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
$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.


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).


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.


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.


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.