The Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD Projector is going to appeal to a demographic that would have never of considered the purchase of a projector previous to it's existence. The reason for this is all to do with the iPhone, iPod and iPad functionality presented.
Firstly let's look at the exterior design of the projector. It's shape is rounded and symmetrical. The casing is all plastic and offers a nice rugged build. The top of the plastic casing has a mild gloss coat, that looks pleasant but also doesn't attract fingerprints. The lens is obviously located on the front, buttons on the top and the speakers are placed on the rear.
The MegaPlex MG-850HD is very light at just 8.6 pounds and it's compact, making it in turn very portable. A pull out handle located on the left allows for convenient moving from place to place. I can have the projector setup in my office during working hours and then move it to the living room in the evening and it's no trouble to do. And if you wanted to go traveling with this projector it wouldn't be too difficult. Those who lecture and present keynotes at various locations would find this useful as it's designed to be lugged around.
A huge skew of inputs are built in with HDMI, Component, S-Video, microphone in, USB and PC. My biggest complaint is that only one HDMI port has been included, if you were to use this in an HD home cinema setup you'd have to purchase an HDMI hub. What I did very much like was that all the inputs are hidden away under removable doors, so they aren't visible when they're not being used.
Speaking of home cinema setups the MG-850HD has ceiling mounting ability. This could also be taken advantage of in the classroom and work place but I'm not too sure how the iDevice functionality could be used when the projectors mounted?
The remote control included is long but very compact and is very straightforward to use too. All the basic functions like Play, Pause, skip forward and backwards, volume up and down are here, you can also turn the projector on and off. If you're in total darkness while watching something, a button positioned furthest to you can be used to trigger some of the most essential buttons to light up, the light emitted makes all the buttons visible in turn though.
But the input we are most interested in is the 30 pin dock connector for the iPhone, iPod and iPad, this is positioned on the back of the projector. Actually you can't see it at first glance and this is because it works on a pop out mechanism. So a push against it is required, another example of how Epson have designed this to be a compact product. Now one minor flaw with the docking process is that a case on either your iDevice will play an intermittent role with the pins or it won't connect at all. Not a huge deal but worth keeping note of. Also no AirPlay functionality has been made available, so you can't easily use your device while it was outputting.
When you dock an iDevice you are presented with a clean and very Apple like Operating System. It's easy to use, allows for access of all your music and video content stored on your device. Everything is categorised and is functioned via the remote of course but if you'd rather manually use the iDevice, you can. Some situations require you to stand up and use your iDevice to play content like YouTube videos. Either an aspect ratio of 4:3 or 16:9 can be outputted from an iDevice or any other device outputting.
It seems like nowadays everyone has an iDevice. So the ability for someone to come over to your home and be able to play their hub of content in a click onto the big screen is so convenient.
Boot time is around 60 seconds and the fan operation speed and therefore noise will be exceptionally loud but when it's fully booted the fan noise is unheard over the speakers. But when completely silent a hmmm sound can be heard.
So let's get onto the quality of the video projection. 2800 lumens of lighting is produced and eats any other projector I have used for brunch (does anyone get that joke). The 3LCD technology inbuilt is designed to deliver more accurate colours. It can project a picture of 320" inches and sadly I haven't yet been able to achieve that big of a image. The biggest I have been able to achieve is around 100" inches (with no depreciation in image quality) and that to me is ginormous, so 320” inches would be mild blowing. Video quality is exceptional, with vivid colour, deep and rich blacks, impeccable sharpness and brightness. The full potential of this output can only be experienced in a pitch black room, but a little influx of light (even daylight) doesn't create an unwatchable or a bad image. I have been watching Movies, TV Shows, YouTube videos and have really enjoyed doing so on an exceptionally large scale. Even up close the picture is sharp and clear. Movies especially come to life and look amazing in 720P HD, and after using the MG-850HD it has reminded me that the experience of watching movies on the big screen hasn't yet been beaten.
The ability to adjust the size of image, focusing and orientation are available. Plus mild automatic keystoning adjustments are made based on the positioning of the unit which you can further adjust to your liking.
Two ten watt speakers are built in along the back of the projector. I honestly didn't expect these to be any good, but they are absolutely brilliant. They're loud, have good amount of bass and have a mild surround sound result. I actually began to listen to music via my iTunes collection on my iDevices through the speakers, so in effect I was using it as a dock and it's more than capable.
One thing that is worth taking into consideration if you were to purchase this projector is it's life span. Most LCD TV's on the market are going to outlive this projector most other projectors available. The lamp will last for around 5000 hours of playback and of course you can replace it, if it does pack up. But on the flip side you can't buy a 320" inch TV for under $800/ £600.
Overall I am very impressed with the Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD projector. Projection quality is exceptional, sound quality is surprisingly good, the portability is great and the wide skew of inputs and outputs allow for a good amount of functionality. But the 30 pin dock connector takes an iDevice to the cinema in style and that's what I love the most.