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Epson MovieMate 50 and MovieMate 72 All-In-One Home Cinema Projectors

By Art Feierman

All-in-one Home Theater projector systems are not new, in fact they have been around for about three years. It looks like this new generation, though may be the one that finally starts selling in the quantities previously predicted.

The Epson MovieMate 50 and 72, are Epson's third generation all-in-one projectors. From the press information released, it sounds like these new Epson projectors may offer a new level of audio quality. This is good, because previous systems have offered sound quality that has varied from decent, to downright poor.

MovieMate 72 All-In-One Home Theater Projector System

Of the two Epson's I'll start with the MovieMate 72, since it is definitely the more interesting of the two, and is the first all-in-one projector system to boast 720p resolution. Finally, a true HD portable, complete solution.

Here are the basics. Keep in mind, I haven't seen (or heard) either of the MovieMate projectors yet, but that should change in the next 24-48 hours.

The MovieMate 72 is priced with an "estimated selling price" of $1199, not bad at all, considering stand alone entry level home theater projectors with 720p resolution, have pretty much been priced at $899 to $999.

The MovieMate 72 offers an HDMI port for digital video and audio. For setup ease, it has a swivel base, for convenience (the DVD player is in the front, so you can quickly turn the projector around to change DVDs). A zoom lens is complemented by vertical lens shift for really easy placement. If the older MovieMate 30s (read review) is any indication, the MovieMate 72 will have tremendous range in its lens shift, allowing it to be placed well below the bottom of the screen on a low table.

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The MovieMate 72 is more than just a movie (DVD) player, it doubles a an audio system, with the ability to play CD's and MP3 files, and you can even hook up your iPod or other music player.

The built in DVD player automatically upscales standard 480p DVDs to full 720p for the best possible image.

Four 5 watt speakers handle the sound, with Dolby 5.1 and DTS support. The initial press release makes no mention of a subwoofer, but the previous models had an optional subwoofer, so I think it's safe to assume that the MovieMate 72 will have one as well.

I'm excited about the MovieMate 72, primarily for the move to 720p. I found the older units, with their 480p resolution to have a pixel structure that was pretty visible. Like 720p stand alone LCD projectors, the pixel structure and screen door effect should be a non-issue, unless you like to sit incredibly close.

MovieMate 50 All-In-One Home Entertainment Projector System

In case you noticed, and are curious, I decided to refer to the MovieMate 72 as a "Home Theater Projector System, and this MovieMate 50, as a "Home Entertainment Projector System. I did this because of the difference in resolution. Both projectors rely on 3LCD technology.

The MovieMate 50 has a very reasonable "estimated street price" (as Epson calls it, of $799. That probably means you will be paying $799 or less, from the moment they ship.


Click to enlarge. SO close

The MovieMate 50 is the smallest of the Epson all-in-ones, yet, and weighs in at 8.3 pounds. Not the lightest out there, but Epson tends to build projectors like tanks. Don't drop it on your floor, the floor just might lose.

This MovieMate is 480p resolution like its predecessors, the MovieMate 25 and Moviemate 30s. Since they are all LCD technology, a visible pixel structure tends to be the biggest weakness of the older units. Epson however, has a new generation of LCD panels, which I got to see a few months ago, that are supposed to have a less noticeable pixel structure, and I'm hoping that those panels are in the MovieMate 50.

For sound, the MovieMate 50 supports Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS, and simulates surround sound out of its pair of 8 watt speakers. Like with the MovieMate 72, an optional, compact, subwoofer is available.

Epson sees the MovieMate 50, not just as convenient, but portable. They've added a handle to the 50, and provide a soft carry case with these Home Cinema projectors.

That's about it for now. This article will be updated after I've seen/heard the MovieMate 72 and MovieMate 50 in action in the next day or two. At the latest, these updates should publish a couple of days after I get back from CEDIA.

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