MovieMate 72 Home Entertainment Projector System Review - Image Quality
Epson MovieMate 72 Home Theater Projector: Skin Tones
Whether you pop a disc into the onboard DVD player, or feed the MovieMate 72 from an external player (such as my Blu-ray disc playing Sony PS3), you'll find that the Epson produces very good skin tones. I'll start with a couple of standard DVDs from the internal player. The skin tones of Gandalf and Arwen, from Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, looked very good.
Here's another from Hitch:
And, of course, what family projector won't end up playing Spiderman 2, sooner or later? Here are two images from that movie:
Lastly on SD-DVD these two scenes from The Fifth Element:
Since I consider the MovieMate 72 a competitor to stand alone projectors, I spent a lot of time also viewing the MovieMate hooked up to my PS3 for watching Blu-ray discs. Now, some of you may scoff, as that seems contradictory to the MovieMate 72's primary purpose - a convenient all-in-one, that can be moved around - to spend a lot of time with Blu-ray discs, but I think it worth considering the performance. Afterall, with the lowest price hi-def DVD players now findable at $99 (and that will continue to drop over time), it's quite conceivable to also use the MovieMate in a family room where you might have a plasma or LCDTV and a decent surround sound system.
What I'm trying to say, is that as the world switches to hi-def dvd players, you'll be able to use one with your MovieMate, and appreciate the difference.
So, let's look at skin tones from some hi-def DVDs.
The image above is from a night scene from Aeon Flux. The one below, a day scene:
Below are a sequence of photos from Casino Royale. You'll note the markedly different coloration on Bond from each image. The first, is a scene in bright sunlight, the second, florescent lighting in an airport, and the last one, filtered daylight. In each case the Epson MovieMate produces very realistic skin tones.
Lastly, one more image from Casino Royale:
A last two scenes, this time from House of the Flying Daggers (also Blu-ray).
Skin Tones were really very good overall, definitely competitive with most stand alone projectors, and, better than most projectors' out-of-the-box performance.
Epson MovieMate 72 Projector: Black Levels and Shadow Detail
Nothing to write home about here, this is the most significant weakness of the MovieMate 72, when comparing it to most stand alone projectors. The ability to do a really dark "black" is beyond the MovieMate, still the black levels are acceptable, comparable to home theater projectors of three or four years ago. To put it in perspective, it is probably second best behind the Optoma DV-11 of the all-in-one projectors.
This just means that this projector isn't for the purists seeking an image excellent in all areas. Here are a few images that give you a rough idea. Without the really black "blacks", the projector lacks the depth and wow factor found in many stand alone projectors.
Yet, overall, it's not bad!
MovieMate 72 Shadow Details
Much better here, the MovieMate handles shadow details very well. It's one of those projectors that through gamma and other settings pulls out a lot of dark detail, despite the inability to produce the blackest blacks.
The first image, when you click on the thumbnail image, is a cropped and brightened lower right side of the scene. The Epson brings out details in and below the mountains, as well as in the buildings and in the front. It is also showing some subtle colors, that some projectors miss.
In the enlarged and overexposed version of the image below, you can see plenty of detail in the dark shed area on the right, and along the bottom. The MovieMate does very well.
From Space Cowboys, this image of Clint is in a very dark room only illuminated by a down facing table lamp. This is a good image, as you can see that the Epson (upper image) does reveal good details in the window blinds in the back. At the same time, the image is intentionally overexposed, but not greatly, yet the "blacks" are definitely not an extremely dark gray. Now, just for fun, the lower image is the same scene taken using the Sony VW60 projector, a $5000 projector, and one of the two best I've reviewed in black levels. You'll see easily the improvement in the black levels yet from a detail standpoint it almost seems the MovieMate shows more, but it is a bit more overexposed as well.
And, I had mentioned earlier how the lack of really dark blacks affects the depth and "pop" of the content. I think this gives you an idea of the difference between pretty good entry level, and top of the line.
From Aeon Flux, the table scene. Lots of deep shadows, look for the texture of the counter top, and the richness of the colors. You'll find this same image in almost every other review:
Here's the re-entry image from Space Cowboys. Click on the thumbnail image for an overexposed version, and look for the details on the right side. This image is found on most recent reviews:
The image below is another found on most reviews. This cropped image is very bright on the right and dark on the left. By overexposing my photo of the scene, I can get the camera to display the shadow details, that the projector shows naturally, but the camera, at a normal exposure, loses.
