Epson EH-DM3 LCD Projector Review - Epson EH-DM3 Review


Finally getting round to setting the DM3 up reveals that sadly – if not entirely surprisingly for its money – it doesn’t sport either vertical/horizontal image shifting or, worse, any optical zoom whatsoever. There’s a limited amount of digital zoom, but we’d never recommend that you use this, given the potential it has for spoiling the quality of the image.

This means that your image size depends totally on where you can place the projector in relation to your wall or screen (though the lens is, thankfully, a very short-throw affair). Getting the sides of the image straight, meanwhile, thus sadly depends on the digital distortions of a provided keystone system.

The DM3 is also remarkably understocked with picture adjustments. All you’ve got is the option to choose from a selection of thematic (Theater, Dynamic, Living Room) ‘Colour modes’, and the facility to tweak brightness, colour saturation, contrast, tint, sharpness, colour temperature and whether you want the projector to use its auto iris system or not.

In fact, when I first got the DM3 I couldn’t find any picture adjustments at all; pressing the Visual Setup button on the remote simply brought up a list of options with the ‘Image’ one greyed out. The reason for this, it transpired, was that the DM3 ships with its Colour Mode set to Auto – a mode in which the projector self-adjusts its images based on the amount of ambient light it picks up via a sensor mounted on the projector’s top side.

This actually again seems a very clever idea to incorporate into a casual projector, since it means you don’t have to faff about trying to adjust the picture every time the ambient light conditions in your room change for a moment, such as if someone puts the lights on to make a cup of tea or look for a specific button on the sadly-not-backlit remote control…

The extra brightness at the DM3’s disposal helps the Auto image adjust function work surprisingly well, since it really is able to ramp up the image’s brightness output dramatically when changing light conditions require it.

The downside is that the DM3’s extremely wide brightness range also leads to some strikingly different levels of running noise. And believe me when I say that when the DM3 is running at near full brightness, the racket the projector’s cooling fans produce is pretty damn hard to ignore. This problem is given added weight, I suspect, by the fact that the projector offers an ‘instant shut down’ feature, which while handy for casual users inevitably requires the lamp to be cool enough at all times to be instantly switched off.

Despite the racket from the cooling fans, I’m rather shocked to report that the DM3’s built-in speakers have a pretty decent stab at drowning the cooling fans out, even when they’re at their loudest. In fact, remarkably the DM3 boasts not one but two 10W speakers within its bodywork, complete with pseudo surround processing, making it the first ever integrated projector sound system that’s actually powerful enough to fill a reasonable sized room with reasonably detailed sound.

Let’s not get too carried away here. The soundstage appears crowded and harsh at times, and there’s the eternal problem with projection audio systems of the sound not actually appearing to come from the vicinity of the picture! But even this problem isn’t quite as distressing on the DM3 as it usually is with projector audio systems, purely on account of how much further the sound travels thanks to the DM3’s unparalleled amount of raw audio power.

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