|Mitsubishi HC5000 LCD Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors LCD Projectors|
|Written by Kevin Miller|
|Sunday, 01 July 2007|
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It has been raining 1080p HDTVs in all the different display categories, and the front-projection arena has a slew of new high-resolution models at surprisingly aggressive price points for consumers to choose from. There are three display technologies dominating front projection. They are LCD, LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon), which is a derivative of LCD, and DLP (Digital Light Processing). Unlike most manufacturers, Mitsubishi is betting on two horses in this race, as they currently make and sell both LCD and DLP front projectors. Their recently introduced HC5000 is the company’s first 1080p front projector. A three-panel LCD projector, the HC5000 is Mitsubishi’s flagship model at the time of this review. There is no display technology where this vaunted high resolution can be appreciated more then with front-projection systems where we can create truly large cinematic viewing experiences in the home.
Modest and basic are the first two words that come to mind when I contemplate the HC5000's design. It is on the small side, measuring just 13.1 by 4.9 by 13.8 inches (W x H x D), and weighing in at just 12.3 pounds. My review sample was finished in white and accentuated with black on both sides, underneath the chassis and around the lens. When flipped upside down for a ceiling-mount configuration, the lens assembly is all the way on the left side of the unit, which is not quite as attractive as projectors like Mitsubishi’s own HC3000 768p resolution one-chip DLP projector, which has the lens assembly mounted square in the middle of the chassis. All the input jacks on the HC5000 are located on the rear of the projector.
The HC5000’s remote is a model of excellence in terms of design and practicality. Direct access keys for all the most important features and functionality make adjustments on the fly a snap, and will be a welcome thing for custom installers who typically need to program its functionality into a Crestron or AMX touch panel remote system. Hit any key and all the buttons instantly light up, which is another very practical feature, as it makes use in a darkened home theater quite convenient. Like the projector, it is small, fits well in the hand, and gives you thumb access to the most important buttons like Menu, Iris and Aspect ratio controls, to name just a few.
As far as the video connections are concerned, I find the HC5000 a bit limited. While there is only one HDMI input, there is also a DVI input that can be used as a second digital input. However, with virtually all source components today sporting HDMI outputs, you will have to get a DVI to HDMI adaptor to make it work for digital video sources. Of course, the DVI input could also be used with an HDPC as a video source. One RCA jack-style component input and a 15-pin VGA input can be configured as RGB for PCs or component for video, effectively giving the HC5000 two component video inputs. Of course, for NTSC legacy formats like VHS, there is also one S-Video and one composite video input on board. An RS-232 control port and a 12-volt trigger for electric drop-down screens wrap up the connectivity options.
The HC5000 offers many useful features that make it quite flexible from a set-up perspective. First and most impressive, especially for a relatively inexpensive front projector, is the fact that the HC5000 gives you electronic Zoom, Focus, and Lens Shift features. Equally impressive is the fact that it offers both horizontal and vertical lens shift, which is something a lot of LCD projectors have, but very few models give you the luxury of electronically controlling these key features. For some reason, horizontal lens shift is still relatively rare in DLP projector designs. Compare this flexibility to the Sharp XV-Z20000 1080p DLP projector, which sells for twice the price and gives you only vertical lens shift and Zoom, Focus and lens shift features that are all manual, making set-up much more difficult and time-consuming. Color temperature selections on the HC5000 include Warm, Medium, Cool and User. I found Medium to be the best compromise for the color of the grayscale. It was blue on the bottom, but near the broadcast standard of 6500 Kelvins on the top of the grayscale. The Warm selection, which is usually the most accurate, was far too red.
The adjustability of the Iris on digital projectors like the HC5000 is arguably the most important feature for set-up. This is perhaps the Mitsubishi HC5000’s biggest weakness. On any projector like this, you should have the ability to select a variety of apertures on the Iris to achieve the best blacks and light output for a given system. You would normally stop the Iris down for better black level performance on smaller screens and open it up accordingly for larger screen sizes, where you need more light output. Unfortunately, this is not an option with the HC5000, which provides three Auto Iris settings and an Open setting. The Auto settings are not desirable, as white and black levels change depending upon the content of the picture, and the Open setting, while fixed, completely opens the Iris, which severely compromises the black level performance of the projector. There are several Gamma settings to choose from. Cinema and User seemed to be identical, and both these choices produced the slowest rise out of black for the best black level performance. I settled on the User gamma setting for my evaluation.