Mitsubishi HC3800 - Competitors
How does the Mitsubishi HC3800 compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market?
9/28/2009 - Art Feierman
This section compares the Mitsubishi HC3800 home theater projector to the competition. You will find our impressions of the HC3800 relative to existing projectors we have reviewed, and a couple that are about to ship, but not yet reviewed.
HC3800 vs. Epson Home Cinema 8100 and Home Cinema 8500UB
The Home Cinema 8500UB really isn't direct competition to the HC3800 projector. It is anticipated to sell for about twice the price and really is a higher performance projector, overall. The dramatic difference in black level performance really does make the Epson a better picture. And, the Epson also offers Creative Frame Interpolation, and other goodies, while, by comparison, the HC3800 is a pretty basic projector.
A far more interesting comparison is the Mitsubishi HC3800 against Epson's Home Cinema 8100. I must confess, despite really liking the HC3800, I had expected, that when it came in, I would find the Epson to be the one I liked better. Of course one will be better for some folks and the other may be better for the rest.
Ultimately, though, I found the HC3800's picture quality to be preferred, with better skin tones, and an overall richer color. It is also much brighter when comparing best modes.
There really is no significant difference in black level performance, despite drastically different contrast claims. The Epson claims 36,000:1 and the HC3800 only 4000:1. The Epson relies on a dynamic iris for the extra contrast, and the 8100 extended the range of the iris in this projector. The thing is, however, in most fairly dark scenes, and mixed scenes, the Mitsubishi actually has the slightly blacker blacks. In scenes that are all dark with no signficant bright or moderate areas, that's when the Epson can get blacker than the Mitsubishi HC3800 projector. Those scenes, however are fairly rare, so overall I give the edge to the HC3800.
The Epson's key strengths are the extra brightness in "brightest" mode (Dynamic), far superior placement flexibility and a slightly better warranty. For photos comparing brightness see this same section, in the Home Cinema 8100 review.
If you need the lumens, the Epson really does a good job. There's nothing wrong with its color accuracy, or skin tones, the Mitsubishi though just impresses a touch more in picture. Both possess a lot of pop and wow!
Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. Mitsubishi HC5500, HC6800
The HC3800 replaced the HC5500, however, they are markedly different projectors. The old HC5500 was a 3LCD projector, while the HC3800 is DLP. The HC5500 cost about the same as the HC3800, at its lowest pricing with rebates. Picture quality - no comparison, as the HC3800 has better blacks and richer skin tones, and really has more pizzazz, overall. The older Mitsubishi was probably quieter, and the two aren't too different in terms of brightness. All considered: No contest, while the HC5500 was a nice projector and a good value, but Mitsubishi has a really hot product in the form of the HC3800.
The more expensive HC6800 I haven't seen as of this writing. It is a 3LCD projector, with more placement flexibility than the HC3800, and as a successor to the HC6500 it should be an impressive one. I liked the HC6500 but it was a bit pricey. The HC6800 is more competitively priced, should be quiet, similarly bright (that's a real guess), and have slightly better black level performance. I should be reviewing in the next couple of weeks. We shall see.
Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z700
Last year, we considered the PLV-Z700 and the Mitsubishi HC5500 to be two of the most direct competitors around. They were the two least expensive 1080p projectors, both were 3LCD, but were rather different considering that.
Last year, the Sanyo had the placement flexibility advantage. This year, they still have it over the HC3800, even with the HC3800 having a longer range zoom (1.5:1) than the older HC5500 (1.2:1). Still from a placement flexibility standpoint, the Sanyo has the real advantage, as it also has vertical and horiztonal lens shift, allowing it to be shelf mounted.
The Sanyo PLV-Z700 was a bit dissapointing in terms of black level performance, despite a dynamic iris. Since I considered the HC5500 to be better (slightly) at blacks, the HC3800 should do a little better still, compared to the PLV-Z700.
I always liked the PLV-Z700 for movie watching, however, the picture just looked particularly good. In that regard, both projectors are very good for the movie enthusiast.
Warranties: Three years on the Sanyo, two on the Mitsubishi.
Tough call, overall, for movie watching, but the HC3800 is brighter in both "best" and "brightest" modes. Rainbows, placement, and warranty issues notwithstanding, I have to favor the Mitsubishi HC3800 projector.
Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. BenQ W6000
This is too easy. Just think of the HC3800 as a "poor man's" BenQ W6000. The HC3800 is barely more than half the price. It lacks a dynamic iris (the W6000 has one - though not the smoothest), and overall the W6000 is a real step up in black level performance.
Both are very good at having that DLP look and feel, with rich deep colors, and very good skin tones. The two projectors side by side, are basically very similar in terms of screen image, but the BenQ W6000 definitely has the advantage. Both are very bright in "best" mode, and above average in brightness in brightest mode, but, again, the BenQ W6000 has a significant advantage.
The BenQ W6000, however comes with only a one year warranty.
Consider the W6000 to the the step up DLP projector for those willing to spend $1000+ more. As nice as the HC3800 is, the BenQ is worth the difference. I can't think of any reasons, other than cost, or warranty that favor the Mitsubishi. They are two similar projectors overall, one simply is a more expensive unit with more performance.
Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. Sharp XV-Z15000
This is a tough one. I really would have liked to have had both projectors here for a side by side comparsion. Again, we are looking at two DLP projectors, both with especially good color and skin tones.
The Sharp XV-Z15000 definitely has the advantage in black levels. It does particularly well in this regard. While I can't be certain, it's likely that if you turned off the Sharp's dynamic iris, the Sharp and the HC3800 would have similar black level performance. But, the Sharp does have the dynamic iris, and the better black levels.
There are lots of trade-offs though. The Mitsubishi HC3800 has the sharper image of the two, or rather, they are similar at the point where you focus, but the further you move from that point, the more difference. The Sharp's sharpness, (did I really write that), rolls off faster to the sides and corners. Overall, the HC3800 will look a touch sharper.
Currently there seems to be about a $500 - $600 price differential.
HC3800 vs. Optoma HD20
This is perhaps the comparison of interest to the most people. Both are DLP 1080p projectors, but the Optoma is down at $999, and everyone seems to want to know if the HC3800 is worth the difference. My take is yes, if you've got the bucks, go for it. The Optoma does just fine, but isn't as refined. First of all it's a noisy projector, even compared tot he HC3800 which isn't particularly quiet. It also seems to throw a lot of heat (it's very small even compared to the HC3800). It also leaks light out the front, although not enough to be a big problem. Black levels are not as good as the HC3800 either, but the HD20 is very good on shadow details, at least as good as the HC3800.
Ultimately, picture quality is similar, but the HC3800 has the advantage, thanks to the black levels. The Mitsubishi has more placement flexibility
Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. BenQ W1000
Sorry, still no BenQ W1000 released yet...
Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. Panasonic PT-AE3000
Ahh! Very interesting, but the PT-AE3000 is pretty much history, and the PT-AE4000 is coming soon, but not reviewed. Fundamentally, although the PT-AE4000 is improved, both old and new share the same differences with the HC3800. The Panasonic projectors are 3LCD. They will definitely have a softer image, in part because the HC3800 is a very sharp DLP, and partially because Panasonic uses their SmoothScreen Technology, to make pixels essentially invisible, but sharpness while respectable is a little soft by comparison to the HC3800.
I describe the Panasonic as rather film-like, but it's got nothing on the HC3800 in that regard. Where the real difference is, is the black levels. They are a definite step up (to the AE3000) and likely more to the AE4000. It's enough difference to really matter. As a bonus, the Panasonic has creative frame interpolation, and their Lens Memory feature for those that want to go with 2.35:1 screens for no letterboxing on Cinemascope movies.
Placement flexibility also favors the Panasonic. But the older Panasonic isn't a match for the Mitsubishi HC3800 projector, which has almost twice the lumens in best mode. The newer Panasonic is reported to be brighter, but still short of the HC3800.
Movie fanatics likely will favor the Panasonic thanks to the black level performance, but the Panasonic has nothing on the HC3800 when it comes to other aspects of picture quality including skin tones, and overall color handling. The Panasonic, though, is a feature laden projector, more bells and whistles than almost anything else around. Hard to resist.
The PT-AE4000 launches at $1999 in the US, and will likely street price for $500 - $600 more. I should be reviewing it in a few weeks of this writing. For my take on how it stacks up to this Mitsubishi projector, check the competitive section of that review.