It's that time again: the end-of-year rush to launch the best and brightest home theater projectors for the holiday cocooning season. Epson's casting its 2009 lot with the EH-TW5500 and EH-TW4400 3LCD projectors featuring Full HD (1920x1080) resolutions, a 1600 ANSI lumen brightness, and quiet 22dB operation. The TW4400 (aka, Home Cinema 8500UB as it will be known Stateside) touts a 130000:1 contrast while the TW5500 (aka, Pro Cinema 9500UB) ratchets the hyperbole up to 200000:1 -- that's about double the claim of Epson's previous high-enders that already featured excellent black performance. To be fair, Epson makes some of, if not the best, home theater projectors for the money thanks to its D7 C2Fine LCD panels manufactured in-house. Other specs include 12bit video processing, improved frame interpolation and 4-4 pull-down, x.v. color mode, 2.1x optical zoom with horizontal/vertical lens shift, and a range of inputs including 2x HDMI, YUV, and RGB.

We gave the TW5500 an eyes and ears-on here are IFA in Berlin in a finely-tuned home theater setup and came away extremely impressed with the image -- enough so that we'd be tempted to layout the €3,299 European asking price (€2,799 for the TW4400) come November if only we had the space to let this baby shine. But let's wait and see what the competition has in response when CEDIA kicks off later this week -- it's best to be informed and 3 grand ain't exactly chump change.

Read -- Press Release
Read -- Art Feierman's opinion