​Home Theatre review: 4K projector vs 4K TV?

Do you buy a UHD Epson EH-TW9300W projector or UHD Hisense ULED flat panel TV or Samsung curved TV or LG OLED TV?

Which is better, TV or Projector? (Picture: Mon Œil, Flickr)

Which is better, TV or Projector? (Picture: Mon Œil, Flickr)

We’ve tested most of the TVs on the market recently and were keen to see how an “affordable” Home Theatre projector compared in day to day usage. Would it really be a viable TV-alternative for a typical home? Or does it only operate optimally in a cinema environment?

At the launch, in a small Cinema, Epson’s $5000 EH-TW9300W (and lesser $2,649 TW6700) sure looked impressive. But it was completely dark and the room was larger than what most homes have. Nonetheless, we were told that the new range of “Enhanced 4K” projectors could beat TVs with their performance and would do so offering better value.

Epson's TW9300 Home Theatre projector.
Epson's TW9300 Home Theatre projector.

We were simply unable to test this projector in Theatre-like environment. The best we could manage was a dark room with a 3.5m throw and some light coming in through some high-up windows. This was roughly equivalent to a living room on an overcast afternoon with the curtains/blinds drawn. We were keen to see how it performed in these slightly-less-than-optimal conditions: because the alternative is having a full-on mansion type room that can be adjusted to be completely dark. And if you can afford somewhere like that, you probably won’t be looking at a mid-range Home Theatre "4K" projector but something substantially better – like a true 4K projector such as Sony’s VPL-VW520ES which costs three times more.

Image size

At a range of 3.5m we were able to produce an image that went from 7 inches to 125 inches. At 2.2m this dropped considerably to a range of 40-inches-to-70-inches. Epson provides a calculator for room to image size here so you can get a good idea what to expect in your room.

We found there was little difference in picture quality when using a projector screen or a white-washed wall, so we got rid of the screen.
We found there was little difference in picture quality when using a projector screen or a white-washed wall, so we got rid of the screen.

We can immediately see the value-potential for a projector when we plot the display size versus price in the current 4K TV market. As we saw lately, the price sweet spot for UHD TVs is 55-inches at which point the price heads north very quickly before sky-rocketing when they hit 70-inches. But if we add the EH-TW9300W to the mix with a image-size range of 70 inches to 125 inches, it becomes clear that the projector offers performance at a price that TVs can't match.

TV size versus price with Epson's "4K" projector added to the mix.
TV size versus price with Epson's "4K" projector added to the mix.

We chose this range as three and a half metres is quite a large length for an Aussie living room and most of those get very light. Image brightness can drop considerably as you get further away from your screen (or wall) and moving everything into a proper cinema room makes comparisons with a relatively-tiny TV display seem somewhat ridiculous.

Next: Image Quality

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Nick Ross

Nick Ross

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