Home projection just got friendlier. The EH-DM2 provides hassle-free, big screen entertainment using just the nearest white wall and without criss-crossing your front room floor with yards of cable.

What it lacks in ultimate video quality it makes up for in usability and features: fitted with a carry handle and a built-in DVD and CD drive, the lightbox pushes its all-in-one credentials to the limit by including two 8W stereo speakers.

Weak resolution

While the EH-DM2 does have component video inputs that can accept a 1080i signal, its resolution of 854 x 480 pixels isn't enough to display HD. Those component video inputs can take a progressive scan signal from a Nintendo Wii (or any other games console or DVD player), plus the built-in DVD player has a progressive mode.

The DVD slot itself can also play music from a recordable CD or DVD, as well as DiVX video files (and even separate subtitle files).

Designed to work in daylight, the EH-DM2 can manage 1,200 ANSI Lumens brightness, though its quoted contrast ratio of 1,000:1 is on the low side.

Stereo speakers (which also offer a Virtual Surround sound mode) on each side of the unit support the one-cable setup that's the EH-DM2's raison d'être, but if you do want to introduce cables there is an electrical digital audio output capable of sending Dolby Digital and DTS digital surround sound to a home cinema system.

Portability problems

The EH-DM2 is designed to be carried around, but doesn't seem robust enough, and while its rounded casing and carry handle help, the power cable slips out too easily, potentially harming the lamp. The foam bag is also too flimsy, though the projector itself does have a handy lens cover that helps protect the lamp.

A pair of feet enable a tilt of up to 5°, while a handy vertical and horizontal lens shift adjust the projected image accordingly.

It's best to aim for an 80in image from just under 2.5m, although it is possible to project a 150in picture from around 4.5m.

Although the EH-DM2's speakers are designed primarily to provide just enough audio to accompany movies, it's Epson's hope that it will also appeal as a portable jukebox. Insert a USB stick containing MP3 or WMA files and it immediately begins to play music, while JPEGs are nicely presented as either thumbnail images or as a smooth-running slideshow.

Daytime viewing

Epson's own E-TORL lamp works well in daylight as it's capable of 1,200 ANSI lumens brightness, which means that you can use the projector in rooms with plenty of ambient light provided you use 'dynamic' mode.

The downside is that, even in a blackout, projections lack contrast, even despite the best efforts of a 'theatre' mode. Bright images won't be a major issue: in an outside scene from our test DVD The Motorcycle Diaries, Che and Alberto struggle though the streets of Buenos Aires amid well saturated colours with plenty of boldness.

But as the travellers dive down a side street two rather obvious weaknesses to the picture start to present themselves. The first is contrast – the side of the street in shadow is grey and lacks detail – while the second problem is a modicum of motion blur.

Crucially, though, neither problem is endemic and never interrupts enjoyment of what is a thoroughly a cinematic image.

While images seem soft compared to hi-def, DVDs do enjoy an acceptable amount of detail, but the LCD's panel's grid structure is visible. This is one of the main weaknesses of this technology and not likely to be one solved on a sub-£500 projector.

Stick to component setting on DVD playback and the EH-DM2 is destined to impress, though it's advisable to keep the picture size to below 100in – and even smaller if you're watching a DiVX file of questionable quality.

Seperate speakers

The EH-DM2's built-in speakers are something of a bonus. As well as concert, drama, action and even a 'sci-fi ' mode, the wraparound speakers also offer Virtual Surround sound, though you do have to sit directly behind the unit to witness any significant effect.

Even then, it's something of a novelty. High-octane movie soundtracks don't get a proper treatment and the overall sound can end up sounding a little harsh from the 8W speakers, with some distortion at high volumes, but there's enough detail for games and dialogue-heavy movies if you sit close enough.

Helpfully, there's a headphone jack on the front if you're after a more immersive experience or don't want to disturb others.

Vital in its quest to be a plug-n-play projector, the EH-DM2's speakers really pull together the concept of a one-box cinema.

All-in-one

Those speakers have just enough quality to make the EH-DM2 a success. Epson has come up with a good, basic projector that's very easy to use and highly portable.

For games and occasional movies there's plenty of quality on offer to make the EH-DM2 a great introduction to the wonderful world of home cinema projection.