Epson EH-TW3500

The Epson EH-TW3500 rewards the viewer with sumptuous, bright and highly involving images and is decidedly competitive at this price.


8.2
CNET Rating
6.6
User Rating

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With its background firmly entrenched in all things to do with printing, Epson is a company that knows a thing or several about reproducing images. It has subsequently applied this pixel reproducing know-how to front projection for quite some time now and lays claim to the world's first LCD video imaging projector launched back in 1989. Fast forward some 21 years and Epson has a multitude of models on offer, with this, the EH-TW3500, being its most affordable 1080p home theatre projector thus far.

Design and features

The EH-TW3500 is a big beastie and needs either a solid ceiling mount or a large coffee table to accommodate it. Once that's been taken care of, the '3500 offers a massive amount of 1080p home theatre projection for its sub-AU$3000 price tag. Shop around and you'll easily bag one for around two and a half grand.

Its projection system is based around Crystal Clear Fine's 3LCD technology, which uses three individual LCD panels as opposed to a single chip design. Said benefits are supposedly no more "Rainbow Effect" (colour break up) and higher Colour Light Output (CLO), a relatively new method of measuring colour in a similar vein as light output (ANSI lumens) is measured. As always, take such specs purely as a guideline, not gospel, as there are many ways companies come by these figures. The proof's always in the pudding, not on paper.

The specs impress — a contrast ratio of 36,000:1 with both CLO and normal brightness rated at 1800 lumens. These figures stack up compared to the competition at the price, but do they translate to fancy looking, bright and colourful pixels? Another figure to be aware of is the lamp life which is rated at 4000 hours (normal) and expect to pay around AU$500 for a genuine Epson replacement.

One of the beauties of this projector is its flexibility with positioning, thanks mainly to its x2.1 optical zoom and horizontal/vertical lens shift. Keystone correction is a thing of the past with these features and sure enough, it's a breeze to accurately fill the screen as we quickly found out. There's no need to adjust feet, or mess around with software settings, it's more a case of simply pointing and shooting with this Epson.

Finally, a decent remote accompanies the projector and its big backlit buttons are perfectly tactile in the darkest of rooms.

Performance

Set atop a coffee table, the Epson did not take long to get up and running. Taking a look in its set-up configuration we found it necessary to make a few amendments from the default norm before we were truly happy with the image quality. It's best to stick with Epson's "Natural" colour mode when calibrating the picture and we also found the "x.v.Color" mode the more natural-looking. Once you scratch the surface of the myriad of adjustments, it can get a bit daunting, so use a calibration DVD or Blu-ray to help, or best of all, allow a professional to calibrate the projector for you — it's well worth it.

We also played around with the Epson's auto iris setting (which incidentally doesn't apply in x.v.Color mode) and generally preferred the image quality with it in its "Normal" mode. To our eyes this served up the best blacks (deep and reasonably solid), and the darker CGI scenes of Terminator: Salvation looked impressively textured, rich and well-defined. Here too plenty of shadow detail retrieval was clearly evident and during the initial Skynet battle scenes, the Epson had no problem with contrast and dark tone levels. We did notice a little bit of edge blurring with rapid horizontal movement, but it was never distracting and you probably wouldn't even notice if you weren't looking for it.

The EH-TW3500 is sufficiently bright to handle some ambient room light and if you do want to use it in a less than dark room, switching the auto-iris to "High" or using "Dynamic" mode will help with these situations. Fan noise gets a bit louder when it's operated brighter, but even so it's hardly noticeable. In quieter operation the Epson's super-silent.

Flesh tones and the Epson's colour palette were also both well rendered. We loved the colour balance it achieved with HD content; it's got that ability to reproduce 1080p colours with real vibrancy — the BD of Casino Royale, for example, never once looked over-cooked or over-saturated as we've seen from less capable projectors. Colour tones here were natural and well balanced; close-ups of 007's rugged features looked realistic and suitably cool; never too warm or flat. Such scenes had plenty of visual punch — just what you'd expect from a decent LCD such as this.

