For those self-proclaimed movie buffs, there is always the lure of investing in a projection unit to really achieve the next best thing to a cinematic experience. In the past, setting up one such theatre system at home would be the equivalent of breaking the bank, but with the recently introduced EMP-TWD3 from Epson, projection home cinema has been made a whole lot easier than before.
Bulky is the first impression that popped into our mind when we first set eyes on the EMP-TWD3. This is because the unit is both a projector and a DVD player with built-in speakers. In fact, one might even mistake it as a white SFF PC. Upon closer inspection of the EMP-TWD3, you will find that its input (S-Video, Video, Audio Left and Right) and output (Subwoofer, Optical Audio-Out) connectors can all be concealed and shielded from the elements and for greater aesthetics as well. Located around the lens are buttons for zoom, focus, and lens shift functions. Display screen, DVD tray, headphone jack and built-in speakers are all conveniently located at the back of the unit.
Because of the location of the integrated DVD player, the EMP-TWD3 cannot be flushed against the wall for maximum throw. The good news however, is that the throw distance of the blocky projector is short; it only takes two meters to project an 80-inch picture. One shortcoming encountered with regards to projection was that the feet of the projector do not adjust for height. This means the front of the projector has to be manually raised to fit screens that are hung high. On a lighter note, the TWD3 comes with a large remote control with glow-in-the-dark buttons as well as four additional buttons for image adjustments, allowing users to have full control over DVD playback and projection quality even in the dark.
With only 1200 lumens of brightness and 1000:1 contrast ratio, the projection properties of the EMP-TWD3 are only average at best. Even the brightest Dynamic Color Mode is insufficient for use in a well lit room. Enjoying movie then is best done at night for optimum sharpness and color saturation. Pressing the visual adjust button will allow users to scroll between brightness, contrast, keystone, color saturation, tint, and sharpness in addition to the four color modes available. Considering there is no advanced color adjustment available, default Theater and Theater Black modes were found to be most ideal for DVD movies.
After a barrage of tests using the HQV Benchmark, we found the image processing performance of the EMP-TWD3 to be less than perfect as jaggies were still clearly visible in test patterns. In spite of this minor visual annoyance, one surprisingly commendable attribute of the EMP-TWD3 is its speakers. Normally, sound quality of speakers built into projectors is hardly worth mentioning but in the EMP-TWD3, the built-in speakers are exceptionally good and loud. For those who demand more however, there are several audio jacks for you to route audio to your home theatre system.
As a final note, the EMP-TWD3 is not a HD projector. Able to project only 480 lines means it’s a projector for standard definition (SD) content, making it a projector that is only suitable for existing crop of DVD movies and previous generation of consoles such as Playstation 2 and Xbox. Anyone looking to take a forward leap into HD movies will have to consider other options. Nevertheless, for what it’s worth, the Epson EMP-TWD3, with its integrated DVD player, is a good projector for DVD movies and general use but only when deployed in dark environments.