Home Theater Projector Reviews:
Mitsubishi HC1500 DLP Projector:
Summary, Pros, Cons
Less than a year after the launch of the HD1000U, Mitsubishi has rolled out this slighly improved HC1500. For the most part, the HC1500 (link to specs) isn't about overall improved performance, although the significant jump in measured brightness compared to our review of the HD1000U, is signicant. Primarily, from speaking with Mitsubishi, the HC1500 was redesigned internally, to be less expensive to build, and in turn remain price competitive. Consider that the HD1000U was 50% more expensive when launched 9 months ago, than the HC1500 is now, and that's a very good thing!
Competitively, the HC1500 stacks up like this, against the other top sellers:
Priced to compete with the Optoma HD70, it has the advantage in brightness, a touch better in sharpness, similar placement flexibility, but a one year shorter warranty. Overall, we prefer the HC1500.
The Epson Home Cinema 400 is another bright projector, and LCD based. The HC1500 will have the advantage in "film-like" image quality, as the Epson, appears a little "hard". The Epson is technically about $1500 but has a large rebate that brings it down near $1000, so the Home Cinema 400 is still definitely more expensive. The Epson, though, offers a much better warranty, and the great placement flexibility that LCD projectors are known for.
The Panasonic PT-AX100U is definitely a significant increase in cost (say 50% after all rebates), but is also extremely bright. It offers up a totally invisible pixel structure thanks to their "Smooth Screen" technology, however, that results in a bit of softness, making the HC1500 the sharper of the two. You can sit closer to the Panasonic than the Mitsubishi, which is a plus for some who are extremely critical of seeing pixel structure in things like scrolling movie credits and some on-screen signage. The Panasonic is, however, also very film-like, and can produce better black levels on dark scenes. Still, the huge price difference and overall impressive performance of the HC1500, is more than enough to allow a great many to "pocket the difference" or use the significant savings for things like a better screen, better audio, or whatever else is needed, for the best home theater experience that a somewhat limited budget can provide.
Time to summarize the strengths and weaknesses of the HC1500.
Mitsubishi HC1500 projector, Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Mitsubishi HC1500 Projector: Pros
- Overall, excellent performance for a sub-$1000 home theater projector
- Better than average sharpness
- Extremely bright projector (one of the brightest 720p models out there)
- Especially bright in Cinema mode - my 128" screen was not a problem
- Far less visible pixels than any of the LCD projectors (except the more expensive Panasonic PT-AX100U - which produces a softer image)
- Good but not great color balance out of the box (generally a bit "cool"), easily adjustable
- Good menus
- Filter free design, for less maintenance
- Very good manual, with good levels of explanation for most items
- Brilliant Color allows easy enhancement of image, and rich colors
- 12volt screen trigger
- Easy to use
Mitsubishi HC1500 Projector: Cons
- A bit noisy in bright lamp mode, but not overly so (typical DLP projector)
- Limited zoom range
- HDMI 1.2, not 1.3 (only a couple of projectors with 1.3 are currently shipping as of this writing)
- One year parts and labor warranty is shorter than some in this price range
- Backlit buttons on the remote are very dim
- Projector must be unmounted to change the lamp
- Small "main" menu stays on screen until you close it.
- Lack of lens shift (typical of under $2000 DLP projectors)
- Limited placement flexibility
Mitsubishi HC1500 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Lamp Life
- Average noise levels
- Average black levels
- Pixel visibility (for a DLP projector)
- Remote control overall, including layout, and range
- Number and types of inputs
Mitsubishi HC1500 Summary:
Got $999 or less? If you can make the HC1500 work in your room, it's going to be hard to beat. In terms of picture quality, it has the advantage over the Optoma HD70, which is overall, very similar in design, and placement.
Overall, the HC1500 produces an extremely watchable and film-like result, as is typical of good DLP home theater projectors. Even better, it combines its picture quality with extremely bright output. Filling my 128" screen with sufficient brightness, even in best (Cinema) mode, was not a challenge, and as an added bonus, for most people with 110" or smaller screens, they will find that most of the time they will be able to run the projector in low power lamp mode, increasing the usable lamp life, and saving money.
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The sharpness of the HC1500 is also very good, definitely above average among competing DLP projectors. If there is a downside to the HC1500 in terms of image quality, it is the very average black levels and shadow detail. This however is a trade-off. The HC1500 uses a color wheel, with clear segment, which boosts brightness, but costs it, in terms of black levels. For many, this is a perfectly good trade-off.
The combination of low cost, film-like image quality, and lots of brightness, earn the HC1500 our Hot Product Award.
The biggest challenge is whether it will work in your room. If you are planning to ceiling mount, you should have little problem, unless you have unusually low ceilings (less than 8 feet), due to the significant lens offset.
I was extremely impressed with the original HD1000U, the HC1500's predecessor. The two projectors are virtually identical, except for the increase in brightness that the HC1500 home theater projector offers. As of right now (8/07), I count the HC1500 as one of the three brightest sub-$2000 projectors around, only equaled or beat, by two LCD models - the Panasonic PT-AX100U, and the Epson Home Cinema 400. And that's pretty impressive for an under $1000 720p resolution home theater projector.
Like the HD1000U, with the HC1500, Mitsubishi has another winner on its hands, and one that almost certainly will be a top seller!