Epson's latest home-entertainment projector range stretches in price from £600 all the way up to the best part of four grand, making it one of the most diverse ranges currently on offer. It's great to have so much choice, but it raises a few concerns over the capabilities of the TW2900, which at £1,200 sits on the lower branches of the Epson quality tree. Just what is it holding back for the higher-end models?
The TW2900 politely listens to your concerns -- and then laughs in your face. For a start, it gives you a heck of a lot of raw hardware for your money. In fact, its chunky, sprawling frame appears to be the same size as that of Epson's flagship TW5500 projector, hinting at far higher interior build quality than we'd usually expect to find for £1,200.
This bulk won't necessarily be easy to accommodate on a coffee table -- we'd say the TW2900 deserves to find a more permanent position in your room, maybe mounted on the ceiling.
It's also well connected for its price, with two HDMIs, an RS-232 port enabling it to be incorporated into home AV control systems, and even a 12V trigger you could use to automatically fire up a motorised projection screen.
We often find very affordable projectors a real pain to setup, but not the TW2900, chiefly thanks to its provision of impressively flexible vertical and horizontal optical shifting, accessed via two simple wheels on the projector's top side.
Further contributing to the TW2900's setup flexibility is an impressive 2.1x optical zoom, enabling the projector to work with a wide range of different room sizes and designs.
Efforts to fine-tune the TW2900's pictures uncover a few more unexpected touches of flexibility. There's a degree of colour management, for instance, via which you can alter the brightness, saturation and hue of all six of the primary colour elements, as well as the gain and offset values of the RGB elements.
There are also skin-tone adjustments, high and low lamp output levels, gamma adjustments, a white booster, and an automatic iris that can be set to continually adjust itself depending on the darkness of the scene being shown. You can even adjust the speed at which this automatic iris does its work -- a customising touch many high-end products don't even offer.
As if the TW2900 hadn't already done enough to justify its price in feature terms, it also claims a potent brightness of 1600 Lumens, and video processing courtesy of acclaimed third-party brand PixelWorks.
The first thing that strikes us about the TW2900's pictures is how good its motion handling is for a budget projector. Football players charge around the screen with minimal judder and impressive clarity, with none of the gentle fizzing noise that can usually be seen with rival DLP technology.
Its colours are good too, combining likeable subtlety when showing the differences in green of the pitch and the shadows and creases in player's shirts with mostly authentic tones.
The TW2900 does a presentable job of picking out detail in Full HD footage, and thanks to the PixelWorks engine, also makes standard-definition pictures look less messy than is usual with budget projectors.
It's able to deliver deeper, more detailed black colours than typical affordable LCD projectors too. And despite being capable of going bright enough to remain watchable in a little ambient light, it runs exceptionally quietly, especially in its low-lamp mode.
The TW2900 is, of course, not totally immune to its price. For while colours are natural, they're not as vibrant as those of higher-level projectors. Black levels are good, but there's a little more greyness hanging over dark scenes than you might see if you spent more. And finally, while HD pictures look detailed, they don't look quite as crisp as the best Full HD projectors around.
Despite its slight picture limitations, when considered against other projectors at its price level, the TW2900 is an unusually friendly, flexible projector that's also great fun to watch with films and footie alike.
Edited by Nick Hide