Mitsubishi HC3800 Projector - Performance
9/28/2009 - Art Feierman
In this section we consider the brightness, sharpness, and image noise of the Mitsubishi HC3800 home theater projector. Also considered are the physical attributes of light leakage and audible noise.
Mitsubishi HC3800 Brightness
Keep in mind, this review is based on the engineering sample that was provided by Mitsubishi. Color tables will likely change somewhat, and measurements will also therefore change, with final production units. Since the HC3800 does calibrate nicely, though, we felt that the results here, will be pretty indicative of a full production projector, even if the settings we report in the calibration section will be different. We will update all our setttings recommendations once we have received a projection projector.
Here's another projector that's extremely bright in its best mode. The HC3800 manages about 950 lumens in it's best mode (Cinema, Medium color temp, Brilliant Color on. That's almost as bright as the more expensive BenQ W6000.
When you need maximum lumens, the HC3800 doesn't have many more in reserve, measuring maximum brightness of 1142 lumens, with gamma mode on Sports, and color temp on medium, but that's still better than the average home theater projector (average is about 1000 lumens for "brightest" mode, and just under 500 lumens for "best" mode.
Lumen Output for various Gamma modes at 100 IRE, color temp on Medium:
Auto= 948 @ 6611
Cinema= 968 @ 6590, 726 @ 6238 w/BC off
Video= 953 @ 6617
Sports= 1142 @ 6352, 880 @ 6154 w/BC off
Lumen Output at various Color Temps at 100 IRE, Gamma on Auto:
Medium= 948 @ 6611
High Brightness= 1091 @ 6143, 1142 @ 6148 on Sports gamma
Cool= 655 @ 8942
Warm= 843 @ 5342
As you can see from the numbers above, turning Brilliant Color off, drops the brightness about 25%.
Since there are tons of lumens for movie viewing, many will take advantage of the quieter low lamp mode, which is plenty bright, and has an extremely long lamp life rating (5000 hours). Low lamp will drop the brightness of the projector by approximately 22%.
Turning Brilliant Color off, and lamp to low, and the Mitsubishi HC3800 projector still manages 565 lumens!
Since the HC3800 projector has a 1.5:1 zoom lens, we measured the difference in brightness betwwen full wide angle, mid-point, and full-telephoto settings on the lens. Full wide angle (the projector filling the screen from its closest distance), increases brightness by a modest 7.5%. Full telephoto decreases brightness by 9.3% compared to the mid-point.
Pre-calibration we measured these color temperatures (target is 6500K) over the grayscale range.
30 IRE – 6513K
50 IRE – 6652K
80 IRE – 6649K
100 IRE – 6556K
The Calibration page will provide the settings we used. That includes basic settings as well as gain and offset. We will revise, with numbers from a production projector when available, if there is a noteworthy difference.
Mitsubishi HC3800 Sharpness
The HC3800 projector is definitely one of the sharper ones out there. In viewing side by side with the lower cost Optoma HD20, the HC3800 was slightly sharper. I would say that it is sharper than most of the 3LCD competition as well, including some of the more expensive ones like the Panasonic and the Epson projectors. In a side by side, the BenQ W6000, has a very slight edge, but it is exceptionally sharp in its own right, as BenQ's have tended to be.
Top left: Mitsubishi HC3800, Top Center, Sanyo PLV-Z3000, Top right: Sony HW15
2nd row left: Panasonic PT-AE3000, middle: Optoma HD8200, right: Vivitek H9080FD (pricey LED source DLP projector)
Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left to right: HC3800, Optoma HD20, BenQ W6000, and Sharp XV-Z15000. I haven't seen any projector do better than the BenQ when it comes to trying to read the type on the on screen menus in this scene, but the Mitsubishi HC3800 is so close as to not matter. By comparison, the Optoma HD20 is visibly soft compared to the other two, and the more expensive Sharp XV-Z15000 (which we commented on it's lens softness, is somewhere in between.
Mitsubishi HC3800: Bottom Line Sharpness
Sharpness is a major strength. Let me put it this way: Once again, I'm jealous. My far more expensive JVC RS20 can't produce as sharp an image, and that projector is more than 5 times the price. I don't really notice when watching movies, but am aware of the diffference with some nice 1080i hi-def sports, and other top quality digital content. Mitsubishi does extremely well, when it comes to sharpness. I doubt any of the ultra-high contrast 3LCD home theater projectors can match the HC3800's sharpness, and that includes Mitsubishi's own HC7000.
This particular HC3800 leaks a fair amount of light out the lens, mostly above it. While it isn't a critical amount, there is enough of it. The InFocus IN83 was another projector with a surprising amount of light through the lens hitting outside of the image area, and we forgave it, too. There is also a small amount coming out of side vents, however, it's not much unless you are right in line with the one spot where you can easily see the light. Since that's not likely, don't worry about it.
It may well be that the amount of light leakage out the front will be dramatically different on a full production unit. This may be something they've already addressed. We will report on that, too, when we get the projection version.
No particular issues to report here, but I'll refer final judgement until I've seen a full production unit. This particular engineering sample definitely has some minor issues, not the least, not relating to image noise. The HDMI input is not perfectly stable, but that's not at all surprising, and it's pretty safe to assume the production version will have that handled. Most of the other inputs don't even work on this unit.
The HC3800 is not a quiet projector. In fact, it's a fairly noisy one. That shouldn't surprise many. First, it's a DLP, and they tend to be noisier, than the other technologies. Then, the HC3800 is a smaller projector, as well, making it tough to baffle the fan noise. Based on this pre-production unit, which isn't, by the way, making any strange sounds, I'd put the noise levels to be no more than 30 db, maybe 31 at the outside, and mid-20's in low power. At full power that will be enough to bother those who are noise adverse. For most of us, we'll rarely notice it, and forget about it soon enough (on those quiet scenes).
For most potential owners, the audible noise should not be a deal breaker. Further, for those quiet movies, you'll probably have more than enough lumens in low power mode, where the projector is nice and quiet, and should offend almost no one.