Epson Megaplex MG-850HD WXGA LCD Home Entertainment Projector Review
Epson MG-850HD Appearance
The MG-850HD sports an attractive black case that will be unobtrusive in a darkened room. Starting at the front of the projector, the MG-850HD’s lens is slightly right of the center of the projector when facing it. As is typical of Epson multimedia projectors, there is a manual, sliding lens cover, adjustable from the top of the projector, that protects the lens when not in use and also provides video and audio mute (A/V Mute) when the projector is in operation. The ability to mute both audio and video can also be accessed from the remote, allowing for display of a blue screen or alternate screen (such as company logo). A/V Mute is used to allow for a pause for questions during a presentation while helping to save lamp life. Right behind the A/V Mute lens cover switch are recessed, tabbed rings for adjusting lens zoom and focus. There is also a manual adjustment tab for keystone correction right behind the zoom and focus rings. To the right of the lens is an IR receiving eye. Height adjustment is obtained via a push button adjustable foot in the center front of the MG-850HD. Both rear corner feet are adjustable as well.
On top of the projector, right in line with the lens but at the rear of the projector, is a control panel with just a few controls. There are buttons for Power, Source Search and Volume Up/Down. In addition, there are indicators for power, lamp status, temperature (if overheating) and if the iPod dock is in use. There is also a light sensor that adjusts the color mode of the projector depending on the light level in the room (more about that in the Setup and Menu section). In the rear left corner is the cover for access to the lamp. Having the cover on top of the MG-850HD allows for easy access even if the projector is ceiling mounted. The screw to release the cover is on the top left side of the projector. Moving to the right (again facing the front) side of the projector, there is an air intake vent with filter, a Kensington lock port and an input panel covered by a plastic cover. The input panel has jacks for HDMI, composite and component video, stereo audio and a microphone. The air filter is removed from the bottom of the projector, which may be a problem if the projector is mounted close to the ceiling. Also on the right side is a folding handle which makes transporting the projector easy. On the left side of the projector are an air exhaust port and the power cord jack.
Moving to the rear panel, there is a second input panel on the top left side, covered by a rubber cover. This panel consists of a standard VGA computer input, a Type A USB connector for PC-free presentations and a Type B USB connector for connection to a computer to output video and audio over USB to the MG-850HD. There are also the 10-watt, built-in stereo speakers and a second IR receiving eye on the back panel. Right below the bottom of the back panel is the iPod dock. It is normally retracted into the bottom of the projector, but pushing on it releases it and allows it to pop out for use.
Epson MG-850HD Setup and Menus
The Epson Megaplex MG-850HD can be set up fairly quickly, mainly due to the ability to adjust both the front and rear height when table mounted. However, there is only a 1.2X zoom, so the projector’s distance from the screen has a small acceptable range. Also, unlike most projectors, the MG-850HD has a negative offset. This means that the bottom of the projected image is slightly below the center of the lens (instead of above it) when table mounted, so placement on a table that’s higher than the bottom of the screen is a must to avoid keystone correction. If you do need some keystone correction, the MG-850HD has both vertical and horizontal keystone adjustment. In a departure from most Epson projectors, horizontal keystone adjustment is manual, adjusted by a lever behind the zoom and focus rings. Vertical keystone correction is achieved via the on-screen menu and can be set for automatic adjustment as well. I have to say we miss Epson’s Quick Corner feature, a staple on most of their multimedia projectors. Quick Corner allows you to adjust each corner of the projected image independently, resulting in minimal effect on the displayed image. Without that feature, it’s best to keep any keystone adjustment on the MG-850HD to an absolute minimum.
Bringing up the menu, you’ll see the familiar, well organized, typical Epson menu. Select the Image menu and the Color Mode (Dynamic, Presentation, Photo etc.) that’s appropriate for your use. The MG-850HD also features an Auto color mode that uses a light sensor on top of the projector to select a color mode depending on the amount of ambient light in the room. Watching in the daytime? Auto will kick the projector into Dynamic. Watching in a darkened room? Auto will select the Cinema mode. This makes it easy for the non-technical users in the home to use the projector at any time of the day. If you do select one of the color modes, you can also make the usual adjustments for Contrast, Brightness, Color Saturation, Tint and Sharpness. Additional adjustments can also be made to Red, Breen and Blue intensity, as well as selecting other color temperatures and turning the auto iris (for increased contrast in darker scenes) on or off.
The MG-850HD has two built-in 10-watt stereo speakers, making it great for use in different rooms of the home, without the need for externally powered speakers. If greater sound level is required, it will have to be done from the connected video source, as the MG-850HD does not have any audio output jacks.
Epson Megaplex MG-850HD Remote Control
The MG-850HD’s remote bears little resemblance to other models in the Epson lineup. The remote is a slim, black unit with nicely laid out controls. There are buttons for Power, Source, Aspect ratio and Color mode. There’s a User button that can be set to control one of five different functions that might be missing from the remote, but often used. There is a button to transfer control from the remote to the iPod (for accessing photos etc. directly from the iPod). Then you have the usual menu access and navigation buttons right in the center of the remote. Finally, you have buttons to control playback (Play, Pause Fast Forward and Rewind) from the iPod and Volume Up/Down buttons for the built-in speaker system. Both the playback and volume buttons can be illuminated by pressing a backlight button on the bottom front of the remote, allowing the user to quickly access them in a dark room.
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