Review: Epson EH-TW3800

 
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Published: March 5, 2009 11:00 PM
By Florent Alzieu
In terms of style, the EH-TW3800 marks a break with Epson’s previous Home-Cinema models tested here. The rounded shape of the EMP-TW2000 and the EMP-TW980 has been replaced with something much squarer. Style is not the only thing to change with this new series. The prefix name has also changed from EMP Epson Multimedia Projector to EH (Epson Home Cinema), as opposed to EB for Epson Business.

Handling, ergonomics

The EH-TW3800 has everything you need on a good video-projector. There’s a powerful zoom, with a lens-shift (very good on both vertical and horizontal axes, less so in diagonal), varied connectivity (HDMI, YUV, VGA etc.) and a backlit remote.

The remote has also been restyled to fit in with the change in projector shape. Energy consumption on stand-by is exemplary: 0.2 watts. This is one of the few models along with the Panasonic PT-AE3000E and the Optoma HD82 to score so well here. Noise levels when playing are a little higher than the best in the competition: we measured 26 dB whereas the Sony VPL-HW10 or the Mitsubishi HC6500 go as low as 24 dB.

There are no motorised components. Some models have motorised zoom, lens-shift or lens cover functions via command buttons. You don’t get that here. Is this a problem? Not really. These functions are of secondary importance. Except perhaps the lens cover that can be useful when the projector is placed high up. The last point to note is that Epson offers a plastic cable cover that can be screwed onto the back of the projector.

Projected image

For the tests, we compared the Epson EH-TW3800 to the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 and the Optoma HD82 that we had in the office at the same time as this model. You note the differences straight off. At 1800 lumens, Epson is going for a paticular segment. This is for users who can’t get complete darkness in their projection room. With such a powerful lamp, the image remains visible even when the room is not in complete darkness.

This isn’t a bad idea at all and makes this an all terrain projector. In practice however this does create a major problem: the depth of the blacks. Compared to the HD82 or the PLV-Z3000, the blacks are washed-out and tend strongly towards violet. On a more technical level, the upscaling is not as good as with the Optoma or Sanyo. The lines are not as well-defined, above all when watching from a distance. This isn’t a problem when watching a film from a player that can handle the upscaling itself (PS3 or classic), but it is much more so when watching non HD TV.

Even though this projector does offer very bright image, it does handle white differenciation well. We didn’t note any burning as you sometimes get with the Mitsubishi HC6500 and 5500. Management of video noise starts getting very good once you activate the option in the “signal” section of the advanced menu. Setting it to “1” improves things greatly. The results are however not as good as with the Sanyo that remains top dog on this.

Who should go for the EH-TW3800?

This model is not for you unless you can’t get complete darkness where you use your projector. The strength of the lamp will give a nice visible image even where there is some light in the room.
4/5 Epson EH-TW3800 DigitalVersus 2009-03-06 00:00:00

Pros

  • Bright lamp
  • Horizontal and vertical lens-shift
  • Cable cover supplied
  • Powerful zoom
  • Low stand-by energy consumption

Cons

  • Noisier than the competition
  • Poor diagonal lens-shift
  • Poor upscaling
  • Washed out blacks

Conclusion

The strength of the EH-TW3800’s lamp puts it in the very bright class. This is an advantage for those who can’t get total darkness in their projection room. The downside is the lack of depth in the blacks..

OUR SCORE 4/5
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