This next image is from Casino Royale and which I badly overexposed to reveal the details in the roof. Many projectors lose all detail in the roof, rendering it essentially invisible. The Epson does a very good job. For comparison the image below it is from the Sony VW60, the last review, and one of the best projectors on the market. (The Sony is the first projector I used this scene with, so it's the only one I have for comparison.) Sadly, the Sony image is less overexposed, but a close look shows that both have about the same level of detail.
Bottom line, the MovieMate 72 does an excellent job in terms of handling shadow details.
Epson MovieMate 72 Home Theater Projector: Sharpness
The MovieMate 72 is a nice, sharp projector. The two images shown here are to demonstrate the full capability of the projector. For that reason, I've selected two Blu-ray disc images. Obviously a standard DVD will not appear as sharp. This way you know that the sharpness is well beyond what a DVD can deliver. Later you'll also see photos from HDTV sources.
Our first image is a closeup of the thumbnail image showing the Blu-ray logo. The one on the left is the Epson, the one on the right, the best selling $1299 Panasonic PT-AX200U, which is also a 720p resolution LCD projector.
And, again, left is the Epson, center, the Panasonic PT-AX200U ($1299), and right, the Optoma HD70, a $999 stand alone DLP home theater projector.
Sharpness is just about what you would expect from a 720p home theater projector. No issues.
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Projector Overall Picture Quality
Certainly this is the best experience yet from any of the all-in-one projectors I have reviewed. It is the first to offer HD 720p resolution, and it provides very good color performance out of the box. As noted previously, while black levels are nothing to "write home about", shadow detail is very good.
First two images are from The Fifth Element, from SD-DVD.
From Lord of the Rings:
From Aeon Flux (Blu-ray):
From Casino Royale:
Not a perfectionist's projector but one that provides a viewing experience that most people should fully enjoy. When you combine that with the versatility, and price performance value, this projectors should get sucked off store shelves.
MovieMate 72 Viewing - HDTV
I spent a significant amount of time watching HDTV and SD-TV, including a good six hours of assorted sports viewing (mostly football). Other content included Discovery HD channel, Boston Legal and Leno (re-runs).
When positioning the MovieMate in my theater room, I placed it right behind the first seats, so a good 15 feet back. At that distance, the Epson, with its shorter throw zoom lens almost completely filled my 128" screen, and that was the smallest I could project from that far back. I don't really think this projector is ideal on a 125" plus screen, but it didn't do badly. The lumen measurements found in the next page confirm this. Still, the projector has plenty of power for a 110" screen in best mode, and it really cranks to fill my large screen, when in Dynamic mode, as you will see in some of the images.
Let's start with some general HDTV images:
Football looked really good on the MovieMate, I had a couple of friends over, and everyone was impressed, especially considering the price of the MovieMate 72.
All the HDTV images were shot mid-afternoon, with the shades all down, and light, as usual leaking in around the sides of the shades. In the image above of Jay Leno, you can see the amount of ambient light on the wall below the scren, and you can see its impact on the left side of the image. Remember, this is at almost the full 128" screen size. At 92" diagonal you need only about half the lumens to do as well in this room, so size - matters.
For the image above, as well as the other HDTV images, the MovieMate 72 was in the Living Room preset mode. In dynamic mode there is a substantial jump in brightness, as you will see below in a comparison of modes.
Moving to some concerts from MTV's M-HD channel, Jen from Sugarland, and Pete Townsend of The Who:
Picture Quality - Bottom Line:
Extremely impressive for an all-in-one projector, the Epson combines really good out-of-the-box image quality, in terms of colors, with plenty of lumens, and 720p native resolution, to provide a very good viewing experience at an extremely reasonable price.
MovieMate 72 Preset Modes - Relative Brightness
Below I photographed four of the five preset modes, using the same exposure, to show you how the brightness varies from Theater Dark mode (best) to Dynamic (brightest). Only missing is the game mode. The game mode is not available when using the internal DVD player, which makes sense. Obviously some of these will be dark, others brighter.
MovieMate 72 Theatre Black Mode:
MovieMate 72 Theatre Mode:
MovieMate 72 Living Room Mode:
MovieMate 72 Dynamic Mode:
As you can see, there's a pretty substantial difference between the modes in terms of brightness.
As a side note, I never did try playing a game from my PS3. Perhaps I'll do that tonight, and add some comments. No promises! I have two other projectors waiting for me to get to them.