What is it?
Think of the biggest white wall you have in your home, or that of any friends or family. Now imagine that entire wall turned into a movie screen. This is precisely the role a high-definition data projector plays in a home or office.
With the FIFA World Cup 2022 well under way, football fans are scrambling for options for watching with friends or fellow fans. Big screen TVs that were good enough for regular games, don’t always cut it when there’s a crowd. Typically ranging from 50-inch to 65-inch, the average home display in a home entertainment system is dazzling when viewed straight on, but less so from an angle.
The Epson TW7100 projector, on the other hand, is a true crowd-pleaser. It promises a clear projection of a movie, video or live stream on a display up to 500-inches in diameter. That’s more than 12 metres diagonally, or the size of the front of a small double-storey house, so it’s unlikely that limit will be tested very often. However, it does give an indication of the quality one gets on large surfaces in any typical home or office.
The TW7100 is an LCD projector offering image resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, effectively 4K, but achieves this through what Epson calls 4K Enhancement technology. This means that it does not have true 4K built in, but uses pixel-shifting technology, which expands 1080p high-res display to produce a 4K image on screen. The significance of this is that one gets a 4K experience without the 4K cost.
Even more significantly, the image quality is sharp and bright even in a well-lit room, and that includes a room with extensive windows in daylight. In normal indoor light, the images are clear and well-defined, and text s sharp and easily readable. The brightness is rated at 3,000 lumens, which means it can display clear images even when a room is brightly lit. Don’t expect it to perform in direct sunshine, although Epson says 3,000 lumens are ideal for a wall-size display outdoors.
As with any decent projector, it includes automatic keystone correction, which detects and corrects distorted image when the device is projecting at an angle. That means the top and bottom of the image are parallel, as are the left and right side, as opposed to angles that distort the contents of the image,
Epson says the lamp will need to be replaced every few years, with intensive usage, but in Eco mode it promises 5,000 hours lamp life. That, apparently, is a movie a day for seven years.
Connections include two HDMI ports, 2 USB ports, an Ethernet port and 3.5mm audio output. It connected instantly and automatically to an FDMI port on a connector hub plugged into a Dell laptop running Windows 10. However, a MacBook Air had little interest in engaging with the projector without a dedicated VGA connector from Apple.
It provides Bluetooth audio connection to Bluetooth speakers and soundbars, to provide the full home entertainment experience, but also has its own on-board 10W stereo audio, useful in settings like boardrooms and offices.
The machine is relatively quiet, at a claimed 32 dB in normal mode and 24db in Eco mode. We can’t confirm that, but the fan operated unnoticed while streamed content was being viewed. It weighs almost 7kg, so while an optional ceiling mount is available, the option would not be recommended without a very sturdy ceiling. The device is described as portable but is heavy enough to demand a relatively permanent location.
Overall, it is one of the best 4K experiences on a projector in its price range, with multiple features that stand out, such as decent on-board audio and clear images under most lighting conditions.
What does it cost?
Retail price: R37,999 at outlets like Takealot.com and E-piphany.co.za
Why does it matter?
Projectors for streaming content are usually fairly expensive, and the more high-res, the more expensive, Especially when one gets to 4K resolution, or double high-resolution, the cost of projectors are prohibitive – as much as R100,000. The TW7100 uses 4K Enhancement technology, which simulates 4K, but at half the price.
What are the biggest negatives?
· It’s not for anyone on a tight budget.
· It does not have an app for fine-turning the controls, which require tedious manual navigation through menus via controls on top of the projector.
· It’s heavy, at almost 7kg, so don’t think of it as a portable device.
What are the biggest positives?
· Both on-board sound and Bluetooth audio to connect to soundbars.
· Clear picture in well-lit room.
· Less expensive than an 80-inch TV, but capable of far bigger screen size.
Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee