Epson MovieMate 85HD WXGA 3LCD Projector
Projector Central Highly Recommended Award

Highly Recommended Award

Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.

  • Performance
  • 4.5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$849 MSRP Discontinued

The Epson MovieMate 85HD is the latest in the company's line of value priced home entertainment projectors. Listed at $899 with a native 1280 x 800 resolution, the 85HD displays 720p widescreen movies without compression, and it handles all sorts of other sources including audio discs, game consoles, USB memory sticks, computers, and HDMI devices such as Blu-Ray players. This is no lightweight projector at 9.3 pounds, but when you consider that it houses a DVD player, a 20-watt audio system, and a 2,500-lumen projector in one integrated package, it really is quite compact. Maybe the nicest benefit of all this integration is the absence of cables that usually connect those individual components. On the 85HD there is nothing to contend with but the power cord.

While not home theater quality, the 85HD does put up some nice video, and the audio impact is far better than most projectors its size. It is designed as an entertainment center, and whether you want to sing a bit of karaoke (there is a microphone jack), watch a movie, or look at your photo CD of Uncle Ralph's last mountain climbing adventure, the 85HD makes it easy to gather family and friends and get things cooking in short order. It can also serve as a music playback system when the video projector is not in use.

When the weather is nice, the backyard can become an impromptu outdoor movie theater. Throw a few blankets on the grass, tack a sheet to the side of the garage for a screen, and watch your favorite movie with friends and neighbors. The 85HD is a great addition to Epson's line, and it brings new versatility and performance to the all-in-one class of entertainment projectors.

Overview

Brightness: Three of the four preset modes (Dynamic, Game, and Living Room) all put up 2,580 ANSI lumens . . . plenty of light for all but the brightest rooms. Theater mode reduced brightness to 1,335 lumens which is more appropriate for movie viewing and color balance was improved. The Eco lamp setting lowers brightness by 30% in all modes and extends rated lamp life by 1,000 hours.

Uniformity: The 85HD's brightness uniformity of 87% is a little above average for this class of projector. There is a gradual increase in brightness from the top toward the bottom of the image, and there are no distracting hot spots.

Image quality: Thanks to an automatic iris that achieves a contrast ratio of 3,000:1, video images have good dynamic range. Colors are well saturated, and skin tones are natural. The preset modes have predictable tint biases with Dynamic and Living Room emphasizing green and Theater tending slightly toward red, but the factory settings are remarkably close to the optimum settings. In fact, a small reduction in contrast was all that was required to get a very acceptable image in all the preset modes. Dynamic and Game modes sacrifice some black level in exchange for light output, while Theater mode has adequate black levels and good shadow detail. There was a little noise in the video image, but it was not particularly distracting.

Data was displayed crisply and boldly, and small fonts were readable even with full keystone correction. On those occasions when you do use the 85HD for PC presentations, you will not be disappointed.

Compatibility: Most popular music and video formats are supported including MP3, WMA, JPEG, and DivX along with standard (not Blu-Ray) DVDs, but motion JPEG video is not compatible. The 85HD is also compatible with data formats from VGA to WXGA.

Resolution: The 85HD's native WXGA resolution is well suited to most video sources. Full HD 1080i compresses nicely, and 720p requires no compression at all. Even though the 85HD is not primarily a data projector, this is also a good format for displaying spreadsheets where a little more horizontal resolution puts up more information than a traditional 4:3 aspect ratio. The 1280 x 800 format matches the native resolution of many laptops, so a source like this will be displayed without compression or scaling.

Image Size and Position: The bottom of the 85HD's image is about 3" below the centerline of the projector lens for a 100" diagonal image. If you need raise the image, there are independent front feet extensions to tilt the 85HD upward and/or correct for any horizontal tilt. Keystone correction of ±30°can be automatic or manual.

Focus and Zoom: The concentric zoom and focus rings make sizing and focusing the image easy. The 1.2:1 zoom ratio gives you some flexibility in placing the 85HD for a specific image size. For example, the projector will put up a 100" diagonal image when located from 109" to 130" from the screen depending on the zoom setting.

There is also a "Zoom" button on the remote, but it has nothing to do with the zoom lens. It is actually an image pan and zoom (up to 400%) for certain media (e.g., DVDs and photo discs, but not computer inputs).

Advantages

Convenience: The 85HD is very easy to use. DVDs and music CDs begin to play shortly after insertion. Photos selected from the file menu start automatically in a slide show format, but you can pause and move forward or backward with a touch of a Chapter key on the remote. Track selection for music CDs or chapter selection for DVDs can be made via function keys or on the numeric portion of the remote control. All in all, the 85HD user interface is simple and intuitive.

Connections: This is the 85HD's strong suit. Standard DVDs (not Blu-Ray) and music CDs insert directly into the front slot, and chapter or track selection is made from the remote control. Game consoles (e.g., Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360), memory sticks, or iPods connect through a USB connector on the rear panel. Computers connect via a VGA connector, and cable/satellite TV and external video sources (e.g., Blu-Ray players) are accommodated by either component video RCA connectors or an HDMI port.

Kid Features: Parents will like the kid-protection features built into the 85HD. You can disable the power switch so that young eyes are protected from the bright light of an inadvertent power-up. To keep the lens cap from disappearing, Epson made it a sliding panel that cannot get lost or broken. DVDs can be password protected to keep junior from watching inappropriate material, and, except for the power cord, there are no cables to trip up the youngsters in the family. Adult supervision is always a good idea when children are around projectors, but the 85HD offers some extra kid-protection.

Speakers: Even if you are in your backyard where sound dissipates rapidly, the 10-watt speakers should provide more than enough sound to eliminate the need for external amplification, but an audio output is available if needed. The speakers in the 85HD are solid performers with no tinny or buzzy sound at moderate to high volume settings.

Warranty and Support: Epson offers a 2-year warranty on the 85HD and 90 days on the lamp, but it has a unique customer support feature. In the box with the projector is a card with Epson's PrivateLine® phone number that gets you directly to a human who can answer your questions. In these days of "please press 1 for English", it is refreshing to see such attention to customer satisfaction.

Preset Modes: The 85HD's preset modes are very close to optimal settings, so you can avoid fiddling with image adjustments when your audience is anxious to get started. There is even an Auto setting that can automatically change image brightness to compensate for the increasing or decreasing ambient light . . . a handy feature if you are outside and daylight is fading.

Fan Noise and Heat: Fan noise is modest with no high frequency components, and the heat exhaust from the front right side can barely be felt a foot away. So the 85HD can be used on a coffee table right in front of you without it causing a distraction.

Lamp Life: Lamp life is rated at a hefty 4,000 hours in normal power mode and 5,000 hours in Eco mode. That's enough lamp life to watch a two-hour movie every day for over five years. When the lamp starts to dim, replacements are available for about $200.

Limitations

Menu Buttons: The menus are easy to understand and have minimal layering, but be aware that the "Menu" button is not for accessing the picture controls menu . . . it's used to access DVD menus. You get to picture controls by entering the Visual Setup menu after choosing a Color Mode other than "Automatic" (i.e., one of the preset modes). Also, the "Zoom" button is limited to video sources . . . it does not apply to computer images.

Maintenance: Like most LCD projectors, the 85HD has an air filter as part of the light engine cooling system, and it will need attention periodically. Holding a small vacuum cleaner to the filter intake on the left side of the projector will remove any dirt that has accumulated. If the filter is damaged, it can be purchased from Epson for about $14 and replaced in less than 30 seconds.

No Remote Backlight. A backlight would make it easier to see the buttons on the remote control in a darkened room as would a little larger Visual Setup button, but other than these two limitations, it is one of the better remotes we've seen.

Conclusion

Got lots of old Kodak slides kicking around that you haven't seen for a while? Put them on a photo CD, clear off the coffee table, plug in the MovieMate 85HD, and you are ready for a fun evening. The 85HD is a fully loaded portable home entertainment system for movies, computers, photography slide shows, and music playback. The video quality is good, the speakers are robust, and it is easy to use. The image is bright enough for most ambient light conditions, and at a list price of $899, it represents an excellent value and earns our highest rating.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Epson MovieMate 85HD projector page.

Comments (8) Post a Comment
Chris in MD Posted Mar 21, 2011 6:37 PM PST
Can the Epson MovieMate 85HD be ceiling mounted? Does the menu have an option to "flip" the video image if the projector is mounted upside down?

