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Mitsubishi HC3800 review: Mitsubishi HC3800

The HD image quality of this Mitsubishi and its longer lamp life are the keys to this projector's appeal. If you can forgive a few minor shortcomings, the HC3800 is an excellent choice among the current affordable 1080p crop.

Nic Tatham
4 min read

While its local automotive division had a series of hiccups in recent years, Mitsubishi Electric seems to be weathering the global financial storm quite nicely. Aside from a vast array of domestic and commercial air conditioning and a range of household refrigerators, Mitsubishi Electric also includes four home theatre projectors. It too has brought 1080p projection to a far more affordable level lately, and the HC3800 has proved one of its more popular models.


Mitsubishi HC3800

The Good

Compact size Impressive big HD images. Great blacks and natural colours. Value for money with long lamp life.

The Bad

Prefers permanent placement. Only one HDMI input. Dust magnet.

The Bottom Line

The HD image quality of this Mitsubishi and its longer lamp life are the keys to this projector's appeal. If you can forgive a few minor shortcomings, the HC3800 is an excellent choice among the current affordable 1080p crop.

Design and features

Encased in shiny black plastic, this is a serious dust magnet, as are all high-gloss electronics. Physically, the Mitsubishi is a similar size to the Optoma HD20 and BenQ W1000, which is well proportioned if you're opting for table-top use. It can, of course, be ceiling mounted and has top cover access so the projector doesn't have to be removed to change the lamp. Speaking of which, Mitsubishi rates it good for 5000 hours in "Low" mode making it one the longest-lasting of any manufacturer. A replacement is going to cost around AU$550 making it a lot dearer than that of the BenQ for example, so factor this in when weighing up the pros and cons of lamp replacement cost versus hours of use. But, if it lasts as long as Mitsubishi claims, the long-term running costs of the HC3800 would be comparatively very affordable.

There's only the one HDMI input, compared to the mandatory two (or more) that you'll find on any of the competition, plus component video, VGA, S-Video and composite options. No manual lens shifting means installation could be a bit tricky, although the installation menu does offer a vertical shift option. Control is via a serial input RS-232 and there's a 12v trigger to enable powered screens.

When it comes to the number crunching, the Mitsubishi's on par with what you'd expect at this resolution, projection type and price. The specs tell us there are 1300 lumens, combined with a contrast ratio of 3300:1. Coupled with a 1.5x zoom lens, you'll be able to happily view things in "Low" lamp mode, making full use of those extra lamp hours without worrying about lack of brightness.

The supplied remote is basic, but functional and the buttons are backlit so you're not left fumbling in the dark. There are the usual accessories available too, such as a ceiling mount and the warranty extends to a two-year parts and labour on the projector, while the lamp is covered for one year or 500 hours, depending on which comes first.


We were expecting great things from this affordable projector, but a few hurdles had to be overcome before we could say we were happy with its picture and set-up. Coffee table-mounting proved a bit fiddly: the HC3800 has to be pretty much at the right height and angle before it'll fill the screen accurately, with the vertical image shifting, which proved to be helpful, but not overly so. The HC3800 would be much better off ceiling mounted and set-up the once — it doesn't have the sort of temporary placement flexibility of either the BenQ W1000 or Optoma HD20. We also needed a touch of keystone correction, but couldn't quite get the same tight lines (both vertically and horizontally) as we did with the more expensive Sony VPLHW15, which fitted our LP Morgan screen like a glove.

Then it was onto the picture that needed calibrating from the factory defaults. Once again, have a stab at it yourself with a calibration DVD or Blu-ray disc, or if you don't trust your own eyes, a professional will get the projector looking its absolute best, both during the day and at night. We ended up running the HC3800 in Low mode as it produced ample light output and even dropped the brightness levels a touch further in the settings. The Gamma mode was left on Auto and we turned the BrilliantColor off to ensure there was none of the hard edge ghosting that it tends to inflict on strong colours. We also left the Mitsubishi's Colour Management off. There are plenty of adjustment options including an Advanced picture menu, but for the most part, the few tweaks we made produced excellent quality images.

Solid blacks with good depth; plenty of high, strong contrast; bold, stable colours and razor sharp detail levels are what this Mitsubishi dishes up with HD content. Avatar came alive with all its colourful palette and extraordinary detail there to behold. Although very good, the Mitsubishi is still a notch behind the likes of the Sony VPLHW15 for sheer visual punch, but it comfortably holds its own compared to the similarly priced Epson EH-TW3500 and offers more than both the Optoma HD20 and BenQ W1000.

We didn't notice any rainbow effect during any of the testing, and when we played the DVD of Sin City it showed this was still the case with black-and-white material, plus the Mitsubishi demonstrated its accurate processing of film or video-based standard-definition material. Not all digital light processing do such a good job here, but we have no complaints about how the HC3800 handled itself.

It's also nice and quiet; sitting directly behind we weren't ever reminded audibly of its presence. It's whisper quiet in Low mode and hardly a few decibels louder in Standard, but still never a distraction while in use.


The HD image quality of this Mitsubishi and its longer lamp life are the keys to this projector's appeal. Shopping around will secure one for around AU$2500 or slightly less, making this an excellent value 1080p projector. It's not the most table-top-friendly plus there's only that one HDMI input, but if you can forgive these shortcomings the HC3800 is an excellent choice among the current affordable 1080p crop.