The Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD is a portable digital-dock projector and speaker combo, compatible with existing Apple devices using the 30-pin connector (but not the iPhone 5 which uses the new “Lightning port”). It also features HDMI and RCA connectors for input from other devices.
At first glance it is an unassuming device with a shiny black exterior and angular dimensions. Initially I was taken aback by the bland looks, especially when compared all the pretty devices you get these days when you fork out extra cash for Apple compatible hardware.
Where the Epson shines is in its performance. The 2,800 Lumens 3000:1 contrast projection at 720p resolution compares favourably in real world conditions to the powerful and expensive high-end home-theatre projector that we use in our main boardroom at work. The picture quality really is second to none.
It comes with connectors for HDMI and various RCA connections for your home-theatre system, as well as an iDevice dock. It supports the range of Apple devices using a 30-pin connector. iPads, iPods, and iPhones can simply slot into the built-in dock and then display their media through the projector.
I took it home and treated the kids with a showing of their favourite DVD’s projected on to our living room wall. The colours were bright, and the contrast was impressive. Even during the day we could watch our movies in comfort.
The iPod functionality works seamlessly as well. We plugged in an iPad 2, and the device was detected and a menu appeared that offered options for playing music, a picture slideshow, or videos.
For pictures you need to start the slide show on your device first before it displays on the projector, but from there you can interact with the remote that comes with the projector.
Besides the usual media projector fare some nice-to-have features include:
- A carrying handle;
- A horizontal keystone switch on the projector that allows you to place it at an angle to your wall and with a slider to adjust your picture on the fly;
- A coffee break button on the remote that projects a white screen on your wall instead of your movie;
- The ability to switch on a back light on your remote to operate it in the dark (one wonders why other mainstream device manufacturers do not include light up buttons on more devices these days).;
- The already mentioned 30-pin iDevice dock; and
- A decent quality set of on-board speakers.
A lack of extra cabling was a bit of a disappointment, but since this projector is aimed at people who want to plug in their iDevices, I cannot fault it too much on this point.
Docking an iPad presented a disappointing problem. The projector comes with an iPad bracket that can be attached to keep your iPad from falling off the dock. It attaches by means of an adhesive strip instead of clicking in place. This means that you cannot remove and re-use this bracket as needed, and that there is the very real possibility that this bracket will get damaged when you transport your projector.
Would I buy one? I actually seriously consider adding one to my December shopping list. The Epson is a good enough projector on it’s own that you can justify getting one, even if you do not have an Apple device. It is reasonably priced at R10,009.00 (RRP) and replacement lamps won’t break the bank at R2,278.86 every 4,000 to 5,000 hours of use.
The minor failings do not detract from a really nice device that punches above it’s weight with display quality and features.