Mitsubishi HC4900 LCD Home Theater Projector Review: Overview
8-19-2007 - Art Feierman
Check out how the Mitsubishi HC4900 fared in our comparison report.
Click to read the head-to-head Mitsubishi HC4900 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z2000 projector comparison.
Click to read the head-to-head Mitsubishi HC4900 vs. Panasonic PT-AE2000U projector comparison.
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HC4900 Projector Highlights:
- Above average brightness for one of the lower cost 1080p projectors
- Overall, the HC4900 offers truly impressive color handling and flesh tones
- Great placement flexibility, with motorized zoom, focus and lens shift
- Black level performance is not impressive
- $2995 MSRP
Let's start with the basics. Last September, Mitsubishi launched its HC5000 1080p home theater projector. In fact it was the first of the new 1080p projectors we reviewed. One of three popular LCD based 1080p projectors, it turned out to be the most expensive of the three. The other two are the Panasonic PT-AE1000U which started at $3995, but has had a $1000 rebate for quite some time, and the Epson Home Cinema 1080p which came out this Spring, at $2999. Each of the three has strengths and weaknesses, compared to the others (see our 1080p comparison review).
But it's not fun being the most expensive of the threesome, so Mitsubishi's answer is the HC4900 (link to specs), which started shipping a few months ago. At $2995, it is directly price competitive with the Panasonic and Epson.
The image above, is from House of the Flying Daggers. This image, like most images in this review, can be clicked on for a larger version!
The HC4900 looks exactly like the HC5000, and shares virtually all of its features. There are differences, however. Most notably the image processing is different, and the HC4900 has a lower contrast ratio (7500:1 instead of 10,000:1). The most obvious result of this, is that the HC4900 cannot match the black level and shadow detail performance of its more expensive sibling. That said, we'll look and see how well the HC4900 performs, and discuss the value proposition compared to the HC5000 and the HC4900's other competitors.
Of note, the HC4900 is a 3LCD projector. It uses a dynamic iris to enhance black levels, and there are four modes - Iris open, and Auto Iris 1, 2, and 3. I worked almost exclusively with Open, and Auto Iris 1.
Some sections of this review have simply been cut and pasted from the HC5000 review, with only minor changes, such as the Physical Tour section below, descriptions of menus, and so on.
Mitsubishi HC4900 Projector: Basic Specs
Technology: 3LCD front projector
Native Resolution: 1080p (1980x1080)
Brightness: 1000 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.6:1 motorized
Lens shift: Vertical and Horizontal, motorized
Lamp life: 2000 hours full power, 3000 lumens eco-mode
Weight: 12.3 lbs.
Warranty: 2 years Parts and Labor
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Mitsubishi HC4900 Home Theater Projector: Physical Tour
The first thing I better mention is the color of this Mitsubishi projector. The unit I received is finished all in black, which is, I'm told, the standard finish. Mitsubishi however, is also offering, in more limited quantities (special order), a white version HC4900W, for the same price. The white version, which I haven't seen, is supposed to have black trim around the lens.
Starting from the front, the 1.6:1 motorized zoom lens is offset to the right (if you are facing the projector). To fill a 100" diagaonal 16:9 screen, you may place the front of the projector as close as 10 feet 3 inches and as far back as 16 feet 5 inches, providing plenty of placement flexibility.There are two drop down feet, at the left and right bottom of the projector. There is also an infrared sensor, near the left foot.
Moving to the top, you will find the control panel.
There, you will find a larger button for power, and to its right eight buttons some doing double duty. In the middle of the cluster is the Enter button surrounded by the four arrow key buttons. The left arrow button doubles to select between HDMI and DVI inputs, the right arrow button toggles between video sources. There is also a Menu button (bottom left). On the top right is a button to adjust lens shift, and bottom right one for zoom and focus.
On the left side of the projector (looking from the rear) you will find the air filter (the manual suggests cleaning about once a month), and on the right side, the door for the lamp system. As a result, those ceiling mounting, will not need to unmount the projector to change the lamp, unlike many home theater projectors with the lamp door on the bottom of the projector.
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On the back of the projector is the input panel. The HC4900 offers two digital inputs; one DVI-D and one HDMI. In addition there are three RCA jacks for one component video input. An HD15 connector for a computer is also available. That can alternately be used as a second component video input if you don't need to hook up a computer. Of course, you'll find the standard composite video and S-video connections as well. The HC4900 also has a 12 volt trigger allowing a properly equipped motorized screen to be controlled from the remote. Lastly there is the power connector, and a rear infrared sensor for the remote.
Overall the HC4900 is a fairly attractive projector. The black finish should work for most people placing the projector in their theaters (which hopefully have dark ceilings). For those with white ceilings, remember a white version of the HC4900 is available.
Of course image quality, is what interests most of you, and it's time to consider how the Mitsubishi HC4900 home theater projector looks, doing its thing.