Mitsubishi HC6000 3LCD Video Projector 
Home Theater Front Projectors LCD Projectors
Written by Kevin Miller   
Tuesday, 01 July 2008

Introduction
Mitsubishi’s new HC6000, using advanced three-panel inorganic LCD panels (3LCD), replaces last year’s HC5000. It is the company’s latest 1080p 3LCD front projector. I was very pleased to discover that Mitsubishi made significant improvements in the critical area of black-level performance over the HC5000. Like the previous model, the HC6000 has a comprehensive feature package. Most of the features in the projector are intended to help you with the set-up and installation of the projector and to allow fine-tuning of the picture. This new model also utilizes an improved lens compared to its predecessor and, as a result, the HC6000 delivers sharp and highly detailed pictures. Let’s see how it compares with other 1080p-resolution projectors at or near its price range to determine its value quotient.

Design
The HC6000 is a compact, lightweight projector with a relatively small overall footprint. It measures just 13.14 inches by 4.92 inches by 13.85 inches (HWD), and comes in at a welterweight 12.35 lbs. It will easily tuck away into most ceilings, and its all-black finish will help camouflage it from view nicely. Its design is quite basic, with the lens situated at the outer right edge when ceiling-mounted, or the outer left edge when configured for a floor mount. All the video connectivity is located on the rear of the chassis. The lens is surrounded by a square encasement, which gives the whole projector a rather blocky look, which lacks design flare and is not all that attractive.

I really like the simplicity of the remote control’s design. It is ergonomically well-designed, fitting in the hand nicely, and it is fully backlit, so making adjustments to the projector in a darkened theater environment are that much easier. End users, as well as custom installers wanting to program the remote’s functions into a touch panel, will be pleased to find that nearly all the functionality as well as inputs, iris control and aspect ratio control are all directly accessible from the unit. The GUI (Graphical User Interface) or internal menu system hasn’t changed from last year’s HC5000 remote, remaining quite simple and intuitive to navigate and use.

Features
The HC6000 is replete with all manner of features designed to aid in the set-up of the projector and to enhance picture quality. At the top of the list, in terms of usefulness and importance, are the electronic horizontal and vertical lens shift, zoom and focus features. It is particularly unusual for a projector in the sub-$5,000 price category to offer all these functions electronically. In this price range, these features are usually manual; horizontal lens shift is especially uncommon in a projector in this price range. This feature really simplifies the otherwise arduous task of sizing, positioning and focusing the projector, as it allows you to be right up at the screen when making these adjustments.

A total of six gamma modes, which are really picture modes with different gamma curves, are on tap, with Cinema being the best selectable mode. Two User modes allow you to adjust the gamma curve, but I don’t recommend this unless you are an experienced technician with the proper test equipment. There are also six selectable color temperatures available, and the User color temperature is adjustable for those wishing to have the unit professionally calibrated. Of course, I did avail myself of the grayscale controls in the User color temperature to calibrate the grayscale, which yielded excellent results. The Auto Iris feature seems to be the rage with front-projection manufacturers, especially LCD and LCoS-based machines. The Auto Iris opens and closes the Iris, depending on the brightness of the content of the picture. I have probably said this a million times in my projector reviews, but I will say it again: I highly recommend that you shut the Auto Iris off. The reason is that the Auto Iris causes both white level and black level to shift up and down depending on picture content, and both white and black need to be set correctly and remain constant for the best picture and performance. You can actually see this happening when watching a movie if you pay close attention; it is extremely distracting. Lastly, there are three memories per input, which should be more than enough to store different settings for different sources.

Connectivity is fairly comprehensive for a front projector. Two HDMI (Version 1.3) inputs head up the list. This is another improvement over last year’s HC5000, which had one HDMI and one DVI input. A single component video input and a 15-pin VGA input that can be configured for component video are also on board. A single S-Video and a single composite video input for older legacy sources like VHS decks, etc., are also present. Last but not least, an RS-232 control port for programming touch panel remote systems like Crestron and AMX and a 12-volt trigger that automatically controls electric drop-down screens are available as well.

Performance
There is no doubt that Mitsubishi has made some significant improvements in performance with the HC6000 when compared to last year’s HC5000 model. For my money, the biggest area of improvement is in the black-level performance, which of course increases the contrast ratio significantly. Since contrast ratio is one of the most important aspects of picture quality, it is no wonder that the 6000 is impressive compared to last year’s 5000, which had really poor black-level performance. While blacks are much better than last year’s model, the best one-chip 1080p-resolution DLP projectors produce superior blacks. The JVC RS-2, an LCoS-based front projector, is also slightly better than the Mitsubishi HC6000 in this all-important performance parameter, although the JVC is nearly twice the price.

