This hybrid is thanks to a very bright lamp and a speaker that works directly over HDMI with no extra cabling. It's a radical change from the Home Cinema styling of other projectors and is small enough to carry around easily. Keen to emphasis this portability, Epson has even included a carry case.
Epson's Home Cinema range of video projectors is usually reasonably solid, but things are a little different here, as this model is a different proposition: it's half way between the worlds of professional projectors and those aimed at watching movies at home.
It's difficult not to be disappointed, because this compromise means that the zoom is less powerful than before and that the lens-shift feature has disappeared, which is something of a heavy loss.
To make up for it, Epson has included a loudspeaker--though it's best only used if you're absolutely desperate because it's not particularly powerful--an RCA audio output and an SD card reader alongside the more conventional collection of video inputs (HDMI, VGA, S Video and composite).
Another change is the remote control, which is not the usual model supplied with Epson's Home Cinema projectors, and it's lacking a lot of useful shortcuts and backlighting.
In Normal mode, it's very noisy (36 dB), but performance improves in Eco mode while still remaining above average (29 dB). As well as these noise levels, we also noticed a very light vibration, which was worse on the right of the equipment than on the left. On standby, it uses just 3.5 W, moving up 173 W in Eco mode and more than 200 W without any power saving features activated.
Designed to bridge the gap between Home Cinema and professional projectors, this model ends up mixing the strengths and weaknesses of both categories.
It has three principal good points: its brightness, its small form factor (for a 3 LCD model, at least) and its built-in speaker. These three factors mean you can pick it up and take it to a friend's house, plug it straight into their TV or games console and enjoy: it offers a ready to go solution that means you'll be watching the match or hacking down the zombies on the big screen in no time at all.
This portability has some natural downsides, though, with the brightness of the lamp completely ruining any hope getting a decent black. Washed out and very purple, black is sometimes over 1 cd/m²--far from ideal for watching your favorite DVDs. There are some other color problems too, including an orange tinge to red shades, that we couldn't manage to resolve.
The EH-TW420's final failing is that the LCD matrix is sometimes visible against some light backgrounds. We first noticed it on a scene that showed a cloudy sky, and it leads to annoying fine grid across the whole image that creates a lot of distortion.
In general, though, distortion is well-controlled and the projector is free of most other common defects.
- Very bright
- Built-in speaker
- Small for a projector of this type
- Portable--carry case included
- Perfect to
- Washed out balcks
- Noisy, even in Eco mode
- Sound tinny on built-in speaker
- Remote not backlit
Small, for a tri-LCD projector, bright, and with a speaker on board--all the arguments point to a portable device that will be a hit with anybody who wants to take their projector on the mood, whether for business or pleasure. But if it's true Home Cinema you're after, it's better to leave it behind.