Epson MG-850HD Projector - Image Quality
11-22-2011 - Mike Rollet
Epson MG-850HD Color & Picture Quality
I connected my laptop via HDMI to the MG-850HD so I could feed it its native resolution (1280 x 800). Using my usual color wheel and facial image display, the MG-850HD displayed a nicely defined image with solid color depth. As we’ve experienced with Epson’s multimedia projectors, the MG-850HD’s colors are quite good in Dynamic (the brightest) mode. This allows the user to watch videos, TV sports or even still photos for daytime viewing, without the result looking unnatural. If you want or need the most accurate color, Cinema mode (with the lamp set to Normal) is still very bright. Even in Eco lamp mode, Cinema is still brighter than the highest setting of most home theater projectors, while supplying better color and greater contrast.
Using Cinema mode, photographic images, particularly skin tones, look very natural. Colors are generally well saturated and deep. Outdoor photos display good realism, without any particular color oversaturation or deficiency.
Below, the Epson Megaplex MG-850HD projector in cinema, dynamic and living room modes, respectively.
Epson MG-850HD Projector: Readability
While the MG-850HD is not a business projector per se, it does have a “Business” color mode section and could easily be used in a conference room or boardroom. So, we decided to see how it resolves our usual text charts. Starting with its native resolution (1280 X 800), the MG-850HD produced very sharp text of any size with our usual spreadsheet. Small (8 pt.) black text-on white background was easily readable on a 75” diagonal projected image. White text-on-black and yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds as well.
The MG-850HD maintained its sharp image and good readability at different resolutions and aspect ratios as well. Switching to 1600 x 1200, the MG-850HD handled the text spreadsheet quite well, with only a one pixel ghosting on the smaller text sizes. Additionally, there was only minimal loss of sharpness in the text. At any usable text size, the MG-850HD was highly readable. It also did an excellent job on lower resolutions, like the old standard XGA (1024 x 768) resolution, with no noticeable fringing on any size text. Even moving up to 1920 X 1080, the MG-850HD was easily readable down to text as small as 12 pt.
The MG-850HD also displayed very little panel misalignment that could contribute a loss of sharpness, especially for a projector in this price range. Overall, the MG-850HD is sharp enough for business use with any text presentations.
Below, the Epson Megaplex MG-850HD projector in native resolution (1280x800).
Epson MG-850HD Projector: Video Performance
As the MG-850HD is targeted for home entertainment use, I connected my PS3 to it via HDMI to check the video performance. As noted in the Color and Picture Quality section, the MG-850HD displayed well-saturated colors and accurate skin tones. Using the auto iris with the Theater mode of the MG-850HD can improve the contrast ratio up to 3000:1. While a 3000:1 contrast ratio is nothing to rave about in a home theater projector, it’s not bad for a projector this bright. Using the auto iris and ECO lamp mode with Cinema reveals greater depth in the blacks and more detail in shadows. That’s not to say you’ll get black levels achievable by most home theater projectors, but overall, you get a more film-like image with the auto iris on.
The high brightness of the MG-850HD, even in Cinema mode, lends itself to viewing in less than ideal lighting conditions. This brightness provides for a highly watchable picture that is not washed out, as most home theater projectors would be. Watching a sports event during the daytime, with no attempt to darken the room by pulling shades down or closing blinds, colors were only slightly muted and a 100” diagonal image was still nicely detailed, even in the darker areas.
As the MG-850HD is meant to provide any room of the home with a large screen movie or TV experience, its built-in 10-watt stereo speakers will likely be sufficient. The four different audio modes do have a noticeable effect on the sound, but personally, I would stick with the Vocal mode for most viewing and the Movie mode for action films.