I've looked at the Epson website and studied the PDFs manuals and brochures and can't seem to see any photos that show the bottom of the projector...wondering if there are 3 screw holes that will allow the projector to be mounted from the ceiling?
Mel Posted Apr 22, 2011 10:54 AM PST
This would actually be a high-volume item if it had a Blu-ray player instead of just a regular DVD player.
Chris Posted Apr 25, 2011 4:07 AM PST
There are no screw holes or mounting apparatus on the bottom side of the projector, I just bought one. In order to project from the ceiling, I'm making an adjustable bracket to mount on the ceiling joists. I asked the help desk prior to purchase, there is no capability to "flip" the image, only a +/- 30 degree horizontal image adjustment.
Tom Posted Apr 25, 2011 1:58 PM PST
Is there any difference between the 85HD and the Powerlite Presenter? Specs look identical and looks like the same just branding to different consumers. Local store sells both at the same price, but occasionally puts the Presenter on sale at $100 less. Main use will be for home and outdoor movies. Any comments would be appreciated.

Thanks Tom
michelle ford Posted Jul 27, 2011 12:23 PM PST
It is able to be flipped..just look through the menu..mess with all the buttons..u will find it. That's what we did. Just can't remember which button.
Ronald Aldrich Posted Sep 30, 2011 6:06 AM PST
we own a movie mate 70 the predecessor, this is the newer model of it. The 70 model has all the same features. We have had the 70 model for 4 years and we love it. Should this one ever break I will buy the newer 85 model. We our own bulb 3 now at about 140.00 each We use our projector 20 hours a day it hooked up to our derict tv service our bed room wall is 9 feet high and 20 feet wide, the max with of the picture is 18 feet wide and 9 feet high, u can reduce the picture down to about 4 feet high and 6 feet wide. You dont need a projector screen go to you paint store and order a color called silver screen, paint the wall you want to use and you are in business. Slick wall is better. The blub gets weaker after about 5000 hours we get about 10 ,000 hour out of the bulb before u have to replace it our about a year and a half of service. Take into our bedroom is painted dark, flat dark blue, incl ceiling, and back wall is painted all silver screen coler. 20.00 a gallon home depot our lowes its in their color codes, you have to tell them to look for it, it's not a normal seller. our is hooks to a laptop, playstaition 3, drectv, ipod, trendnet [plays internet tv] all switched tru a hdemi switch box it awasone and we love it. Every one who see's it in action is blown away.
DJ Assassin Posted Nov 5, 2012 5:08 PM PST
I bought one of the Movie Mate 85hd, and this has been the best investment I've ever bought. Yes the screen can flip in the Menu options. I did I before.... I was trying to mount it but there is no option that it came with that would allow it... So AMA have to just make a adjustable bracket hanging from the ceiling. This projector can connect to literally anything. Even from my iPhone, computer, USB flash drive, HBMI from my cable Box, DVD .... Wow... I even used an inverter in my mini van to operate with a portable screen.
Ken Posted Mar 17, 2016 11:57 AM PST
Yes, it does have "ceiling projection". When mounted to the ceiling bracket, the unit is upside-down. Unfortunately, it is not designed to mount upside down to a ceiling bracket, since it does not have any mounting holes to attach it. You would have to wrap it in straps or modify the 3 feet on the bottom. "Ceiling Projection" flips the image so that it looks right side up even though the projector is hanging upside-down from the ceiling. Unfortunately, when "ceiling projection" is selected, words are projected backwards. This would be fine for rear projection, but not when hung from the ceiling and projected onto a wall in front of you. I could not find a setting to correct the backwards image after selecting "ceiling projection". To select the "ceiling projection"mode, turn the unit ON, use either the remote control or the buttons on top of the unit, press the VISUAL SETUP button, highlight SIGNAL with the up/down arrow keys, press ENTER, use the up / down arrow keys to find CEILING PROJECTION, use the left / right arrow keys to highlight ON or OFF, press ENTER. The image will be flipped upside down and will read backwards, which is fine if you're set up for REAR SCREEN PROJECTION, but probably not why you bought this table-top unit.

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