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Epson EH-DM2 LCD Projector - Epson EH-DM2
More depressing news comes from the projector's onscreen menus, which are impoverished with a capital I. Really, the only video adjustments available to you are Living Room, Theatre and Dynamic presets, plus brightness, colour saturation, contrast, colour temp and sharpness adjustments - the sort of ultra-basic stuff that we don't usually even bother mentioning in normal projector reviews.
When I think back to the really extensive, genuinely useful video options offered by the only marginally more expensive Optoma GameTime GT-7000, it's enough to make me cry.
While the projector part of the DM2 is upsettingly short of flexibility, its DVD section is actually pretty well specified. For as well as standard DVD video discs it can play JPEG, MP3, WMA, DiVX and DiVX Ultra files from all DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW discs - including dual layer ones - as well as CDs, Video CDs and SVCDs.
Another feature that might catch you unawares if you haven't read our review of Epson's EMP-TWD10 projector/DVD combi is the fact that the DM2 has a built-in audio system with a pretty respectable maximum output of 8W.
Obviously on one level having sound built into the projector makes sense, for without it the whole concept of using an integrated DVD player would look severely flawed. After all, you wouldn't want to do away with the usual DVD-to-projector cabling only to have to replace it with projector-to-amplifier cabling, would you? Plus a portable projector that has to depend on there being a separate audio system wherever it gets set up is arguably not really a portable projector at all.
Furthermore, you can even use the DM2 as a sort of jukebox, thanks to its ability to play MP3 and WMA files from USB devices.
However, as I said in my review of the TWD10 a while back, the audio that DVD/projector combis produce is fundamentally flawed for the simple reason that it doesn't sound like it's connected to the pictures at all. The thing is, a projector inevitably has to sit some distance from your screen in order to produce a decent-sized image. Yet it's near-impossible not to be hideously distracted from what you're watching when the accompanying sound comes not from the vicinity of the image but rather from wherever in your room you've got the projector plonked. Even if you're lucky enough to be able to put the projector in front of you, in-line with the projected image, the sound still sounds severely dislocated.
It doesn't help, either, that 8W of audio - even though Epson has, to be fair, got more out of this power than you might expect - simply doesn't produce a soundstage that's anything like as large in scale as the projected image, leading to a distracting AV imbalance.
The Optoma GT-7000 we keep referring to uses an external speaker package, which while also rather underpowered can at least be positioned in the vicinity of the image.