Epson MovieMate 85HD - Review Summary
Time for a short summary of the Epson MovieMate 85HD projector's pros and cons.
2/15/2011 - Art Feierman
Epson MovieMate 85HD Projector - The Bottom Line
The MovieMate 85HD from Epson competes not with similar combo projector systems, but primarily with low cost stand alone projectors on one end, and on the other, a new breed of combo unit with a pico projector inside.
This MovieMate is a combo projector containing a bright projector, a standard DVD player, and a decent sound system.
The reason the 85HD doesn't compete with other all-in-one projectors is that there really aren't any others - at least in the US. Optoma it seems has given up. I haven't checked Radio Shack, but I can't think of any of the other major AV brands with one. As to those pico projector combos. They're smaller and lighter, but still a couple of pounds. The MovieMate is simply over fifty times brighter. Enough said!
The very closest competition is from the lower cost MovieMate 62 which we discuss in the competitor's page. It saves you $200 - $300 but you get a lower resolution projector, and one that's not quite as bright, although it too has substantial brightness.
When it comes to stand-alone projectors, you can certainly cobble together something for the same kind of dollars as the MovieMate 85HD, which seems to currently (2/11) sell from in the $700's up to $899 at the Epson store.
The thing is; the MovieMate is about being a portable, probably fairly rugged, projection solution that can be moved from room to room in seconds, and just as easily (if not as fast) to a friend's house, or on vacation. Set it up in the back yard, or shine it on your garage door. It's mobile, and that means if you are willing to tote all 9.5 pounds with you, there's lots of fun possible. Dragging separate projector, player and audio around isn't my idea of portable.
The MovieMate 85HD is a portable movie system, and if you provide a feed you can use it for cable or satellite. It's also your music box. And of course, let's not forget, using the MovieMate for gaming, or viewing photos. I must say, I was a bit disappointed that there isn't an SD card slot. That would have been handy. Still, there's USB.
Of course you can hook it up to iPhones and iPads and Androids, also via the USB.
The 85HD nicely offers a projector off feature so you don't use the lamp (and the extra electricity) when you just want to listen to your CDs. There's also an audio mute.
The Very Bottom Line on the MovieMate 85HD projector:
This is a great family entertainment system. The 85HD may not be a home theater enthusiast's dream when it comes to picture, but most folks will be dazzled by a combination of good color and tons of brightness. Probably 2/3 of the home projectors I review are less than half as bright, and none, really, any brighter.
The MovieMate can cope with some decent amounts of ambient light, for sports and HDTV viewing, even on a moderately large screen, such as a 110 diagonal!.
The 10 watt speakers with Dolby Digital, and DTS surround sound, do an impressive sound for this type of product, although there's nothing resembling wall shaking bass. I like that it has a coaxial digital audio output, which can feed a powered sub-woofer, or feed into an AV receiver. If you want some real bass, small sub-woofers can be had, no doubt, from under $100.
For some owners, the MovieMate 85HD will do double duty. It's handy for that occasional presentation, and does a good job with similar resolution and brightness to traditional business projectors costing around the same amount. You get a built in DVD player to boot.
Seems to me, that the MovieMate 85HD is a competent home entertainment system. It's well equipped, it works with all kinds of sources in addition to its internal DVD players. The 85HD seems reasonably priced, when considered against stand-alone projectors. For all that, and a bright, dynamic looking picture, we give the MovieMate 85HD a Hot Product Award.
Epson MovieMate 85HD Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Epson MovieMate 85HD Projector: Pros
- Very bright picture, measured even higher than Epson's 2500 lumen claim
- Good color
- Built in DVD/CD/MP3/etc. player
- Wide range of inputs, including HDMI and computer
- Most useful: Movies, Sports, Games, PCs, iPads, iPhones Androids...
- 10 watt speakers with Dolby Digital, and DTS surround sound, plus digital output for external subwoofer or audio system
- 720p resolution HD
- Headphone jack
- Long lamp life (up to 5000 hours), for low cost of operation
- Nicely portable at 9.3 pounds
- Easy to setup and use, and a fold out carry handle! Pretty good documentation
- Definitely reasonably priced for all that it provides
- Excellent 2 year warranty, optional replacement program
Epson MovieMate 85HD Projector: Cons
- Could have blacker blacks
- Should have an SD card slot
- Has standard DVD player instead of a Blu-ray player
- Remote control not backlit
- Limited image controls
- Audio system (which does have good volume) could stand to be even better
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