The Epson MovieMate 85HD is a portable, all-in-one home theater system, complete with a 720p high-definition projector, integrated DVD player, and built in speakers. All that’s missing is a wall or a sheet (or if you want to get fancy, a screen) to display the image on.
I reviewed the MovieMate 72 a few years ago and loved it. The 85HD improves on every aspect of the 72’s projector—more than double the brightness at 2,500 lumens; triple the contrast ratio from 1000:1 to 3000:1, and an increased bulb life from about 3000 hours to up to 5000 hours. Most impressive is the 85HD’s increased portability; at 9.3 pounds, the 85HD is nearly 6 pounds lighter than the 72, and also sports a convenient handle and soft carrying case.
Setting up the 85HD is easy. Plug in the removable power cord to the projector and the power outlet and turn on the 85HD. You can use the remote control or on-board controls and menus to adjust the color, brightness, volume, and input source. Move the lens cover slider to the right to expose the lens, and use the manual controls to adjust the size of the image and to focus.
To watch a DVD or listen to a CD, simply insert the disc into the slot-loading optical drive. There’s no Blu-ray support, unfortunately. You can, however, attach a Blu-ray player, game console, computer, or other source using the HDMI, component, composite, or VGA inputs. There are also 1/8-inch microphone inputs, a USB port for USB flash drives, and a coaxial audio out port for connecting to home theatre receivers. You can connect the 85HD to a Mac, but you’ll need to supply the appropriate cables, since Mini DisplayPort and DVI connections are not provided.
In addition to playing movie DVDs and music CDs, the 85HD can play MP3, WMA, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 files.
From a distance of three feet, the 86HD projects a 33-inch (diagonal) picture. From 30 feet, the picture measures 320 inches diagonal. To help position the picture, the 85HD has extendable feet in the front that can tilt the projector up. The projector has automatic keystone adjustment to make sure the image retains its rectangular shape. If the automatic adjustment fails, there are manual keystone adjustments available on the included remote control.
The 85HD has five preset color modes for use in brightly lit rooms, dimly lit rooms, completely dark rooms, or for fast motion games. The 85HD’s Blackboard mode adjusts the projector’s white point to show accurate colors on a green chalkboard. An automatic mode that selects the most appropriate option for your situation.
The 85HD performed well in a number of situations, from the back patio projecting onto a sheet, to a living room using a dedicated projection screen. The audio was clear and loud enough for outdoor use, but with two 10-watt speakers, the 85HD was not quite as full sounding as the older MovieMate 72 with four 5-watt speakers.
Macworld’s buying advice
The MovieMate 85HD has a lot to offer as a convenient, portable, all-in-one home entertainment media player. With its built-in DVD player, integrated speakers, and variety of connectors, this versatile projector can turn your backyard into an outdoor theater, or your living room into a movie-house.
[James Galbraith is Macworld’s lab director.]