Epson MovieMate 85HD - A Review of An All-in-One Home Projector
February 2011 - Art Feierman
Epson MovieMate 85HD Projector Overview
The Epson MovieMate 85HD is not only Epson's latest all-in-one or combo projector, but, it seems that, at least here in the US, Epson is the only company offering these portable projectors with built in DVD players, and speakers...
Worth noting, there are now a couple of unusual new combo projectors - essentially portable audio sytems - that have built in pico projectors, but that's a whole different animal. In fact we plan a little shoot-out between the MovieMate 85D, and the new Optoma Neo-i - basically sort of a iPhone type speaker system with base, like the iHome, JBL, etc. but with a projector.
The MovieMate 85HD, first of all, is true HD - the 85HD is officially 720p or standard HDTV resolution (1080p is the highest HDTV), and that's still 2.25 times the resolution of a standard DVD player (like the one that's built in). Of course it has a nice set of inputs, so you can hook up additional devices. The HDMI input, for example can be used for a satellite or cable box, or a Blu-ray player... Let's make this clear right now. The MovieMate 85HD may look just fine with a standard DVD in its slot, but it sure will look significantly better if you feed it a Blu-ray player and good Blu-ray disc content.
The MovieMate also has audio - a fair amount - a pair of 10 watt speakers. An optional subwoofer can be added for those interested in shaking the walls a bit.
Mostly though, the MovieMate 85HD can be summarized as a cool, portable projection system that's ready to go. All you need to add is some electricity, a screen or fairly white wall, and something to watch!
It should be great device for the whole family, starting with the kids - to use in their play room, a bonus room, or perhaps the whole family wants to watch a sporting event or a movie, or maybe the head geek in the family wants to play some video games - on the really big screen!
How big? Plenty of power for my 140+ inch inflatable screen out back at night, should I choose to. Remember, this MovieMate is brighter than tradtional home theater projectors (about twice the lumens of an average home projector), in part because it has to be able to tackle varied challenging rooms and situations.
In reality, the 2500 lumens should be enough to do a decent job in many family rooms that can't be properly darkened. In the evening, of course just kill some lights, and enjoy. You definitely don't need a super dark room, especially for sports, though movies are always best in the dark. For perspective, the average home theater projector only does about 500 lumens in its best mode, and not much beyond 1000 lumens at its very brightest.
Below: HDTV - Modern Family:
The MovieMate 85HD comes with a soft padded neoprene (I think) "sleeve" that it fits into, and which wraps around the extendable handle when you are carrying the projector. It also has a remote control, with glow in the dark keys. The projector is reasonably portable - under 10 pounds. Not bad for something with a built in DVD player, and a couple of decent speakers, in addition to the projector itself.
Epson MovieMate 85HD Projector Highlights
- An all-in-one projector - just add electricity, and a DVD, and you are in business
- Good selection of inputs, including an HDMI for HD content, VGA input for a computer, component video and more
- Reasonable sound for movies, sports, plus a coaxial audio out, you can use to drive a typical powered subwoofer, if you really want to rock the house
- Audible noise on the high side, but not significantly noisier, than say the typical DLP home theater projector
- It's portable - room to room - take on vacation - use in the back yard for movie night
- Excellent warranty for this class of product - 2 years parts/labor
Specs for Epson MovieMate 85HD
MSRP: $899, Street price: Around $800
Native Resolution: 720p (1280x800 - technically it's WXGA)
Brightness: Manufacturer claim: 2500 lumens
Measured Brightness: 1132 "best mode": lumens, 2552 "brightest" lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.2:1 Manual zoom and focus
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: up to 5000 hours (we assume that's eco-mode)
Weight: 9.3 lbs. (4.2 Kg)
Warranty: 2 Year Parts and Labor, 90 day lamp
View full specifications: Epson MovieMate 85HD
Epson MovieMate 85HD Special Features
MovieMate 85HD Brightness
Although we will cover in greater detail in the Performance section, it's of importance to note the hefty 2500 lumens this all-in-one Epson can produce. Even in its "best" mode, it's as bright as many home theater projectors are in their "brightest".
Also worthy of notice is that this Epson is one of the few projectors that actually measured brighter than they claimed. That's doubly special since the lens wasn't on full wide angle (where manufacturers measure), but in this case, full telephoto, which definitely costs some lumens! The brightness of the MovieMate 85HD is one of its real strengths. It can "boldly go" into lighting situations that are just a bit too much for all but a few regular home theater projectors.
MovieMate 85HD Long Lamp Life
Epson claims up to 5000 hours for their lamp. They don't specify whether that's full power, or the lower eco-mode, but normally when there's one spec, and the manufacturer doesn't specify, we assume it's the longer life in eco-mode. We've seen, with different manufacturers, some 5000 hour lamps that only claim 2000 at full power, 3000 on others at full, but then, there's even Epson which on lamps for its 1080p home theater projectors, claims up to 4000 - in either mode.
The bottom line, though, is that it's going to likely be a longer life lamp than most projectors have, since "typical" is still 2000/3000 hours, though we're seeing more longer life projectors.
With a low cost of only $200.00 for a replacement lamp, and longer than typical life, operational costs should not be a concern. 5000 hours would be 20 hours a week, for 5 years! If at full power it drops all the way to 3000 hours, that would still be 3 years.
MovieMate: Standard DVD player On board
The MovieMate 85HD has a single load slot in the front, for its DVD player. It would have been really nice if the MovieMate 85HD had a Blu-ray player inside, but I fully understand the logic of sticking with a basic DVD player. After all, this is more of a portable, or family machine. It's fun, but it isn't designed for enthusiasts. While most people will think it does a really nice job, those of us really into projectors will recognize it as an entry level, 720p resolution, solution. As such, a standard DVD player probably better meets the budgetary needs of owners, who probably also appreciate that this MovieMate 85HD, would almost certainly cost at least $100 more if it had a Blu-ray player instead.
The good news are the component and HDMI inputs. Rock bottom pricing will find you a Blu-ray player for under $80, maybe under $70 these days. If you really want the step up in picture quality that Blu-ray delivers, you can have it, just as an outboard addition - one more thing to move around, when you are "portable". You may already have a Blu-ray player at home, let's say hooked up to your 40" LCDTV. No problem, when you are tired of focusing your eyes on that tiny, distant, 40" set, just plug the MovieMate into that Blu-ray player and temporarily watch a nice, decent sized image, in the 80 to 120+ inch diagonal range.
MovieMate 85HD Audio
As mentioned, the MovieMate 85HD, has a pair of 10 watt speakers. They are capable of achieving some respectable sound levels. I watched the Expendables last night (Blu-ray, fed to the MovieMate from my PS3), and the audio did get pretty loud. Not bad. Of course, once cranked up you do realize that there isn't much lower bass at all. Despair not, when you don't mind bringintg one, there are any number of small, powered sub-woofers you can buy, that you can use with this MovieMate projector.