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Mitsubishi HC5000 review: Mitsubishi HC5000

Design
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.

mitsubishi-hc5000-lcd-projector-1000-lumens-1920-x-1080-widescreen-hd-1080p.jpg
6.8

Mitsubishi HC5000

The Good

Relatively inexpensive for a 1080p projector; accurate color decoding; solid video processing; well-rounded feature package.

The Bad

Iris settings are not good enough for dedicated darkened theater setups, and consequently blacks are not as deep as the best 1080p projectors.

The Bottom Line

Although stylish and affordable for a 1080p projector, the Mitsubishi HC5000's black level failings prevent it from earning our recommendation.
Unlike most manufacturers, Mitsubishi has offered both DLP and LCD projection technologies, both in 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.

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.

Features
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.

Performance
Overall, Mitsubishi's HC5000 is a bit underwhelming in the picture quality department when compared to that of many other 1080p projectors in the $4,000-to-$5,000 price range. Problems with the iris directly affect black level performance in a negative way. By way of comparison, the Epson Home Cinema 1080 at $3,000, and better still, our reference Samsung SP-H710AE 720p 1-chip DLP projector (about the same price as the Epson), both handily outperform the HC5000 and will save you quite a few dollars in the process.

My biggest complaint with the Mitsubishi HC5000 was lack of adjustability with the iris. The Auto Iris settings allow the contrast level to change on the fly, which simultaneously floats the black portions of the image, making them brighter, when displaying bright material. Unfortunately, this is painfully obvious when you are trying to watch a movie -- it's another classic "feature" that destroys picture quality. I would normally advise you to turn it off, but the only setting on this projector that disables Auto Iris is the Open setting, which opens it up completely, making blacks too unacceptably light. The best compromise here is the Auto 1 setting.

Although bright material mostly looked good, on darker scenes the picture appeared a bit washed-out looking, an issue I attribute to Auto Iris. On King Kong, blacks appeared muddied, and not as deep and rich as I'd would expect. This was clearly visible in the scene where they reach Skull Island on the boat in the dark fog. On the other hand, Chapter 25 of Batman Begins, a black level torture test, was rendered fairly well with decent shadow detail. Blacks were also comprised on what I consider medium bright scenes in Batman Begins. This effect was especially when there was a bright image on a black background; blacks "floated" up, turning a dark gray. I saw this on the Discovery HD channel with a nighttime rocket launch scene, for example.

Color accuracy on the HC5000 is pretty decent overall. Primary and secondary colors are about average for the category. Color decoding is spot on for both SD and HD sources, and grayscale tracking is pretty good for an LCD projector. Gamma leaves a bit to be desired, and that, coupled with the inability to stop down and fix the Iris to a setting that produces better blacks, makes the black level performance of the HC5000 substandard to what is available in both LCD and DLP 1080p resolution projectors at similar price points.

The lens on the HC5000 is impressive for a sub-$5,000 projector, as evidenced by a distinct lack of chromatic aberrations, and extremely well defined and crisp images. White field uniformity is also pretty good for a transmissive LCD product. Video processing was clean and relatively noise free. The unit also passed the Video Resolution Loss test on Silicon Optix's new HQV Benchmark HD DVD test disc, which tests how well it deinterlaces 1080i HD material. This means you get all the resolution from 1080i HD signals, which not all inexpensive projectors can claim. However, I was disappointed to find that the HC5000 doesn't handle 1080p/24 well, lopping off some resolution at the HDMI input, and it won't accept 1080p in any format at the component input. It also truncates the resolution of 1080i signals at the component input somewhat, so I recommend using HDMI when possible.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 8,150/6,250 Average
After color temp 6,250/6,400 Average
Before grayscale variation +/- 683K Average
After grayscale variation +/- 111K Average
Color of red (x/y) 0.650/0.325 Average
Color of green 0.259/0.602 Poor
Color of blue 0.145/0.064 Average
Overscan 0 percent Good
Black-level retention All patterns stable Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Yes Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24fps Yes Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Pass Good

mitsubishi-hc5000-lcd-projector-1000-lumens-1920-x-1080-widescreen-hd-1080p.jpg
6.8

Mitsubishi HC5000

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 6