I’m not really a hi-fi enthusiast, but I do know the difference between 480i, 720p, 1080p, Blu-ray and HDTV, component and HDMI, et cetera. For the past few years I’ve mostly used a BenQ PE5120 480p widescreen movie projector as my primary video device, but as HD projectors have dropped in price I’ve been increasingly tempted to upgrade.
Over Christmas, I watched the first movie of the Star Wars series on DVD, and when you have to make the picture artificially bright to see any detail at all in dark scenes – so bright that you lose lots of detail in bright ones (think Kamino, for those who know Star Wars) – well, then it’s time to spend some money. Even if Star Wars is not released for Blu-ray yet.
I do have a Playstation 3, so all I needed to go HD was a decent projector. I didn’t want to spend a ton of cash, but I did want the full 1080p resolution. No point in half measures. Also, I have a small living room and poor placement options, so flexibility and low noise emissions matter a great deal to me.
After a few days of doing a bit of research, the Epson EH TW-2900 became the front runner among the projector candidates – I also read about Optoma and Sanyo projectors. Now having used the Epson for movies (Star Wars), HDTV nature bonanza (BBC’s splendid Planet Earth) and gaming (Rock Band 2) as well as watching TV online, I have to say I’m very happy. The projector is physically huge – especially compared with the old PE5120 – but it delivers on all my key criteria.
– Noise is low. It is at least as quiet as the older, lower-specced BenQ. Even though I have the projector underneath a table in front of the sofa, what little noise the projector makes has not bothered me at all. (I do run in “eco mode”.)
– Heat exhaust is forward and to the right. Very convenient when you’re sitting directly behind the projector.
– Screen size is good, even though there’s just 2,5 metres from the projector to the screen. (I use one of those fantastic IKEA projection screens. Ahem.)
– The picture is fabulous. Note that I’m no hifi expert, but to my eyes, the image quality is sterling.
– It has a high lumen output. Watching TV in a bright room works well, even without using the extra bright mode.
My conclusion: If you’re looking for a reasonably priced (I paid 11000 NOK) home projector with full 1080p and decent noise levels, you must consider this somewhat tank-shaped unit. I’m looking forward to many, many hours of movie watching on the Epson EH TW-2900 (not least Star Wars in HD, whenever that blessed day arrives!).