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Epson MovieMate 72 projector

At a Glance
  • Epson MovieMate 72 projector

    Macworld Rating

The Epson MovieMate 72 is a high-definition, all-in-one projector that features a built-in DVD player as well as four integrated 5-watt speakers. And though you can use the MovieMate to project Keynote or PowerPoint presentations from your Mac, as the name implies, movies are this projector’s forte.

The MovieMate 72 is a black box, measuring about 13 inches wide, ten inches deep, and seven inches tall. It weighs just over 15 pounds. Although the MovieMate doesn’t have a DVI port for connecting to your Mac digitally, it does have VGA inputs, as well as HDMI, component, composite, and S-Video capabilities, and a USB port for viewing photos or listening to MP3 files stored on thumb drives.

The box is split horizontally into two sections, with all of the ports and the integrated speakers located in the bottom section; the projection portion is located in the larger, upper half. The two sections can line up seamlessly, if preferred, but the top section can also swivel 180 degrees from left to right. For situations when you can’t line the projector up directly in front of the screen, the MovieMate allows you to shift the lens to the right or left, as well as up and down by about 25 degrees, making the projector versatile in terms of placement. The MovieMate also includes a small plastic riser that fits under the front of the projector to angle the screen up even further, if necessary.

Unlike some projectors, the MovieMate does not include auto-focus or automatic keystone correction. Though these are nice features to have, the controls that are provided worked well for me. The MovieMate has a native resolution of 1,280 by 720 pixels, in a 16-by-9 widescreen aspect ratio. The projected image size can range from as little as 30 inches diagonally when the projector is placed 2.5 feet away from the screen, to as big as 150 diagonal inches when placed at a distance of 18 feet away.

The unit has an integrated DVD player that can play commercial or burned DVDs, as well as CDs and even MP3 CDs. And though the DVD player doesn’t play either Blu-Ray or HD DVD disks, it does up-convert standard definition DVDs to the 720p high-definition format during playback. The MovieMate has a rated brightness of 1,200 ANSI lumens, which is typical for home-theater projectors, but lower than most conference-room models.

The MovieMate’s four 5-watt stereo speakers support Dolby Virtual Speaker mode for simulated surround sound. There is a port for connecting a sub-woofer to the system for booming bass sounds. The projector also has an optical audio out port for connecting to external audio amplifiers and surround-sound systems. The MovieMate even has a headphone jack for private listening.

I watched several DVDs on the MovieMate, and I was impressed with the quality and brightness of the picture. The sound quality, whether playing DVD audio or MP3s from a thumb drive, was also quite impressive, with much more volume than necessary to fill a conference room. I hooked up the projector to my MacBook Pro, and despite the analog connection, I found text to be very legible when viewing Web pages, e-mail, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations, though a little more brightness would be nice for viewing these types of documents.

Jury Tests

Color fidelity Very Good
Text legibility Very Good

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

How we tested: We connected the display to a 2.66GHz Mac Pro with 1GB of RAM and an Nvidia 7300GT graphics card, running Mac OS X 10.4.10. A panel of Macworld editors viewed a number of on-screen test images, documents, and movies, and rated the projector as Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor on its color fidelity and text legibility compared to a sampling of similar projectors.—Testing by Jim Galbraith.

Specifications

Native resolution 1,280 x 720
Connections VGA, S-Video, composite, HDMI, component
Brightness 1,200 ANSI lumens
Dimensions (height x depth x width, in inches) 6.9 x 10.2 x 12.9
Special features Up-converting DVD player (720p); four 5-watt speakers with Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS; swivel base; USB port
Warranty 2 years

Macworld’s buying advice

The Epson MovieMate 72 is a cool, all-in-one, home-theater projector that features high-definition 720p resolution, high-quality integrated speakers, and a built-in up-converting DVD player. It can display just about anything from your Mac’s desktop, USB thumb drives, gaming consoles, TV receivers, and more. It can do much more than a TV or conference-room projector. The lamp could stand to be a little brighter, and some auto-focus and automatic keystone adjustment would be welcome additions, but even without these features, I want one.

[James Galbraith is Macworld’s lab director.]

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • 720p high-definition capable
    • USB port for displaying photos from a thumb drive
    • Very good audio quality from built-in speakers
    • Integrated, up-converting DVD player

    Cons

    • No automatic focus
    • No automatic keystone correction
    • No DVI port
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