Home Theater Projector Reviews:
Mitsubishi HC4900 DLP Projector:
Summary, Pros, Cons
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.
View our annual winners.
For those of you not familiar with our Hot Product Award, here's the concept. Our Hot Product Award is not designed to be awarded only to the best projector out there. That's a good thing, because, there really isn't a single best projector - one that would be the best for all folks shopping, in a price range.
Instead, the award is given out to projectors that, due to their overall design and performance, are likely to be the best projector choice for at least a significant number of home theater projector buyers. For example, one projector may have the best overall image quality, but isn't bright enough for larger screens. It may win the award, because many buyers, aren't looking for the larger screen sizes. Another projector may be bright enough for the larger screens, and, in fact be the best for them, so, even if its image quality is only very good, not the best, it too, could win the award. Then there are also some great performing projectors (especially DLP projectors) that almost everyone would love, but design limitations in terms of placement flexibility, mean that only a small percentage of potential buyers, can use it in their room. It too likely would win the award. As a result, any winner of our Hot Product Award, will be a projector which is the best choice for at least a small, but significant number of end users. Historically, for that reason, about 60% of all home theater projectors we review, receive the reward.
In the case of the HC4900 (link to specs), it's obvious, that it is not the best under $5000 1080p projector, because, if nothing else, its big brother, the Mitsubishi HC5000 is better. Still, the HC4900 has appeal, because it sells for barely 2/3 as much as the HC5000.
The HC4900 has a great deal going for it, and it does win our award, because, compared to the closest competition, it has performance that will cause many to choose it as their best choice.
The Mitsubishi HC4900 has the advantage of best in class sharpness, well better than average brightness in best modes, very good placement flexibility (not the best, but probably works for 95% of potential buyers), and, what's really important - movies, TV/HDTV, and sports, look great, natural, and provide a superior viewing experience. That's especially true for a 1080p projector at its sub-$3000 price point.
That said, the HC4900 isn't the ultimate in image quality, and so, the hard core perfectionist will likely choose something else, but it is a serious contender for the bulk of those looking for an affordable 1080p projector for their home theater.
Mitsubishi HC4900 projector, Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Mitsubishi HC4900 Projector: Pros
- Superb sharpness
- Quietest home theater projector we have ever seen (or heard)
- Better than average brightness in "best" mode (Cinema)
- Average brightness in "brightest" mode
- After minor "tweaking" produces an extremely watchable image, overall, and in terms of skin tones
- Out of the box color balance is good, better than many
- Excellent gamma, in part responsible for suprisingly good shadow detail
- Good menu system
- Good warranty
- Very good manual, with good levels of explanation for most items
- Two digital inputs (one DVI, one HDMI)
- Focus, zoom, and lens shift are all powered, and controlled by the remote
- Easy to use, full featured
- Overall, good price performance
Mitsubishi HC4900 Projector: Cons
- Black levels are very so-so, better than a typical DLP with Darkchip2, but not up to the HC5000, or most of the other 1080p competition
- HDMI 1.2, not 1.3 (only a couple of projectors with 1.3 are currently shipping as of this writing)
- Pixel visibility is worst of the 1080p projectors, but it still isn't an issue at normal seating distances. If you like to sit very close, though, you may notice it
- Remote Control's backlight is dim, which I found annoying in a dark room
- Small "main" menu stays on screen until you close it.
- Although good placement flexibility, not as good as other LCD 1080p models
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Mitsubishi HC4900 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Lamp Life
- Pixel visibility (for a DLP projector)
- Remote control overall, including layout, and range
- Number and types of inputs
- Remote Control's layout
Mitsubishi HC4900 Summary:
It's going to be a tough call, if you are shopping for an under $3000 1080p projector. Here's how they stack up:
The HC4900 has the brightness advantage for movie watching over the other two LCD projectors, and, most likely, also against the Optoma HD80 (DLP) that we haven't reviewed yet. Most notably it is dramatically brighter than the Panasonic PT-AE1000U, which as the most film-like image of the 3 LCD based home theater projectors.
While the Panasonic might be more film like, the Mitsubishi is not only much brighter, but also much sharper, and it does it without the slightly "hard" image that I have used to describe the Epson Home Cinema 1080.
If you need maximum horsepower (lumens) in brightest mode, the Epson has the real advantage, but, overall, I favor the Mitsubishi in terms of picture quality.
What bothers me is the black levels. If they were better, (yes, if they were better, they would be the HC5000 and be $1500 more), I'd have to pick the HC4900 as the best of the sub-$3000 models. But since black levels leave much to be desired, the HC4900 simply remains a very good choice.
You, the buyer will have to make the call. If you choose the right type of screen (see my comments in the General Performance page), and especially if it is a 110" or larger, the blacks can be well controlled, and the HC4900 may well be the best choice for many.
I have a hard time, on the other hand, with using the HC4900 for movie watching on a screen under 100" diagonal, even with a high contrast gray surface. The problem is, the projector is bright enough, that on smaller screen sizes, you won't be able to get black levels to be dark enough.
It will be interesting to see how the 4th under $3000 projector compares. Optoma's HD80 has extremely limited placement flexibility, but should have a very good image. It won't shelf mount (which the HC4900 has no problem with), and even ceiling mounting, only as a 2-3 foot placement range, so a great many buyers can't use the HD80. The question is, which is preferred, if placement is not an issue.
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We hope to have the HD80 in for review, and review posted within a month of this writing. Meantime, as you can see from the above, the HC4900 is a serious contender, with much brighter capability than the Panasonic, and, in my opinion, a more perfect picture quality than the Epson.
I must repeat this. If you choose the HC4900, pay great attention to your screen choice. To get the most out of this fine, yet affordable, Mitsubishi projector, you do need the right projector screen.
Congratulations to Mitsubishi, on the HC4900, and its earning of our Hot Product Award.
That said, life would have been better still, if Mitsubishi didn't build the HC4900, and instead brought the HC5000 within a few hundred of the HC4900's price. Of course, life isn't normally that convenient.