Unlike most manufacturers, Mitsubishi has offered both DLP and LCD projection technologies, both in microdisplay RPTVs and in its front-projection line of products. First announced at the CEDIA show in September 2006, the LCD-based HC5000 is the company's first 1080p native resolution front projector, and it remains one of the least expensive 1080p projectors available. Considering just how competitive the 1080p front-projection market has become since then, however, I was a little disappointed in the HC5000's overall performance.
With a minimalist yet sleek design, the Mitsubishi HC5000 is both attractive and somewhat high-tech looking. My review sample was finished in white with black highlights underneath and on both sides, as well as directly around the lens. An all-black finish is also available. When the projector is ceiling-mounted upside down, the lens assembly will be all the way to the left side of the chassis.
The remote is an excellent design, both ergonomically and functionally. It's on the small side but fit well in my hand, and it gives you thumb access to most of the important buttons such as menu, iris, and aspect ratio controls. Direct-access keys for all the most important features will help custom installers when programming a Crestron or AMX touch-panel remote system. I were particularly pleased to find that the remote becomes fully backlit as soon as you hit any key.
From a setup and flexibility perspective, the Mitsubishi HC5000 offers many useful features. Most impressive for a relatively inexpensive LCD projector are the electronic zoom, focus, and lens shift features. I also like the fact that it offers horizontal as well as vertical lens shift, which is something a lot of LCD projectors have but is still relatively rare in DLP projector designs. Color temperature selections include Warm, Medium, Cool, and User. I found Medium to be closest to the broadcast standard, but in order to calibrate the grayscale, you must select User.
The Mitsubishi HC5000's iris settings, on the other hand, leave a lot to be desired. On most projectors of this type, you have the ability to select a variety of apertures on the iris to achieve the best balance between black levels and light output for your system and screen size. The HC5000 provides three Auto Iris settings as well as an Open setting, which fixes the aperture in the wide-open position. I chose Auto 1 as the best compromise, but none of them were really satisfactory (see Performance for details). There are several Gamma settings to choose from, with both Cinema and User being identical, not to mention the most accurate.
Connectivity options are somewhat limited on the HC5000. My biggest complaint is that there is only one HDMI input, although there is also a DVI input that would work as well with an adaptor. One RCA jack style component input is also available, and there's a 15-pin VGA input that can be configured to RGB for PCs or to component for video. Of course, the obligatory S-Video and composite-video inputs are on board as well. Finally, an RS-232 control port and a 12-volt trigger round out the connectivity.