Epson MG-850HD review

Tom Morgan
20 Feb 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

A decent entry-level LCD projector with some clever features, but if you don’t need the dock you can find 1080p at this price



1,280x800 resolution, 2,800 ANSI lumens, 340x115x291mm, 3.9kg

Epson’s latest entry-level LCD projector has an integrated iPhone and iPad dock, so is intended to live on a coffee table or bookshelf rather than be screwed to the ceiling.

Epson MG-850HD

The pop-out docking tray will support any iPod, iPhone or iPad, letting you play photo slideshows, music and videos from wherever you are in the room using the slim remote control. Epson's interface is responsive and intuitive, so we had no problem finding and playing our files. We also liked that we could play music through the speakers when the projector was in standby mode, although this is definitely no replacement for a good quality iPod dock.

Epson MG-850HD

Beyond the dock, connectivity is rather limited – a single HDMI input is ideal for connecting a games console, Blu-ray player or AV amplifier, but with only one component and one composite input, you may need to switch cables around when connecting multiple devices. There are also only two analogue RCA inputs and a single 3.5mm microphone input for audio devices. A USB host type B port lets you drive the projector from your PC over USB, and standard USB host port will let you display photos directly from a USB flash drive.

Epson MG-850HD

The MG-850HD can only project up to 720p video, which isn't such a problem as Apple devices can only output standard definition video through the dock. However, unlike other low-end and mid-range projectors from other manufacturers, the MG-850HD is an LCD rather than DLP projector. This means there are no rainbow effect problems to spoil the image.

Video quality was impressive for such a budget projector – the picture was incredibly sharp and very bright in a dark room. The 2,800 lumens lamp helps greatly, bringing surprisingly vivid colours. Unfortunately, a downside to the high brightness was disappointing black levels – even in complete darkness, it was difficult to pick out some of the detail in certain scenes.

If you can’t mount your projector completely perpendicular to your wall, you have the choice of digital vertical keystone correction and a slider on the top of the projector for horizontal keystone correction. You'll lose some quality when using it, though.

Sound quality was reasonable, with the two 10w speakers managing to create a clear mid-range and crisp high-end. Unsurprisingly, bass response was lacking without a dedicated subwoofer. Although it’s possible to use it without a set of dedicated speakers, if you want your film watching experience to rival the cinema you’ll definitely need to invest in some.

Epson MG-850HD

The MG-850HD isn’t aimed at anyone looking to add a projector to a home cinema setup – even though image quality is above average, you won’t be able to play high definition video from an iPad or iPhone, and you'll be limited to 720p from other sources. It makes a great middle ground between office and home use, particularly for iPad owners, but if you’re looking to buy your first projector for the living room, you can find better value elsewhere.




Projector technologyLCD
Lamp brightness2,800 ANSI lumens
Lamp life4,000
Lamp life in economy mode5,000
Contrast ratio3000:1


Native resolution1,280x800
Max compressed resolution1,920x1,080
Aspect ratio16:10
Other aspect ratios16:9, 4:3
Max diagonal at 7ft76in
Throw ratio1.30:1 to 1:56:1
Optical zoom1.2x
Projection distance0.8m to 8m
Mirror imageyes
Invert imageyes
Lens shift horizontal30%
Lens shift vertical30%
HD Readyyes
Special view modesAuto, Dynamic, Living, Cinema, Game


VGA inputyes
DVI inputNo
Sound inputs3.5mm
Composite inputyes
S-video inputno
HDMI inputyes
PAL supportyes
SECAM supportyes
NTSC supportyes
Audio outputphono
Video outputnone
Others inputs/outputsUSB mass storage port, USB service port


Noise (in normal use)29dB(A)
Internal speakersyes (2x 10W)
Extrasremote, cables (power, VGA)
Remote special featurespicture mode, colour temp, aspect ratio, zoom, keystone, input select, light
Power consumption standby1W
Power consumption on54W


Lamp cost (inc VAT)£138
Lamp cost per hour of use£0.03
Lamp cost per hour of use (economy)£0.02

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