Lies. Damned lies. And projector specifications. For proof, look no further than the fact that the Epson EH-TW5900's claimed contrast ratio is poorer than its cheaper TW3200 sibling. Frankly, we're not sure why they bother.
In this particular example, part of the explanation is that we're talking dynamic contrast achieved thanks to ruses like dynamic irises, lamp modulation and image processing. Much more useful are measures of native or static contrast that give you an idea of what sorts of blacks and whites a projector is inherently capable of rendering.
Sadly, Epson doesn't see fit to furnish us with that data, so pointless dynamic numbers it is. But never mind, because we've actually looked at the thing running and can tell you what it's really like to use. And fortunately, it's pretty damn good.
Like the TW3200, it's a full 1080p LCD projector. You get vibrant, saturated colours and nice, clean whites. In fact, the TW5900 is noticeably superior to the TW3200 in every regard.
The colours are even lovelier and, critically, it closes the gap that little bit further to DLP models when it comes to the perennial LCD weak spots of black level and contrast. The TW5900 is capable of genuinely cinematic visuals. It also runs very quietly indeed.
Then there are the top notch optics. Not only does it maintain focus when adjusting the image size, it also has lens shift, allowing you to adjust the image vertically and horizontally, thankfully without resorting to those horrid, image-killing digital keystone settings. The only downside in this area is the slightly longer throw. You'll get a smaller image at a given distance compared to the TW3200. But it's easily worth the extra £100 or so over the TW3200.
It's a nicer unit all round. It's also worth noting the TW5900 throws stereoscopic 3D into the mix, though you'll need to shell out roughly £80 a pop for shutter glasses and we had problems getting it to run with Nvidia's 3D Vision platform. This projector is probably best viewed as a feature for use with 3D movies and broadcast HDTV.