Surprisingly, it wasn't the quality of the projection that caught my attention but rather the sheer loudness of the built-in speaker. I found it almost too loud to sit directly behind the projector when it was set at half volume; therefore, it's not difficult to imagine the MG-850HD serving a crowd of up to 100 people in a large room.
Figure 2: The Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD with an iPad in the Apple dock.
It is evident that Epson has taken pains to keep the chassis of the MG-850HD uncluttered. Aside from a few LED indicator lights, there is only a power button, a source button and two other buttons to adjust the volume of the speaker. There is a downside to this design decision though; more on that later.
When used with a docked iOS device as the input source, a menu pops up to facilitate navigating through the various media files by videos, music and photos. Though simplistic, it's easy and intuitive to navigate using the included remote control's four directional arrow keys, a select button and a "back" button. Any media files that you can view on the iOS device can be played on the projector.
Room for Improvement
While the MG-850HD can be improved in a number of areas, my complaints are relatively minor. For example, the side panel is made of plastic, but the back portion is made from a rubber-like material. The latter looks like something that could easily fall off and get lost. In addition, the IR receiver is located only on the front panel, which requires that you stand in front of the projector to make adjustments using the remote control. Admittedly, this is an issue with most projectors, not just the MG-850HD.
The most frustrating issue has to do with the vital role of the remote control when working with a docked iOS device. As mentioned earlier, navigating through the various media content on an iPad has to be done using the remote control. It would be better if Epson incorporated a simple console onto the MG-850HD with the requisite arrow keys and select/deselect buttons. This would avoid problems if you misplace the remote control or if the battery runs out during a presentation.
The Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD is an extremely versatile projector that will work not just with a PC, but with an iPhone smartphone or an iPad tablet. Moreover, its wide variety of input ports means that gaming consoles such as the Nitendo Wii or Microsoft Xbox will work too, as will DVD or Blu-ray players. Finally, its powerful built-in speakers and its capability to play media files independently of a PC qualify it as an excellent all-in-one device.
Overall, the MG-850HD exceeded my expectations, and I would especially recommend it as a worthwhile investment for small businesses embracing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in the form of iOS devices. The Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD has an MSRP of $799.
Paul Mah covers technology for SMBs for Small Business Computing and for IT Business Edge. He also shares his passion for and knowledge of everything from networking to operating systems as an instructor at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, and is a contributor to a number of tech sites, including Ars Technica and TechRepublic.
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