Real cinema experience
The Epson EH-DM3 is an all-in-one that packs in a projector, DVD player with USB port and stereo speakers into one fairly compact and portable box. The EH-DM3 is an update to the previous EMP-D1 and EH-DM2 all-in-one projectors that were priced at around Rs 60k. Happily, Epson has bumped up all the specs and lowered the price to a shade under Rs 50k.
Clad in a smart black and grey, it has a fold out grab handle on the side that makes portability easy. The lens is protected by a sliding lens cover which is more convenient than the usual snap-on circular lens cover. All control buttons, even for the DVD player, are on top. This is convenient because if you lose or misplace the remote, all functions are still accessible.
It can generate a 60-inch image at a distance of 6 feet which doesn't classify as 'short throw', but is good anyway. And you can increase the image size upto 300 inches diagonally by moving the projector away from the screen. The automatic keystone adjustment takes the hassle out of setup; built in gyro sensors sense the incline of the projector and adjust the keystone to allow for a straight image. It also has an auto iris or automatic brightness adjustment feature, which detects ambient light levels and adjusts the picture accordingly. Clearly very user-friendly features, since many first-time projector owners do not know about or want to bother with adjusting keystone or brightness. It boasts of two 10W speakers within the enclosure. This is actually good, because the stereo speakers can produce enough sound to comfortably watch a movie or play games. The only issue is that the sounds 'location' is not near the screen where it should be.
When viewed from up close, the grid structure (pixel structure) is still visible, but disappears when you move back to the required distance. In certain scenes, you might spot the grid again, but only for a fleeting second. Brightness levels are way up on the DM3—so the black levels are way down. In dark scenes, you're most likely to see a lot of greys. We could counter this somewhat by reducing the brightness level substantially and adjusting the contrast and sharpness. Overall though, the image is pleasing for all sorts of moving displays.
There are some downsides though. There is no optical zoom, which seems to be a cost-saving omission. So, to adjust image size, you have to move the projector closer to the screen. If you're using it as a standalone device, you'll find yourself mostly playing back media using the USB port. It supports hard drives and flash media (FAT32 format only). One issue while playing media off the USB port is that the system can only display file names that are eight characters long. So almost every movie or MP3 file name will be truncated, and unless you're really well versed with what's on your drive, you will be struggling to decode the 8-character names.
Being an all-in-one projector, it can't be mounted upside down (While most projectors can be mounted upside down for ceiling mounting, a DVD player cannot work upside down, hence the limitation.) The DVD player is pretty conventional, but also efficient. It slot loads a DVD and starts playing almost immediately.
After a thorough evaluation, and about 30 hours of movies later, the verdict is clear. The DM3 is aimed at a more casual audience rather than a serious home theatre crowd. That also explains the focus on portability and the grab handle on the side. It may not be the ultimate in projection, and you will also get projectors with a higher native resolution at the same price in India. But the Epson DM3 offers unparalleled convenience and ease-of-use; think of it like being able to carry a big screen with you wherever you go. It's a great first projector.