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If you wanted to be charitable about Epson's EH-DM2 projector/DVD combi, you might say that it's a bit unlucky. For even though it's been resting in a corner of our office for a few weeks, fate has dictated that it finally makes its way onto our test benches only a week or so after Optoma's awesome value GameTime GT-7000 package. And unfortunately for Epson, the existence of the GT-7000 makes the EH-DM2 look really pretty pants.
Not that this is apparent from the outside, mind you. For although the DM2 certainly looks rather clumsy with its unusually high, chunky body, its glossy black finish is actually rather posh, and it's reassuringly robustly put together. The addition of a carry handle on the end is a nice touch too, given that this projector is aimed squarely at the casual crowd likely to keep it in a cupboard or take it around mates' houses from time to time.
You've got to admire, too, the subtle way the DVD slot has been integrated into the bottom of the fascia, and the firm grip this slot exerts on your discs when you slide them in.
Much less admirable is the DM2's connectivity. There's a PC port and a component video jack, but we failed to uncover a single HDMI input for easy connection of our PS3, Xbox 360, Sky HD and Blu-ray sources. Boo.
The component video port can take 720p and 1080i high definition, to be fair. But the fact that you only get this aging analogue HD option is effectively all the evidence you need to realise that the DM2 really isn't into high definition at all.
With a non-HD (though thankfully 16:9 ratio) native resolution of 854 x 480 sealing the HD-bashing deal, the DM2 is clearly intended to be something you just whip out during parties for watching DVDs or big sporting events on - probably projected onto a white wall rather than a proper screen.
That said, the DM2's USB port also raises the prospect of using the projector as a simple way of giving slide shows of your JPEG photos directly off a USB storage device. Now that's genuinely handy.
Setting the DM2 up, though, quickly returns us to a negative frame of mind because the DM2 sports no optical zoom whatsoever. You can zoom and shrink the image digitally within the 854 x 480 maximum resolution limit, but of course, in shrinking the image below its maximum size digitally rather than optically, you're reducing the actual resolution of the finished image, as it contains less pixels with every step down in size you make.
If you're lucky you might be able to just physically move the projector around your room until you find a spot where you can maximise its limited optical potential. But this certainly won't be possible in every living room scenario - especially when the DM2's excessive running noise is going to irritate anyone sitting next to it during one of those ‘projector parties' I was talking about earlier.
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