Name: EH-DM3 (Epson)
Type: LCD Projector
- Contrast Ratio: 3,000:1
- Brightness: 2,000 Lumens
- Resolution: 540p (960×540)
- Connectivity: HDMI input, component, composite, D-Sub PC input, USB, digital coaxial audio output, mic input
- Dimensions: 127mm H x 335mm W x 239mm D
- Features: Built-in DVD player, DivX playback and built-in 10W stereo speakers
Price: Circa £550
Epson’s latest EH-DM3 LCD projector aims to attract the casual home cinema enthusiast by boasting 300 inch images for an attractive £550. While its portability, in-built 10W speakers and DVD drive make it a fun and simple device to play around with, it is lacking in a few key areas that will bug your inner cinephile.
The EH-DM3 is a bit of a bruiser in the looks department. A boxy, glossy black affair, it’s plastered with logos, buttons and air vents on all sides. It’s by no means ugly, and its top-mounted buttons are actually rather welcome considering the likelihood of this portable kit regularly becoming separated from its backlit remote, but it certainly won’t win any style awards.
It does however offer ample room for connectivity options. Keeping in mind this could easily stand up as a one-stop DVD projection solution thanks to the built-in DVD drive and speakers, Epson generously include a HDMI port, component, composite, D-Sub PC input, USB for Jpegs and MP3s, digital coaxial audio output, and even mic input for any karaoke fiends out there.
However, don’t let that HDMI port fool you; this is not a HD projector. While HD compatible, all sources above 540p (960×540 pixels) will be downscaled. As a result HD sources look rather jagged, especially when the image is stretched to upwards of 100 inches, though those using this projector as purely a DVD player or with standard definition sources shouldn’t have too many complaints.
There are some other issues with the EH-DM3’s picture quality. Though the contrast ratio has been beefed-up from 1,200:1 to 3,000:1 since the EH-DM2 model, black levels remain washed out and lacking in clarity. Watching the opening space battle from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, I was hard pressed to pick up any detail at all on even the largest of craft on screen. Unusually enough, this becomes most apparent when using the projector at night time.
This is because the EH-DM3 performs exceptionally when viewed during the daytime. 2,000 Lumens of brightness paired with an iris that automatically adjusts to ambient lighting make the EH-DM3 very watchable in broad daylight. Colours seem more natural and images, by optical illusion or otherwise, seem sharper. Epson obviously spent a long time optimising this projector for daytime use, which I suppose is ideal if it’s aimed towards a casual market who need reasonably good results at all hours of the day.
The 10W stereo speakers are also surprisingly powerful. Though at times harsh, they are loud enough to even negate the jarring distraction of having the audio source come from a different direction than the picture you are viewing. Throw in DivX support and you’ve got a fairly robust portable player here.
In terms of picture-throw distances, you have a ratio of 1-1.35, which translates roughly to about a 100 inch image from a distance of 3 metres, which isn’t too bad at all. Annoyingly though, the EH-DM3 has little in the way of lens shift options, so if you’re having trouble lining the picture up with your white-washed walls or projector screen, you’re going to have to make do with either adjusting the EH-DM3’s retractable feet or have a stack of books handy.
How much you’ll get out of the EH-DM3 ultimately comes down to how willing you are to overlook some relatively big problems, considering its pocket-friendly £550 price tag. Daylight viewing is very good, night-time viewing not so. Also, the lack of lens shift options, while likely keeping the cost down a fair bit, would have been a welcome addition. Still, if you’re looking for a way to watch the footie on as big a screen as possible on a tight budget without being too fussy, the EH-DM3 is the projector for you.
By Gerald Lynch | February 10th, 2010