Big-screen gaming, on a small-screen budgetI’ve been a vocal proponent for projectors for almost 15 years now, ever since I fired up my first 720p model hooked up to an Xbox, and was blown away by the true bigscreen experience. I’ve never gone back to gaming on a monitor since then, it’s that bloody good, with only VR tempting me away from its epic levels of immersion. Epson absolutely dominates the projector market here in Australia with over 50% of local sales, and its 9300 has been on our Beast page for quite some time. This month sees the arrival of its more affordable sibling, the TW5300. At a fraction of the cost, this is the perfect entry-level projector for gamers, and in some ways is even superior to its bigger bro.Like all Epson projectors, the 5300 uses 3LCD technology to pump out a vivid image. It’s not quite as good as DLP when it comes to rich colours, but it doesn’t have any of the weird rainbow effect problems of DLP projectors at this price point. It’s a full 1920 x 1080 model, as to be expected, with a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz. During my testing, I was very impressed by the brightness on offer – it’s quoted as 2200 Lumens, and it certainly lived up to those claims. This extra brightness really comes in handy when switching to 3D mode, as the LCD shutter glasses naturally block some of the light.
Epson claims a contrast ratio of 35,000:1, but note that it’s a dynamic ratio. This implies the use of a dynamic iris, which can lead to noticeable brightness shifting during scene-swaps. If there’s one flaw in this projector, it’s the contrast performance, yet it’s still phenomenal for a projector of this price. Comparing the 9300 to the 5300, it’s easy to see the drop in contrast performance, but for just over a grand the 5300 pumps out a very detailed picture. It passed all of the basic contrast tests with ease, and dark scenes in movies and games were endowed with plenty of detail.
One flaw with the more expensive 9300 is latency – when set to the fine image quality, input latency is over 100ms. Setting image quality to fast solves this, but introduces a much rougher image, to the point that small text can be a little hard to read. The 5300 has the exact same setting, but selecting the fast mode delivered a much clearer picture, making it the superior for gaming in some regards. There’s another minor flaw, in that the lens zoom isn’t very flexible. You’ll need to mount the projector relatively close to the screen to stop the outputted image from being too high – our original testing distance of around four metres was too far.
The final knockout punch for this projector is globe life. Epson claims it’ll last an insane 7,500 hours when run on Eco mode (which drops the brightness to 1500 Lumens, which still looks fantastic), or 4,000 hours at full brightness. That’s simply incredible; if bulbs are around the price point of other projector bulbs, the cost of running is a very low 5c per hour.
Make no bones about it, the 5300 smashed my expectations for a projector of this price. If I was tossing up whether to go with a 30 inch 4K monitor or this thing for my gaming and movie viewing, there’d simply be no competition – this projector delivers an eye-ball stretching experience that smaller screens simply can’t supply. BENNETT RINGJoining the projection revolution has never been as affordable as it is now, nor as good looking for this price..