Epson MovieMate 72 All-In-One Home Theater Projector Review: Overview and Physical Attributes
- Art Feierman
MovieMate 72 Projector Highlights:
- All-in-one projector with built-in (upscaling) DVD player, and 4 speakers
- The first hi-def all-in-one projector, with 720p native resolution
- Very portable, and good ergonomics, including lens shift
- Most expensive of the all-in-one projectors at $1199, and worth it
- Reasonably bright projector
- Supports external devices, with HDMI and computer inputs
- Works very well with Hi-def DVD players and HDTV sources
- Outputs digital audio, in case you set it up in a room where you have a surround sound audio system, or high quality stereo.
- Impressive, overall, picture quality
- Black level performance not up to that of stand alone home theater projectors, but should be acceptable to most, and is comparable to the other all-in-one projector competition (some slightly better, some worse)
OK, warning! This is going to be a glowing review. I was most impressed when I first saw the MovieMate 72 at CEDIA. Finally, an all-in-one projector that had the potential to perform comparably to the lower cost (HD 720p resolution) stand alone home theater projectors.
Sure enough, the Epson MovieMate 72 is a definite cut above any of the other all-in-one projectors I've reviewed. This Epson offers picture quality that is, at least comparable with many of the stand alone home theater projectors that compete with it in terms of price. The one exception is in contrast and black levels. Still, the MovieMate 72 is impressive for movie watching, and black levels, are less critical for watching TV, and notably, sports.
One of the things I like best about the MovieMate 72, is its versatility. Lens shift, zoom lens, of course, but also the ability to input HD sources, and a host of great features (and benefits) in terms of functionality as an all-in-one projector. For example it can be used as a CD (or iPod, etc.) music player without cutting into lamp life. More in the general performance section on many of the cool features of the MovieMate 72.
Home Cinema Projector: Basic Specs
Native Resolution: 720p HD (1280x720)
Brightness: 1200 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.5:1
Lens shift: Vertical (50%) and Horizontal (25%)
Lamp life: 3000 hours in Theater Black mode, all other modes; 2000 hours
Weight: 15.2 lbs. ( 6.8 Kg)
Warranty: 2 Years Parts and Labor standard (US)
Click here for more complete Epson MovieMate 72 specifications and brochure.
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Home Theater Projector: Physical Tour
OK, I always start at the front, but, with the Epson MovieMate 72's swivel top, first I need to define the "front". For purposes of this review, "front" will be the MovieMate 72 set up so that the DVD player is below the lens. Of course, if it works better in your room, you can have the DVD player in the "back", and inputs in the front.
This second image shows the alternate "back" with the DVD player now in the back, and inputs in the "front". For purposes of this section though, the "front" is the setup with the lens and the DVD player facing the same way.
From the front: On the top half there is the recessed zoom lens with 1.5:1 ratio zoom for good placement flexibility. The placement range for a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen allows the MovieMate 72 to be as close as 8.1 feet, or as far back as 12.2 feet.
Lens shift will be discussed in the General Performance section. The lens has a slide out lens cover to protect it while moving the projector.
Also on the front of the projector is an infra-red sensor for the remote control.
That takes us to the bottom half of the MovieMate 72.
In the center of the bottom of the projector is the DVD player, a single slot affair similar to those found on cars. Below it is a display screen, providing information on the DVD or CD in the player. The player's eject button is on the right side of the display screen. Note, Epson advises that the DVD player may not work correctly if you tilt the projector more than 15 degrees (a very reasonable amount). You can forget about shining the image on the ceiling.
Immediately to the left, along the bottom is a vertically mounted USB port, that allows flash drives and other USB devices to be quickly connected. The projector can run slideshows of photos, a very nice touch.
Directly above the USB port is a headphone jack. When engaged it mutes the speakers, allowing a user to enjoy great sound without disturbing others (as in late night).
Below the front are two non-adjustable feet. If you are using the projector in this configuration, and need to tilt the projector up, to get the image as high as you want, you can place the provided riser below the front of the projector. If you have reversed the head of the projector, (DVD player in the rear), then two adjustable feet are there to raise the front of the projector.
Moving to the top of the MovieMate 72, first is a recessed area behind the lens. Within, are the adjustments for focus and zoom. A sliding door can cover these controls, and when used, it also slides the lens cap in front of the lens for protection.
Two additional "wheels" allow you to adjust the vertical and horizontal lens shift.
Two indicator lights which indicate power, lamp, and error functions are on the left (looking from the rear). Near the back, on the left is the control panel for the MovieMate 72.
From left to right: Power Off/On (once for On, once for Off), next comes the Source button to select between the internal DVD/CD player and external sources. Next comes the controls for the internal player, with buttons for reverse/back, play/pause, stop, fast forward, skip (chapter). Next is a Break button - a very nice touch, which stops the movie, and lights up the screen so you aren't wandering around in the dark. Further to the right are the volume Up/Down controls, and lastly, Image Off/On (use this to listen to music without the lamp on).
Also on the top (back right) is the door for changing the projection lamp when needed.
On the side of the projector is a door for the air filter, to remove for cleaning or replacement.
That takes us to the "back" where all the inputs are.
Far left is the power receptacle. Next comes a service port, followed by an HDMI input for digital video and audio. Next comes a standard HD15 computer port which can be used to interface to a computer, or accept a component video input. Further to the right is the standard composite video and S-video inputs, and next to them stereo audio inputs (standard RCA jacks).
Finally there are two audio outputs, first is an RCA jack for hooking up an external subwoofer (which you'll need if you really want to shake the walls), and lastly (and most impressively, as far as I'm concerned), a fibre-optical Digital Audio output. This will allow you to output full 5.1 surround sound to an external audio system, should you have a nice one in one of the rooms you'll be using the projector. Away from the input area, on the right, is the rear infra-red sensor for the MovieMate 72's remote control As previously mentioned, the back has two screw thread adjustable rear feet.
OK, the MovieMate 72 has plenty of physical features, but now it's time to see how this MovieMate stacks up in terms of image quality.