Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD
Home Entertainment Projector Review
October 11, 2011
iPod quirks. The difficulty with designing an iPod interface is simple: how do you take a device like an iPod and map its controls onto a more traditional remote? The MG-850 tries its best and mostly succeeds. An on-screen menu helps you navigate the iPod's hierarchical menu structure, and the remote control features a directional pad, play/stop/track skip buttons, and a button to take you up one level in the iPod's menu system. This works well when using the iPod Classic, though there are occasional quirks. For example, when starting a photo slideshow, after navigating to the photo folder the MG-850HD instructed me to start the slideshow from my iPod--literally get up off of the couch and go punch the button. And while the interface works well with the old-style iPod Classic, I have to wonder how well it will handle navigating the newer-style iOS devices, which are entirely touchscreen-based. If you plan on using this capability frequently, find a retailer with a generous return policy and try it out before you commit.
Black level. The one place where the MG-850HD really falls short as a movie projector is black level. Even with an auto iris, the MG-850HD's black level often came closer to deep gray than true black. While this is not unusual in inexpensive projectors, it remains the only substantive area where we were disappointed with the MG-850HD's performance.
Remote control backlight. The MG-850HD uses a slim, attractive remote control that is unique to the MegaPlex line. While the remote itself is easy to use when the lights are on, the backlight does not illuminate all of the buttons--only the play, pause, volume, and track skip buttons are illuminated. The buttons used to access the projector's menu, change the source, switch color modes, and change lamp power remain dark. It seems as if it would have been trivial to extend backlighting to all of the buttons instead of just a subset, so this is slightly disappointing.
Connection panel. The MG-850HD has plenty of video and data connections, but these connections are located all over the projector. On the rear panel are the iPod dock, VGA port, and two USB ports. On the right side panel are the HDMI, composite, and component video connections. On the right side, all by itself, sits the power cable. The end result is that you can end up with cables feeding out of the projector in every direction, creating a jumbled mess. However, as a portable projector, few people will use all of these connections simultaneously.