Accurate color decoding, relatively good gamma and excellent grayscale tracking are all positive performance traits of the HC6000. However, the excellent color decoding and grayscale tracking capability are somewhat diminished by the inaccurate primary and secondary colors on the HC6000. This impacts what I refer to as overall color accuracy. In fairness to Mitsubishi, this is the norm in consumer HDTVs, rather than the exception. It is a shame, though, that manufacturers continue to sacrifice color fidelity in primary and secondary colors to achieve more light output, as most of these projectors have ample light output and accurate color would be easily achieved simultaneously with adequate light output.

The HC6000, even in the low lamp mode, produced over 15 footlamberts of light output on my Stewart Filmscreen Grayhawk Reference screen, which is 92 inches diagonal or 80 inches wide by 45 inches high. I imagine that, in high lamp mode, the HC6000 could drive a 100- to 105-inch screen, or even a low-gain screen like the Grayhawk RS with sufficient light output.

Video processing is provided by Silicon Optix, with the company’s Reon-VX HQV processing technology. De-interlacing was very good and, as evidenced by the Silicon Optix HQV test disc in Blu-ray format, the HC6000 does a fine job with both video-based HD material and film-based HD material. I did compare the picture quality with standard-definition cable and my Blu-ray DVDs run through my DVDO VP50Pro outboard video processor. The DVDO did outperform the internal HQV processing, but I would expect that from a $3,500 standalone video processor. I must say, the Mitsubishi on its own is impressive in this regard.

For a look at black-level performance with real program material, I chose to watch the recent release on Blu-ray of Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Warner Home Video), which is an extremely dark movie throughout. The opening sequence is particularly good for examining blacks, with the aerial view of a futuristic Los Angeles at night. The otherworldly-looking buildings against the night background were reasonably well-rendered, although the blacks were a little muddy and had some visible noise in them. 

The opening scene that takes place in the diner and the chop shop in The Departed on Blu-ray (Warner Home Video) is also somewhat dark. This is because director Martin Scorsese is trying to keep you from seeing Jack Nicholson, who is not supposed to be as old as he is in the beginning of the movie, as the film is about to jump 20 or more years into the future, taking Matt Damon from a young kid to a 20-something about to graduate from the police academy. That particular scene looked good, with plenty of shadow detail. It is also a good scene for motion to test 24fps, with the sharp left to right pan in the diner when the young girl comes down to serve Nicholson’s character. Unfortunately, the HC6000 doesn’t have a 120Hz motion feature, which is a multiple of 24fps, and would potentially smooth the pan out on Blu-ray if the player is set to output 24fps, so there is some judder retained in this scene. Overall, this sequence looked pretty good, with razor-sharp clarity. Given its price, the HC6000 has a reasonably good lens. There are only a few chromatic aberrations, which show up as blue and red fringing around white lines not unlike a mis-converged CRT projector, so images are rendered with very good clarity if the source is good.

The Downside
Overall, the HC6000 is an impressive front projector for a sub-$4,000 machine. However, like everything in consumer electronics, there are some negatives. The blacks on the HC6000 could still use some improvement, even though they are significantly better than those on Mitsubishi’s previous HC5000. The fact of the matter is that the black-level performance is still not as good as the best LCD and DLP-based front projectors. As is the case with most projectors sold for under about $15,000, the HC6000’s overall color fidelity is marred by its inaccurate primary and secondary colors. Green is particularly far off from the HDTV specification and, as such, renders natural objects like grass much too punchy and lime-hued.

Conclusion
Mitsubishi’s HC6000 is a big step up from last year’s HC5000 as far as performance and features are concerned. Video processing is significantly improved over last year’s model, with Silicon Optix’s Reon-VX HQV processing. The most significant picture advancement in performance comes with the incrementally improved black-level performance, which significantly boosts the contrast ratio. This gives images produced by the 6000 much more snap and pop than last year’s HC5000, which was particularly disappointing in black-level performance. The new 6000 may not be quite as good as the best LCoS projectors in this regard, like the JVC RS-2, but blacks are good enough for most material. It also delivers on its 1080p-resolution promise for the most part, with good video processing courtesy of Silicon Optix. The lens for an inexpensive projector is also pretty good, which means you will actually see most of that resolution. It offers an extensive feature package, the most impressive being the electronic motorized zoom, focus, horizontal and vertical lens shift features usually only found on much more expensive projectors. My two biggest complaints are the inaccuracy of the primary and secondary colors and the less than perfect blacks. The best direct competitor in terms of price, features and specifications would be the Sony VPL-VW60. I would give the edge to the Mitsubishi in terms of overall performance, because of its better lens and video processing. It is also a really good value when compared to the Sony, which lists for $1,000 more.
Manufacturer Mitsubishi
Model HC6000 3LCD Video Projector
Reviewer Kevin Miller
HDMI Input Yes
# of HDMI Inputs 2
HDMI Version 1.3
Native Resolution 1080p





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