Mitsubishi HC1600 Home Theater Projector Review: General Performance
There is a great deal of information in this section, about the HC1600 (link to specs) projector. These links will allow you to quickly get to any topics of interest to you.
Mitsubishi HC1600 Menus
Mitsubishi HC1600 User Memory Settings
HC1600 Remote Control
Lens Throw and Lens Shift, Pixel Structure...
SDE and Rainbow Effect
Mitsubishi HC1600 Projector Brightness
Mitsubishi HC1600 Light Leakage
Mitsubishi HC1600 Audible Noise Levels
HC1600 Projector Screen Recommendations
No surprises here. The Mitsubishi HC1600 menus are virtually identical to the older HC1500. Hitting the Menu button brings up a row of small graphic icons for the main menus. Highlighting one tells you what it is. Arrow keys let you select the one you want, then, to enter that main menu, just hit Enter, or the down arrow. To leave a main menu, you can scroll back up to the icon at the top, and then scroll left or right to a different main menu.
The Menus can be positioned in several different locations on the screen. They stay on until you turn them off.
HC1600 User Memory Settings
Overall, the Mitsubishi HC1600 has three user savable memory areas (they refer to them as AV Memory). In addition, there are separate user savable areas for gamma, and color temperature. All considered, that should handle the needs of most - rather easily.
HC1600 Projector: Remote Control
Mitsubishi has made some changes to the remote. It is similar in size to the older HC1500's remote control, and nicer in some ways, and not so nice in one other way.
The good news is that Mitsubishi moved the navigation buttons down a bit, breaking up the number of small buttons, so that some are above, some below. The point is, it's no longer four rows of three buttons at the bottom. This makes it easier to remember what buttons are where, and to access them without having to look.
That's a very good thing, since this newer remote lacks the backlight of the older projector's remote, (which, of course, is not a good thing)!
The HC1600's remote has separate On, and Off buttons at the top (Off is labeled standby). Below those, are five buttons for source selection.
Then comes a nice space, with two buttons; one for Keystone, one for Auto Position (which is used to lock in a computer signal, in case the projector "missed" the first time around).
Three more buttons below those, for calling up the three User definable Memory settings.
Then comes the arrow keys, with centered Enter button.
And slightly below that, my next complaint: On the left, is the Menu button, and it is an incredibly small round button. There's a matching sized button on the right, for toggling between aspect ratios.
Finally, five larger buttons below those, which allow you to access settings for Contrast, Brightness, Color Temperature, Gamma, and Sharpness.
I'm thinking that Mitsubishi would have done better to skip one of those - probably Sharpness, and replaced it with access to the Brilliant Color menu, since people rarely fiddle with a sharpness control.
HC1600 Lens Throw and Lens Shift
A classic DLP home theater projector! I say that in regards to lens attributes. Like most DLP home theater projectors, the Mitsubishi HC1600 has only a 1.2:1 zoom lens. That means that to fill a 100" digaonal, 16:9 screen, the projector (measured from the front of the lens, to the screen surface), can be placed as close as 11.9 feet, or as far back as 14.5 feet.
Review continues below this advertisement:
The HC1600 home theater projector has no vertical, or horizontal lens shift. The fixed lens shift is pretty signficant, requiring the projector (measured from the center of the lens), to be 16.5 inches above the top of the screen surface, for a 100" diagonal screen. That's great for those with 9 and 10 foot ceilings, as the projector won't have to hang down as far as some others, but, typically makes the projector impractical in low ceiling rooms, typically basements, where, you may only have a seven foot ceiling, Even with the closest to the ceiling mounting (about 7 or 8 inches), the bottom of your screen (for 100" diagonal), is going to be only about one foot off the floor. An eight foot ceiling works just fine. I should note, however, that this will be a problem for those with standard eight foot ceilings, who want a larger than 100" screen.
HC1600 SDE and Rainbow Effect, Pixel Visibility
As a 720p resolution projector, the Mitsubishi HC1600 has larger pixels than 1080p projectors. Fortunately, the HC1600 is a DLP projector, which means a less visible pixel structure than found with 3LCD projectors.
To keep pixel visibility (and screen door effect) to a minimum, we recommend that one sit at least 12 feet back from a 100" diagonal screen. You will still see some pixel structure on things like credits at the end of a movie, or in the overlayed graphics for scores and information, that typically appear on sporting events. Overall, though, it's every bit as good, in this regard as any other 720p projector, with the exception of the Panasonic PT-AX200U, a 3LCD projector that uses Panasonic's SmoothScreen technology, to make pixel structure invisible at any normal seating distance, but pays a price, in the form of a slightly soft image.
