Epson MovieMate 85HD – A Review of An All-in-One Home Projector

Epson MovieMate 85HD vs. MovieMate 62

his is pretty straightforward. If you don’t mind spending the extra couple hundred dollars (suggested prices are $899 and $649) definitely go with the 85HD, for the better picture and resolution. Note that dealers normally sell these combo projectors for less than Epson does. This year, Epson put the 85HD in the same “box” as the MovieMate 62. This is a departure. Last time around, the MovieMate 60 also used the same “box”, but the MovieMate 72 had a fancier box, that swiveled the top from the bottom, etc… No doubt the decision was to keep costs down, and that’s fine. Both projectors have the same selection of inputs and connectors. With the two projectors sharing the same case, features are now more similar than before, but the main feature difference is resolution. It should also be noted that the 85HD also offers an optical zoom lens with a 1.2:1 zoom ratio. The lower cost MovieMate 62 has a fixed lens (but does offer some digital zoom – not as good, since it diminshes resolution).

The MovieMate 85HD is 720p – that’s standard HD, and higher res than a standard DVD player (by 225%). By comparison, the MovieMate 62 is 540p – which is essentially 1/4 the resolution of 1080p resolution. Translate all that, and the 85HD combo projector still has about 80% more resolution than the 62, which you will be able to take advantage of, when watching HD content like HDTV, or hooking up a Blu-ray player, or a computer capable of higher than standard DVD resolution.

The 85HD projector is also brighter – claiming 2500 lumens, compared to 2000.

Finally, both can karaoke, as they both have a microphone input.

Actually, the Mic, may also prove very handy to business people, and educators that have decided that the 85HD makes a good portable projector solution. For business use, however, the less pricey MovieMate 62, is a bit thin on resolution, for most business type presentations.

BTW I’m not aware of any other 720p combo projectors sold in the US. Optoma has made a number of combos over the years, but never that high a resolution. Currently, Optoma is not offering any combo projectors with built in DVD players, etc.

Epson MovieMate 85HD vs. Home Theater Projectors

You are considering the MovieMate 85HD. You looked at the MovieMate 62, and decided that, of the two, that the 85HD makes more sense for you, so you crossed the 62 off your list.

Fine, but what are your alternatives, should you decide not to go with an all-in-one combo MovieMate 85HD projector system.

The answer is complicated, you can choose from both stand alone 720p and 1080p projectors in the price range of the MovieMate 85HD.

Portability should be the first factor considered, after all, that’s what a MovieMate 85HD is designed for – easy portability, thanks to built in speakers (with respectable volume), built-in DVD player, and other goodies. That makes taking the MovieMate 85HD out back (or front) and shining it on a garage door, or wall, relatively simple to do, just add power, and a DVD and you are in “business” at least, for DVD content.

Or the MovieMate would be great moving from room to room, maybe from a kid’s bonus room, to the family room, when the whole family wants to watch… or tossing it in the car and taking all (less than) 10 pounds of it, on vacation.

Ease of use, and convenience are two primary strengths. What about performance?

First you can find 720p projectors out there from about $500 (including business “cross-over” projectors), and 1080p projectors from about $800, so both are in the range.

Note that many 720p home projectors in those ranges, are also bright models, though I can’t recall any that can beat the MovieMate 85HD in terms of measurements.

If performance is what you really care about, the MovieMate is going to hold its own in terms of sharpness and brightness with the 720p stand alones. However, some of those lower cost 1080p home projectors though not as bright, will have significantly better black performance (though that really is an “enthusiasts” performance feature). If you really care about picture, and have an extra couple hundred dollars, and also if easy portability isn’t crucial, then consider, you can buy a stand alone 1080p projector for $800 to $1000, offering more resolution, and at least slightly better blacks. Add to that $100 – $200 for a basic to decent surround sound system, and hey, skip the DVD player, and find a low cost Blu-ray player for say $79.

Do all that, and you sure won’t be easily portable, and you will have spent, probably an extra $200 to $400, but you will have better performance (and more sound).

Compared to 720p stand alones, the MovieMate is pretty attractive, since by the time you pick a 720p projector, add a sound system, and a Blu-ray player, you will have spent as much as for the MovieMate, but you won’t have a higher resolution image, and some of those 720p projectors also won’t do any better job on shadow details, and the MovieMate is still probably brighter than all but a couple.

Epson MovieMate 85HD vs. Business Projectors

Over the last few years, I have heard from a number of people who bought various Epson, or Optoma combo projectors, but with the intent of justifying them as a projector for business or classroom. That’s not a bad idea on several levels. For the entrepenuer, using it for business gets you a nice tax break, and for most small business people you should be able to write it off the first year. The question is, does the MovieMate 85HD make a good choice? Actually, the answer is yes, in many cases. The projector is reasonably portable – under 10 pounds with a decent sound system, and a built in DVD player, plus a pretty full input selection- HDMI, component video, composite, and computer. The MovieMate is, in reality, a WXGA projector with 1280×800 resolution (16:10 aspect ratio, and the same resolution as most widescreen laptops), despite Epson’s “focus” on it being 720p, which is actually slightly lower resolution (1280×720), due to the home entertainment nature of 720p, and the business nature of WXGA. That resolution means it is an excellent match to most computers, just like any other WXGA projector. With 2000 lumens, it’s also about the same brightness as most of the lower cost business and classroom projectors, although its claim of 2000 “color” lumens as well as 2000 ANSI, is their way of saying it should do noticeably better than many low cost business DLP’s which may match the white lumens, but not the rich saturated colors of the Epson. Bottom line: The Epson’s bright enough, it’s reasonably portable at under 10 pounds, and including a protective sleeve and a carry handle, only further enhances its portability. If you do, in particular, need the built in DVD player for presentations, or just in general, then the MovieMate becomes really easy to justify in that business and education world, at least when portability is a factor. The two year warranty is also longer than many under $1000 stand alone projectors have. Finally, its long life lamp will probably last up to twice as long as the lamps in many of those low cost projectors. And you get to take it home to watch a movie, or a basketball game, Discovery HD, or the Grammys. Not a bad deal. The MovieMate should provide at least as good color as those low cost business DLP projectors. Actually many of those DLP projectors lose up to half their brightness just going from brightest (with fairly poor color) to a theater type mode with decent color. On the other hand, some of them are actually decent in terms of color accuracy. Still, the MovieMate should do, at a minimum, at least as well as any of those low cost business DLP projectors, and LCD projectors, as well. A downside for the MovieMate is weight. There’s a wide selection of portable projectors out there, primarily between four and eight pounds, so that makes the MovieMate 85HD heavy at 9.5 pounds. No matter, it’s a convenient all-in-one solution that may do all you need. Consider, it’s brighter than huge 45 pound, auditorium projectors, of less than a decade ago

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