On the 14th of February this year I received quite the surprise… I was robbed. They stole my pretty 42” Plasma and since my insurance is, shall we say, non existant I am now forced to replace it and have been trying to save up the cash and make a decision on what to get.
Personally I have always been intrigued about having a projector instead of a TV but the wife was adamant that we weren’t having some faded picture instead of a real TV. Then as luck would have it I was offered the opportunity to review the Epson TW550 Gaming and Movie projector.
And with that I was soon sitting in my lounge with this beauty next to me.
For those of you who like the stats.. here we go:
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
EH-TW550 Projector, Power Cable, Remote Control + Batteries, Soft Carry Case, User’s Manual
Projection System RGB liquid crystal shutter projection system
LCD Panel 0.59-inch with MLA (D8)
Zoom 1-1.2 (Optical Zoom)
Screen Size 33″ to 318″ [0.9 to 9.0 m] (Zoom: Wide)
33″ to 317″ [1.08 to 10.8 m] (Zoom: Tele)
Keystone Correction Vertical: -30 to +30 degrees
Horizontal: -30 to +30 degrees (slide bar)
Projection Distance 60″ screen 1.68 – 2.02 m
Throw Ratio 1.30 (Zoom: Wide), 1.56 (Zoom: Tele)
Projection Lens F Number 1.58-1.72
Projection Lens Focal Length 16.9 mm-20.28 mm
Focus Method Manual
Colour Light Output 3,000 Lumens
White Light Output 3,000 Lumens
Native Aspect Ratio 16:10
Contrast Ratio 5,000:1
Lamp Type 200 W UHE (E-TORL)
Colour Video Processing Full-colour (16.77 million colours)
Input: Video 1 x RCA (Yellow), 1 x S-Video
Input: Computer 1 x D-sub 15-pin (RGB)
Input: Digital 1 x HDMI
Input: USB 1 x USB A, 1 x USB B
Input: Audio 1 x RCA (Red and White)
USB Plug ’n Play Yes
PC Free Photo, Movie (Motion JPEG)
3D Formats Top-and-Bottom, Side-by-Side, Frame Packaging
Internal Speakers 2W
Direct Power On Yes
Colour Modes 2D: Dynamic, Living room, Cinema, Game
3D: 3D Dynamic, 3D Cinema
Dimensions D x W x H 243 x 325 x 77 mm
Weight 2.7 kg
Lamp Warranty 1yr or 750 Hrs – whichever comes first*
Projector Warranty 2 Years
Power Consumption: Lamp on 289W
Power Consumption: Standby 0.40W
Noise Level 36 dB
And for the rest of us who only really care about the experience then let’s carry on.
My biggest worry with a projector was that I’d need a dark room to really make it work well and as my lounge has no door but rather an archway into the rest of the house and my curtains aren’t black, so I was a little worried.
I shouldn’t have been. The brightness of the projector is well beyond what I expected. You can quite easily watch TV with the curtains open or with the lights on at night. Granted it’s not as crystal clear with a well lit room but it still works well and that was a pleasant surprise.
But this projector really starts to shine when the sun goes down and you switch off the lights. I rented some HD TV series from iTunes and sat down for a night of glory. It’s hard to put into words the experience of having your own personal high definition cinema in your house. The 3 metre wide picture was crystal clear and gorgeous.
Grabbing a box of popcorn and snuggling up with the family made it feel like we had rented out a cinema and were living the life of the rich and famous. Unfortunately we noticed a problem pretty quickly though. the iPad has no optical out and neither does the projector which meant the sound was being played through the small speakers in the projector. They manage to do the job pretty well but it is definitely a weak point for this projector.
Next up I plugged the projector into my HD PVR and started watching some football games and Formula 1. Now the PVR does have an optical out and with that connected to my surround sound, cold beer in hand and the HD sport beaming onto the wall I felt I was in the stadium and experiencing the depression of yet another Liverpool loss with my extended family in the stadium.
I even got up of the couch and stood next to Gerrard on the pitch… but then I got in the way of the beam and everyone shouted at me.. but hey I’ve done something most Liverpool fans would give their left leg for.
I didn’t notice any ghosting or blurring on the screen even with the fast pace of Formula 1 or the ball being blasted into the back of the net. This is easily the best way to watch sports.
And yes do you really think I’d have a 3 metre screen and not play games?
First up I had to preview Gunslinger which is an on rails(ish) shooter set in the wild west. The huge HD screen looked awesome but it did take some time to get used to how far apart the bad guy on the left and right were, I literally had to move my head to keep focus of the people I was shooting at.
It’s not all good with the big screen though as small graphical issues become quite apparent when they are bigger than your head. But this was preview code so I moved onto old faithful, Black Ops 2, to see how that worked.
Best gaming experience ever… it’s as simple as that. You become immersed into the game so quickly and with a proper surround sound setup and a screen bigger than your standard vision it’s impossible not to thoroughly enjoy every part of the experience.
Granted you aren’t as good as you normally are if you sit closer and need to move your head to react but you can shrink the projection a bit, sit back and still dominate the opposition, unless the opposition is jimmytediblewyrm that is… he kills me every time and my kids think it’s hilarious.
Next up on the testing table was GRiD 2 which proved to be another great experience with the vistas and horizons of California and Paris looking incredible in blurring fast moving detail. But nothing was as spectacular as smashing into a wall at 250mph and zooming into full life sized slowmo to watch my death… ah destruction.
One of the big selling points of this projector is that it is fully capable of 3D movies and gaming. I don’t like 3D movies and gaming at all so I am not in a position to say whether it does it well or not. It doesn’t try force it on me though so for that I’m grateful
So why don’t we all have projectors?
Up to now it’s all sounded perfect but if they are that good then why doesn’t everyone have a projector?
Well two issues will stand in the way of a lot of people. The first being that if you don’t have a HD PVR you are projecting a standard definition picture onto a 3 metre screen and that looks awful. This isn’t a problem with the projector mind you but rather a problem with the picture you are beaming.
Not to mention a bad Netflix picture is all but unwatchable at that size.
The other problem is that you need a room big enough to justify a projector. My lounge is rather large and as such it makes for the perfect projector room. But if you can’t mount your projector at least 4 metres away from the wall the resulting size wouldn’t be much more than a large TV which by pure physics will always have a better end screen.
So if you have the room size and are mainly using it for HD then I can openly and honestly recommend this product. I cried big man tears when they took it away from me and I now have to save a little more to get myself one as I cannot imagine going back to a standard 42” TV after this.
The Epson TW550 has a RRP of R11 055 but if that is slightly high you may want to look at its little brother the Epson TW480 which apparently is the same just without the 3D capability for just over R8 000.
Thanks to Epson for providing the review unit and just remember that I’ll hate you forever for taking it away again.
Epson TW550 Gaming Projector was reviewed by Gavin Mannion