The really big issue here, is with Rainbow Effect - caused by the spinning color wheel. This only affects a small percentage of the population, but, all considered, the slow 2x wheel, makes the rainbow effect more noticeable to those who barely notice it, and likely means that folks that don't see it on other DLP projectors, may, on this one. Most projectors these days, have at least 3x, or 4x even on entry level home theater DLP projectors, and 5x wheels are pretty standard on 1080p projectors.
Bottom line, regarding the Rainbow Effect: The different color wheel (compared to the HC1500), provides more lumens of brightness, but may cost Mitsubishi some sales from buyers who might not have an issue with the older projector, or competing models with faster color wheels. Keep this in mind: Even if you don't see the rainbow effect, one or two of your friends might. Don't sweat it too much, though - I'm sensitive to rainbows, and see them occasionally, as do others, when bright white objects move quickly against a dark background. I've owned a number of DLP projectors with 4x and 5x wheels, and enjoyed them thoroughly despite the occasional flash of rainbow.
HC1600 Projector Brightness
Like the older HC1500, the HC1600 is defintely a player, when it comes to brightness. True, that with Brilliant Color turned off, the brightness is slightly above average - when the lamp is at full power, and set for Cinema, the HC1600 produces just over 500 lumens. Setting Brilliant Color to 5, increases that to 838 lumens. Five is about as high as one can set Brilliant Color, without some noticeably detrimental effect.
Here are the different lumen outputs for different color modes (Brilliant Color at 0):
Medium= 514 lumens @ 6182K
High Brightness= 835 lumens @ 8287K
Cool= 493 lumens @ 8668K
Warm= 499 lumens @ 5723K
If you switch the lamp into eco-mode (low power), brightness drops from 514 to 389 lumens in Medium. Expect the same, roughly 25% drop in lumens, when using eco-mode, for any of the various settings.
When you need lots of lumens, you can crank up Brilliant Color all the way. Brilliant Color affects many aspects of the image, and a setting of 10 is "over the top". When you need those lumens, for some lights on, or a window without shades in the daytime, though, you'll appreciate the lumens, and since the ambient lighting is already not great for viewing, you won't notice the issues. Doing so, however makes the projector extremely bright, and fairly competitive with The Panasonic PT-AX200U and Epson Home Cinema 720, as well as the Optoma HD71. It gives the HC1600 the brightness advantage over the directly competing HD65, though not by much.
The maximum measured brightness was 2094 lumens (Brilliant Color on 10, mode on High Brightness, Gamma on Sports). That's a lot of lumens for a home theater projector.
Generally, going from a 0 setting for Brilliant Color, to one of 10, results in roughly a 2x - 2.5 increase in brightness. It also causes a color temperature shift, with the result being a higher color temp (less reds, more blues).
Personally, if you need some extra brightness for movie watching, I would recommend keeping Brilliant Color under 5, preferably 2 or 3. For most other viewing 5 is probably very acceptable to most folks.
Bottom line: Lots of variation in brightness, depending on the modes and Brilliant Color settings you choose. Most importantly, though, even with Brilliant Color off, (the best color performance), this projector still cranks out a healthy 500 lumens in "best mode" - which is a little better than most.
HC1600 Projector - Light Leakage
Once again, the HC1600 seems very similar to the HC1500. No doubt about it, the Mitsubishi HC1600 leaks light through the lens. It's not much, and not even, and like its predecessor, seems to be a little worse in the top right (beyond the screen).
Most importantly, though, I would not consider this a real problem. If you have a white wall, you are unlikely to notice it while actually watching content, even with a very dark scene, but it is definitely there, if you are looking for it. You'll also note a sort of dark mask right around the 1280x720 area. This is normal for many DLP projectors. It's darker than even the black levels, so, it's an "interesting" artifact, but of no real importance.
Bottom line: Light leakage is not enough to detract from performance, although, for those bugged by such things, and those with white walls, be forewarned.
HC1600 Audible Noise Levels
The HC1600 is supposed to be quieter than the HC1500. Of course it's been a long time since I had an HC1500 here. Mitsubishi claims 25 db in eco-mode (low lamp), while I believe they claimed 31 db on the HC1500 - but in full power. I've been watching the HC1600 only in full power, and it seems to be just on the low side of a typical DLP when it comes to noise. In the few minutes I spent in low power, I was impressed. It was quieter than most other projectors in low power, but no match for the very quietest (which are probably the Mitsubishi HC5500/HC6000 - their 1080p 3LCD projectors).
As one sort of a benchmark that I am using, when in my testing room doing the photo shoot, I could definitely hear the HC1600. I don't run audio when doing the photos. More significantly, though, even in high power, the HC1600 is definitely quieter than my Sony PS3, which I have in both rooms that I use.