It dishes up plenty of detail also, both from HD and SD content — we fed it some upconverted DVD and it still managed to look alive and dynamic, not to the same extent as with 1080p HD material, but impressively watchable nonetheless. It's perhaps too nice a projector for gaming, especially if you go the trouble of having it properly calibrated, but if little Johnny insists in plugging in a console, he'll be blown away playing on a screen this good.

Finally, the remote proved simple but effective and we never experienced any abnormalities while the Epson was projecting. Once set up and running, it should give you hour after hour of effortless projection.

Conclusion

For under AU$3000 the Epson is a lot of impressive HD projection for the money. It pays to calibrate things properly, which will reward the viewer with sumptuous, bright and highly involving images. At this price level, it's decidedly competitive.

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PaulE2 posted a comment   

Did ou find out the reaons for the purple line? mine has it too...

little_ninjai Facebook
10
Rating
 

little_ninjai posted a review   
Australia

Great projector but mine is the model up tw-4500 has higher contrast ratio. i use a 97inch screen of 1080p awsomeness. even in a bright room it looks good. just change to living room mode. When u want a movie at night use cinema mode. great for my ps3 for games and movies. hd tv also looks superb.

Olio
2
Rating
 

"Don,t buy epson projectors"

Olio posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Nice picture, quiet.

The Bad:Lamp life, customer service

My lamp exploded after 610 hours, Epson wouldn't replace it because it was outside of the warranty period. I had a Hitach cp-s317 and the lamp lasted 5,300 hours ( pity I dropped it). Unless you are prepared to buy a new lamp at $499-00 every year, forget this product.

ninkasi
9
Rating
 

ninkasi posted a review   

The Good:Pretty much everything...

The Bad:Projector is physically BIG

Bought this mid 2010 for under $2.5k - in my case I got a Sony Blu-ray player 'for free' rather than a lamp. They had advertised a Toshiba player, but obviously ran out. Anyhow, have mounted the unit on the ceiling and pointed it at a cheap screen. Fantastic quality image for the price. I know I could have perhaps got a better image with a DLP unit but in standard mode this thing is *exceptionally* quiet (compared to the units available at the time at around the same price). No issue with the lamp yet, but it *will* die eventually even though we don't use the projector all the time. Even if the lamp doesn't go to lamp heaven with a spectacular 'bang' but rather with a slow dimming death, replacing bulbs is simply part of the operating costs of these things. To that end I plan to get a spare off eBay (can get them for around the $200 mark - less if you are willing to go a bare bulb and install that into the caddy. Yes I know that quality might be questionable, but personally willing to take the gamble).

Anyhow, I definitely do not regret the purchase and yes I would recommend it (or its replacement). It is quiet, position is flexible, the image is really good at the defaults, watching a true full HD source [I recommend the Baraka blu-ray] can be jaw dropping good *once* you've taken the time to properly play with the settings.

I will say it's not for you if you don't like the physical size (in some rooms it is likely to dominate), or if it's a very bright environment (in which case you probably will want more lumens and also probably will be happy to sacrifice some noise to achieve that).

So a near perfect ten from me - not a perfect projector by any means, but certainly exceptional value for the money at the time. [Keep in mind that this was 2010 - in a few years for a fraction of this price you will probably be able to get super bright led/laser projectors the size of a shoebox that never need bulbs replacing... so perhaps I should have waited.... but then again, until that happens I've been enjoying movies in 1080p on a 3m screen rather than one measured in inches.... ;-) ]

 

Suzuki posted a comment   

Can someone tell me where Epson say 4000 hours lamp time. After 14 months of occasional use my bulb has exploded. Now Epson tell me that that is fair and to be expected and that they don't have a lamp life rating. 500 dollars a year to shell out I think is very unfair and i was not advised of this otherwise I wouldn't have purchased one. Could someone help me with this?
Thanks.

 

ninkasi posted a reply   

From 'projectorcentral.com' they say the following: "Just like any light bulb, projector bulbs have an expected operating time, called lamp life. This value is expressed in hours and represents the number of hours before the lamp is at half its original brightness.

