Anyone who tuned into TrustedReviews right at the start of 2009 may well have found themselves spluttering into their black, 'it-sucks-being-back-at-work' coffees, as they spotted a projector earning just three out of 10 in one of my reviews. This remains to date the lowest mark I’ve ever dished out on this website.
The unfortunate recipient of this reviewing low-point was Epson’s EH-DM2: a cheap, all-in-one product offering built-in speakers, a built-in DVD player, and a carry handle to help with lugging it around to different rooms of your house - or even other people’s houses.
As you can probably guess from this description, the DM2 was designed very much with the ‘fun’ rather than serious cinephile market in mind. Which is fair enough in itself - there’s obviously a market out there for a projector that’s just wheeled out for parties, big sporting occasions, gaming (especially on the Wii) and the odd movie or two. Not everyone can afford or handle a permanent, high-end cinema installation.
The problem for the DM2 was that the compromises to picture quality it made in its quest to be your flexible, portable friend were just too extreme. A projector can be as portable or flexible as it likes, but if it doesn’t have a watchable picture as well, it’s pretty much pointless.
With the DM2 review in mind, I have to say I was quietly surprised when rather than having to chase the DM2‘s successor, the DM3, myself, Epson actually contacted me to see if I wanted to have a look at it. I can only hope that Epson’s confidence comes from a belief that the improvements it has made since the DM2 are strong enough to convert me to its all-in-one projector dream.
Aesthetically the DM3 doesn’t do much for me, with its regulation rectangular shape, chunky dimensions and rather busy finish. To some extent, though, I guess this is inevitable given that the DM3 has to cram an audio system and DVD player alongside its LCD projector. At least the glossy black finish gives it a touch of glamour, and a manual shutter is provided to cover the lens during transit. You get a tasteful padded carry bag with the projector to further aid its portability too. Plus, of course, the DM3 sports a sturdy carry handle, just like its predecessor.
The ‘busy’ look I mentioned a moment ago comes from three main points: logos, buttons and connections. Regarding the logos, the projector’s bodywork is awash with them, helpfully reminding you that the projector has: a DVD drive in it, an audio system built in, Dolby Digital and DTS decoding built in, HD compatibility, the potential to deliver an image between 30in and 300in across, and DivX playback. If like me you find all these logos more than a little ugly, then you’ll be relieved to learn that they can all be peeled off.
The buttons, of course, cannot be removed. But at least these are quite stylishly integrated, and I actually welcome the presence of so many. After all, with a casual projector like this, that’s going to be carted about from pillar to post, it’s very easy to mislay the remote control. So being able to do everything you really need to with the projector even if the remote isn’t to hand makes sense.