them for the blackest blacks, darkest darks, nothing when there is really nothing!

x.v.Color

Larger colour range or gamut and you can see it. This is one they snuck in without much fanfare but it's a great option.

Sony Corporation sub brand name "x.v.Color", x.y.Colour is based on a color range standard with approximately twice that of conventional standards it was accepted and issued as an international standard by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in January 2006. Products which conform "xvYCC" will be able to faithfully reproduce natural object surface colors with contents that also conforms "xvYCC".

Note Screening review

We will test the Epson TW3600 and TW3200 looking for the overall impression which will be first rate, you won't see any difference on web images we didn't bother to do the screen shots again.

With Bly-ray content you'll soon find out the limitation is often not the projector it's your eyes plus the source material.

Shots below are TW2000 we will replace them as soon as Epson really change this model. You can't spot the difference on this sort of test, you need to take some measurements. Then it's all academic.

Demo

Changing modes..

Demo

Please remember our screen shots are taken with a digital camera and are not as impressive as reality.

Note Noise dB

TW3600 will be used in cinema mode where it hardly works up a sweat. The fan is very considerate in cinema modes. The larger case helps to keep noise down but there are quieter projectors.

High lamp mode causes the fan to speed up, on a hot night the level is very noticeable so there is the rub if you do need to use full lamp mode because you can't control the ambient light you will hear the difference.

Note HDMI 1.3

The latest version of the HDMI standard for resolutions up to 1920x1080 pixels. We noticed the EMP TW2000 did not need an in-line signal booster over 15m unlike every other model we've tested. The TW3600 should be the same. The higher the signal the more lightly you are to get noise over a long distance.

TW 3600 Specifications Subject to change without notice*

  • - TW3200 -
  • HD ready 1080p (Full HD) with true high-definition 1920 x 1080p resolution >> wide screen for HD Cinema at home
  • Superior image quality with Epson’s 3LCD technology (D7 panel)
  • High contrast ratio of 50  000:1 (Dynamic mode) - 25,000:1 -
  • Super-high brightness of 2000 Lumens - 1800 lumens-
  • Wide colour space and full 12 bit -10 bit - video processing
  • Wide connectivity (easy connection to DVD/Blu-ray player, digital TV Tuner, Set top box, games consoles, computers and digital cameras) with 2 x HDMI 1.3 inputs (true 1080p signal video processing)
  • Easy and flexible to install : convenient horizontal and vertical lens shift, ceiling mount possibility, wide range of projection distances, optical zoom x 2.1
  • Really quiet projection: 22 dB fan noise
  • Stylish and new white design
  • Warranty (AU) 2 years warranty on projector and 6 months lamp
    -TBA- (on both) * Our forecast only, this summary may be incorrect.

Demo

Note Conclusions

The 2,000 Lumens Epson EMP-TW-3600 is good value at the mid of the market. The TW-3200 with 1800 Lumens? is a slightly lower entry pointon paper only.

Both offer performance a few short years ago was reserved for the very rich. They use the same LCD engine and lamp.

You're getting a 1080 HD projector from Epson the makers of the LCD engine even some of the diehard DLP brands now use.

Epson want you to think the TW3600 is better than the TW3200 but in our test the opposite was true, not by a large enough margin to justify choosing one over the other.

Buy the one you like the looks of most or costs less :)

Note


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