The expected life of a lamp will vary based on the lamp technology and the projector; however, most projectors offer about 2000 hours. The lamp's success rate is based on a bell curve, so that a majority of (but not all) lamps will meet the lamp life hours specified. Some lamps will fail sooner and this is part of the acceptable operating range of the rating.

For projectors that are used under normal operating conditions (no more than three to five hours per day in a clean, relatively dust-free environment) the lamp will have the greatest likelihood of lasting through its entire rated lamp life."

Basically, Epson say a bulb should last around 4000 hours with typical use, but may last longer or shorter. Unfortunately it sounds like yours has died sooner - which could be due to a faulty lamp but may have been due to environmental factors, number of times it had been powered on/off, bad power, dust causing over heating, vibration, and/or a combination of those and other issues.

Me - if it's not dusty [check the air filter] or hot in the area where the projector is, and it isn't continually being flicked on/off, then I'd check the quality of the power [do you have any issues with replacing lights in the house regularly... do you notice the lights flickering or going bright/dim?]. If you have a power issue, then check that out. At worst you can put a good surge protector or - better - small UPS on the projector to protect it... or at least pull the power cable out of the wall after use. As for $500 lamps, you can get much cheaper OEM bulbs from eBay.

It's probably hard, but try not to let one blown lamp sour your experience with the projector unless you've had other issues with it - it's something that can (and eventually will) happen with any projector.

Cheers

 

Suzuki posted a comment   

Can someone tell me where Epson say 4000 hours lamp time. After 14 months of occasional use my bulb has exploded. Now Epson tell me that that is fair and to be expected and that they don't have a lamp life rating. 500 dollars a year to shell out I think is very unfair and i was not advised of this otherwise I wouldn't have purchased one. Could someone help me with this?
Thanks.

MB Rowville...
1
Rating
 

MB Rowville... posted a review   

The Good:Change It

The Bad:Epson Brand is Bad Luck

Dear Spud. I can understand your frustration. Go Buy a BENQ W1000 Projector. Had it for 8 months and its a brilliant 1080p value for money... No Problems and small & Light to. Never under estimate the cheaper brands.

spud
5
Rating
 

spud posted a review   

The tw3500 I have had 10 months.. a purple line came up at the bottom of the projector so i sent it away for repair which took 1 month...
The day i got it back I noticed a new problem..
the top of the picture was straight but at the bottom from the right corner it angled up missing 10degrees of picture.. I rang epson about the problem & Epson whispered under his breath "oh **** off"
All i stated was that i had not had the projector a year and now 2 problems have risen..

I refused to send it away again and Epson still refuses to replace it..
I am still in negotiations to get a refund or replacement..

I also discovered today that the 2 epson projectors on display at my loval joyce mayne have the same 2 issues
so its obviously not my projector its a common fault..

For service i am extremely unhappy for the $2500 i paid for it

But the projectors picture has been incredible

premacy2003
8
Rating
 

premacy2003 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Great image quality !

The Bad:Not so great during the day

I purchased this projector for a little over $2000. The picture quality is magnificent. This is true from a variety of sources both HD and SD. Easy to set up. A little disappointing is that almost 3 months after sending in for my Bonus Lamp from Epson, I am still waiting!EPSON lift up your game!


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User Reviews / Comments  Epson EH-TW3500

  • PaulE2

    PaulE2

    "Did ou find out the reaons for the purple line? mine has it too..."

  • little_ninjai

    little_ninjai

    Rating10

    "Great projector but mine is the model up tw-4500 has higher contrast ratio. i use a 97inch screen of 1080p awsomeness. even in a bright room it looks good. just change to living room mode. When u w..."

  • Olio

    Olio

    Rating2

    "My lamp exploded after 610 hours, Epson wouldn't replace it because it was outside of the warranty period. I had a Hitach cp-s317 and the lamp lasted 5,300 hours ( pity I dropped it). Unless you ar..."

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