Mitsubishi HC3800 Projector - Physical Tour
9/28/2009 - Art Feierman
Mitsubishi HC3800 Projector - Appearance
In a shiny black case, the HC3800 is a bit cute, but nothing spectacular to look at. Size wise, it's fairly small, although larger than the smallest DLP projectors like the Optoma HD20. On the other hand, it's definitely a size smaller than the Epson or Panasonic LCD projectors. Let's call it a larger, small projector.
The recessed manual zoom lens is offset to the right (if you are facing the front of the projector). The lens is focused from the lens ring, at the top, and the zoom adjustment is just behind the focus on the top of the projector. There's nothing else on the front, but for the front infra-red sensor for the remote control. Two screw thread adjustable feet are found on the bottom, almost all the way to the outside, by the front. For those placing on a table, the rear foot is fixed and in the center, for a sturdy 3 point stance.
The control panel is located on the top, by the back, and the inputs run across the back of the projector. The venting is on the sides.
HC3800 Control Panel
The Mitsubishi HC3800 control panel is a pretty straightforward affair. Navigation buttons for the up/down/left/right arrows are on the left side, in a diamond layout, with the Enter button further to the right. Further two the right are the Menu and Power buttons, along with a pair of indicator lights. Three of the four arrow keys, take on a different use, when not in the menus. The up arrow handles the Mitsubishi's Auto Position (primarily for computer), the left arrow toggles between computer and HDMI sources, and the right arrow toggles between the three video sources.
Strangely, while otherwise well equipped, the HC3800 has only one HDMI input. In this day and age, 2 HDMI inputs is pretty much standard (or maybe an HDMI and a DVI or M connector, but ultimately we're talking two digital inputs as the current standard practice. If you don't have an AV receiver with HDMI switching, you'll probably need to spend $40 or more for an HDMI switcher, if you have two or more HDMI sources (who doesn't)?
The HC3800 has an RS232 port for "command and control" by computers, room control systems, etc. There's also a 12 volt screen trigger. Then we get to the actual inputs, which consist of a composite video, S-video, and component video (the usual 3 color coded RCA jacks for component video). In addition there's a standard analog computer input (the usual HD15 connector). That input can be used for an analog computer signal, or as a second component video inputs. Finally, on the far right, is the single HDMI 1.3 input.
Mitsubishi HC3800 Remote Control
Not a stellar remote, not a bad one. This remote control is about average size, and is fully backlit. The problem is, that the backlight is very dim. I find I have to put it right in front of my face and squint to make out the symbols and text on the backlit buttons, due to the dimmness. Still, I guess that's better than no backlight at all.
There is no backlight button. Pressing any key will cause them all to light up. Range of the remote is about average, or a little better. I can get a decent bounce off of my large screen, which is more than I can say for more than half the projector remotes I get to use. (That's about a 26 foot round trip.)
The layout is fairly typical. At the top, however, there are both On and Off buttons. The Off button still requires the usual two presses to power down. Also on the top row is the Aspect ratio button.
The next two rows provide direct access buttons to each of the 6 inputs (sources). The row after that provides direct access to each of the 3 user savable memory areas.
Below all those buttons, in the middle are the navigation buttons with the four arrows in a circular layout, and the Enter button in the center. Below to the left, is the Menu button, and to the right an access button to the color management system.
That takes us to the last two rows, which offer direct access to six of the most common image controls: Contrast, Brightness, Color Temp, Gamma, Sharpness, and Color (saturation).
That covers the remote. It's functional, it's well laid out, it's got respectable range. It really is a shame that the backlight is so dim, or this would have to be considered an especially good remote control, but considering the backlight, I'll just call it a decent remote.
Mitsubishi HC3800 Lens Throw
The 1.5:1 zoom will let you place the front of the projector as close as 11 feet 1 inch from a 100 inch diagonal, 16:9 screen. Or, the HC3800 can be placed as far back as 16 feet, 5 inches from the same sized screen, and of course, anywhere in between. These numbers are based on preliminary specs but should prove to be accurate within an inch or so.
No lens shift for the Mitsubishi HC3800, but that's hardly a surprise for an entry level 1080p DLP projector. The lens offset is significant, though not as great as a lot of DLP home theater projectors over the years. For the usual 100" diagonal, 16:9 screen, the center of the lens needs to be 16.53 inches above the top of the scren surface, or, if on a table or low shelf, 16.53 inches below the bottom of the screen surface.
With that much lens offset, a number of folks will find they can't use this projector with larger screens (110" diagonal and larger) in rooms with 8 foot or lower ceilings, or at the least, it will be a close thing.
Consider: 8 foot ceiling, 120 inch diagonal screen: Assume the projector is mounted very close to the ceiling, with a drop of 10 inches from ceiling to center of lens. Then, for the 120" screen, the lens offset is just less than 20 inches. The screen height is about 59 inches. Bottom line: 96 inches (ceiling) - 10, -20, -59 = 7 inches - the bottom of the screen would be just over 7 inches off the floor. That much offset is handy for placing a projector on a table below screen height, but is a challenge in those lower height ceilings.
The Mitsubishi HC3800 does support an anamorphic lens. Better still, the HC3800 has support for what Mitsubishi calls Anamorphic Lens Modes 1 and 2.
What is especially nice about the HC3800, is that you can choose to go with an anamorphic lens, but not need the usual motorized sled to move it in front of the regular lens when you want 2.35:1, and out of the way, for everything else.
The first mode provides the usual required aspect ratio for working with an anamorphic lens for 2.35:1 viewing. The second mode, though, assumes that the anamorphic lens remains in front of the lens for 16:9 and 4:3 viewing, and this mode essentially provides the right adjustments to provide the right aspect ratios for those shapes.
For those sold on 2.35:1 without letterboxing, and expected to pay $3000 - $4000+ for an anamorphic lens and sled, this capability should save you about half of that!
Mind you, when viewing 16:9, you will no longer have 1:1 pixel mapping, which is preferred, but that should add only the slightest softness, and won't bother many. Anyone using an anamorphic lens has already given up 1:1 pixel mapping for those Cinemascope movies!