Home @ the Movies

Movie night's a nice family tradition. But now that Junior's got a new video iPod and Razr cellphone, he's starting to lose interest in watching movies on the TV. What to do?

A projector/DVD-player combo might be the ticket. They're small enough to tuck away in a closet most of the time, but deliver an image large enough to make Junior forget about handheld video. Plus, with their built-in speakers, and in some cases accompanying bass modules, you can set them up in any room. And the built-in DVD player makes watching a movie simple, while video inputs make them perfect for a Super Bowl blowout.

What We Think
MovieMate 25 RadioShack Cinego D-1000 Optoma MovieTime DV-10
Had the best sound and most natural out-of-box color, but other issues undermined its picture. Limited controls and unnatural color leave this projector playing catch-up. Advanced user controls, great looks, and easy setup make up for the lack of a bass module.

We gathered three projector/DVD combos - Epson's MovieMate 25 ($1,499), Optoma's MovieTime DV-10 ($1,299), and RadioShack's Cinego D-1000 ($1,300) - and judged them head to head using a Stewart Greyhawk screen. But first, a reality check. In contrast to the high-end, high-definition options out there, these projectors top out at 480p (progressive-scan) resolution. And any decent surround system will put their built-in speakers to shame. But these combos are about portability and fun. So if you want an easy way to wow your friends and family, read on.