Mitsubishi HC5000BL Projector Review - Overview
10/25/06 - Art Feierman
Of the half dozen newly announced "affordable" 1080p projectors (under $10,000 list price), this is the least expensive, and the first one in to us for review. As a result, we can't reasonably compare the HC5000BL (link to specs) against our experiences with other competing 1080p projectors. Still, the performance for overall image quality, out of the box color accuracy, black levels, shadow detail, features, etc., are well known from lower resolution 720p projectors. The higher resolution of the HC5000BL is a given. We therefore expect this $4495 projector to perform competitively with lower cost, lower resolution home theater projectors, in the areas mentioned above. Like all the other affordable 1080p projectors announced at CEDIA, the Mitsubishi HC5000BL is not exceptionally bright, but would be rather average compared to most 720p projectors, and no match in brightness for "light cannons", like the new 720p Panasonic PT-AX100U or Epson Cinema series projectors. This Mitsubishi, like the 720p projectors just mentioned, are all LCD driven, not DLP.
The HC5000BL, being "powered" by 3LCD technology, has one huge advantage over the lower resolution LCD home theater projectors, and that is in terms of pixel visibility. With 1080p (1920x1080) resolution, there are 2.25 times as many pixels in use to deliver the image. This means significantly smaller pixels, and more importantly, means you can sit significantly closer (by about 1/3), than with an LCD 720p (1280x720) resolution projector, and have the same level of pixel visibility. Note, the exception is the Panasonic PT-AX100U that we recently reviewed. Panasonic uses their Smooth Screen technology to make pixels far less visible than with competing 720p LCD projectors (or DLP models for that matter). The Panasonic, however, pays a small price in sharpness, to pull that off. Add to that, the inherently sharper image you can expect from an 1080p projector, and the difference in sharpness while viewing is significant.
Our initial impressions of the HC5000BL, confirm much of what we anticipated. It produces a very sharp image, with almost no pixel visibility, at distances that, with most 720p projectors would simply be too close to enjoy a razor sharp image. It definitely helps to have hi-res HD content, be it HD-DVD, Blu-Ray, or HDTV sources, but you can appreciate an increase in sharpness on standard DVDs as well.
After much viewing of the HC5000BL, we are pleased to grant it our Hot Product Award. For those of you not familiar, instead of giving out a 4 or 5 star rating (try to find a review of a projector anywhere, that ever got an overall rating below 4), we specify what it is about the projector that rates it a Hot Product. Thus, a projector may not be a great choice for 75% of the buyers out there shopping in its price range, but it may perform in such a way, that it is the best choice for 10% and one of the "A" list choices for 15 percent, therefore, it would qualify for the award. As a result, many projectors receive our Hot Product Award, so pay attention to why we awarded it, and see if it matches well with your requirements.
I may not be able to tell you for a couple more months - until a number of other 1080p home theater projectors arrive and are reviewed, whether the HC5000BL is particularly bright compared to its competition, nor, if it has better than average black levels and shadow detail, etc. What we were able to conclude, however, is that its overall performance is impressive, it delivers the benefits you would expect from the move to 1080p, and overall very good performance which will be discussed in the Image Quality and General Performance sections. When I combine that, with its $4495 MSRP (and therefore a selling price below that), the HC5000BL appears to be the lowest priced of any of the announced 1080p projectors (The Panasonic PT-AE1000U, has an MSRP of $5995, the Optoma HD81, a $6995 MSRP (or higher), the Sony LCOS home theater projector - the Pearl - VPL-VW50) at $4995)...
So, with the Mitsubishi HC5000BL, we have a really impressive projector with an extensive feature set, that looks to be priced below all of the competition.
Take this level of performance, and a low selling price, and that translates into the HC5000BL having excellent price/performance, and one that should make it top choice for a significant number of those seeking a 1080p projector!
Let's get started.
Mitsubishi HC5000BL Home Theater Projector - Basic Specs:
Technology: 3 LCD panels
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: 1000 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.6:1
Lens shift: Vertical (motorized)
Lamp life: 2000 hours full power, 5000 lumens low power mode
Weight: 12.5 lbs. (5.6Kg)
Warranty: 2 years Parts and Labor
Review continues below this advertisement.
HC5000BL 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, for the same price. The white version still has black trim around the lens. . I believe that is why this projector is sometimes referred to as the HC5000, but more often as the HC5000BL (the BL standing for black).
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.
On the back of the projector is the input panel. The HC5000BL 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 HC5000BL 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 HC5000BL 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 HC5000BL is available.