Bottom Line: Definitely reasonably quiet. No issue in low power, but in high power, those mounting it right over their heads, those eternally vigilant, looking for the slightest flaws, and of course, the small group that is really obsessed with any noise, may take issue.
HC1600 Projector Screen Recommendations
Well, black levels leave much to be desired in this projector, and since lumens are in no short supply, I definitely would recommend a high contrast gray type surface over a white one. It will lower down the black levels, which will definitely help, especially since the letterbox areas can get a little bright. If however, you are planning on a large screen - say larger than 110" diagonal (I'm assuming you have enough ceiling height for that to work), your lumens will be spread out over a larger area, and therefore the black issue is less significant. Still, think HC Gray!
Who's got the screen you need? Almost everyone makes hi-contrast gray screen surfaces. The Stewart Firehawk may be the "industry standard", but since even a 100" fixed wall Firehawk costs notably more than the Mitsubishi, I seriously doubt anyone will pair them up.
For lower cost solutions, consider hi-contrast gray surfaces, from Elite (great prices), Da-lite (has two different HC gray surfaces, including their HC Cinema Vision, I really like that Cinema Vision with its 1.1 gain). Carada has one too, although I've never worked with it. Theirs has a lower gain than most, which would be a real plus for those really trying to tame black level performance. I swear by Carada's Brilliant White, which I use in my testing room as my primary. It's well constructed and performs almost as well as Stewart's StudioTek 130, which is the standard in white surface screens. BTW, Carada is about fixed wall screens - if you are looking for pull-down or motorized, again, consider one of the other brands.
Projector Review continues below this advertisement
Two more of note, these brands offer HC gray screens, and are also affordable: Grandview and Draper. Of the brands I've mentioned, after the very expensive Stewart Filmscreen products, Da-lite is much more affordable, and slightly more - typically than Draper. I'm not too on top of the others, price wise, but Elite is problably the least expensive, with Grandview probably slightly higher.
HC1600 Projector Measurements and Calibration
First, we found these to be the best general settings:
Color Temp = Medium (used as the basis for the R,G,B adjustments below)
Brilliant Color = 0
With lamp at full power, for "best" performance, these R,G,B settings were used, and placed in Color Temp's User 1 area. You can't change R,G,B settings from the Warm/Cool/Medium and High Brightness modes, but you can use any of those four as the basis for the changes. In this case, we set it to use the Medium as the starting point:
Contrast: R=5, G=2, B=-3
Brightness: R=-3, G=4, B=5
This gives you the best overall color balance in targeting the ideal 6500K. Overall, the end result isn't the smoothest, or tightest set of color temperatures around, in fact a bit more fluctuation than most projectors, but the overall results were pretty good, when it comes to kicking back and enjoying a movie.
With those settings in place, and Brilliant Color set to 0, we also adjusted the Gamma (in its User area) to the following (for R, G, and B): High=-5, Medium=-3, Low=-3
The end result of all these settings, is a good, but as noted, slightly uneven temperature range, centered around the ideal 6500K
White (100 IRE): 6383K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6525K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6420K
Low gray (30 IRE): 6800K
It's hard to do better as the projector, unlike many others in default modes, bounces up and down as you go from white to very dark gray. Most projectors tend to have a steady tilt, with the color temperature either rising or dropping as you go from white to very dark gray - those are easier to get more accurate.
When Mike did the calibration he also did a "quick" calibrate for the same setup (Medium color temp, and gamma on Auto), but with Brilliant Color on 5. Since the projector seems to have a cooler image as the Brilliant Color setting goes up (less red), he came up with these slight changes for those using the Brilliant Color, at 5:
He increased Red Contrast to 9, and decreased Red Brightness to -12. With these settings, lumen output, as noted earlier, jumps from low 500's to 838 lumens! The measured color temp for white is almost dead on the money, at 6570K.
Mike did not do a separate calibration with Brilliant Color on 10. No doubt it will be a little different, but then, under the lighting conditions you would need 10 for, it's unlikely that you would care about the level of shift in color temp.
HC1600 Image Noise
All projectors have some image noise, noticeable if you look hard at content that is mostly unchanging. DLP projectors seem to have a bit more than 3LCD based projectors. In the case of the HC1600, image noise was very good overall, and slghtly better, I would say than most competing DLP projectors, but no better than any of the 3LCD models.
Overall, the HC1600 did pretty well on motion artifact tests from the HQV test discs.
Bottom line: Image noise is very minor, and not enough to be an issue for the vast majority who are considering an entry level projector for their home.