Mitsubishi HC-5000BL Projector Review - General Performance
Menus and User Settings
Lens Throw and Lens Shift
SDE and Rainbow Effect
Audible Noise Levels
Lamp Life and Replacement
Projector Screen Recommendations
Mitsubishi HC5000BL Projector Menus
This Mitsubishi projector uses the same basic menu system as other Mitsubishi home theater projectors we have reviewed this year, with few changes.
The main menu has five options - Image, Installation, Feature, Signal, and Info.
The Image menu contains most of the goodies to adjust the image quality. Gamma mode lets you select between choices such as Cinema, Sports, Video, and Auto. You can also adjust the gamma manually for low medium and bright areas. Color Temp offers several different color temperatures - warm, medium, and cool. (In some other Mitsubishi home theater projectors, they actually listed temperatures, like 6500K, 7500K, etc., although our testing found that they weren't particularly accurate - so "warm" is safer than 6500K.) Shown immediately below the Image menu, is the Color Temp User menu, with separate controls for R, G, and B, for both Contrast and Brightness.
There are two User settings for Gamma, one for Color Temp, and those user settings, along with other settings like Brightness and Contrast can be saved in the AV Memory. There are three AV Memory save options as well.
Of course there is the usual Color saturation, Tint, and Sharpness, along with Brightness and Contrast adjustments on the Image Menu.
The Advanced menu gives you control of a number of items, but most notably, the Iris, with three different Auto Iris solutions, and Open (Iris wide open).
I played with the gamma controls (shown right) just a little, trying to see if I could bring a little more shadow detail out by lifting the Low values (and the medium just a notch). I had some success but, again did not play with it extensively.
Moving on, next comes the Installation menu.
Of particular note is the first item, which is lamp power - Standard or Low.
After that, there are Auto Power On and Off functions, allowing the projector to turn off automatically when not in use, ranging from 5 to 60 minutes. Also present are the usual settings for front or rear, ceiling or table positioning, and control of the 12 volt trigger for motorized screen control.
You can also Lock the Lens Shift setting.
The next major menu is the Feature menu, shown below.
That leaves two: The Signal menu which controls horizontal and vertical positioning, and Overscan control should a lower resolution image leave noise at the top or bottom of the screen.
Lastly is the Information menu, not shown, but identifies the resolution of the current source signal, and also has the lamp timer to show you how many hours are on the lamp.
Enough of the menus, already!
The Mitsubishi HC5000BL Remote Control
The HC5000BL's remote is above average. I must apologize, for the first time in about a year and a half, I somehow forgot to take a picture of the remote before sending back the projector the other day. Best I can do is this image from the pdf version of the manual. Ignore the numbers, which reference descriptions in the manual.
As you can probably read off the buttons, there are discrete buttons for On and Off, as well as an Auto Position button on the top row. Then come two rows allowing direct access of the different sources (DVI, HDMI, Computer, etc.)
The fourth row has three buttons, one for each User saveable memory.
And of course, the four arrow keys and center Enter button for navigating the menus.
Below that, left side is the Menu button, a button to select different Iris options and Aspect ratio change. Next come two more rows, including Contrast Brightness, Color Temp, Gamma, Sharpness and Color (saturation). Basically most features on the Image menu, can be directly accessed without going through the Main and Image menus.
The last row has one button that toggles between controlling the lens' Zoom and Focus (arrow keys handle the actual adjustment), another for controlling the Lens shift, and finally a Noise Reduction button.
I found that I was able to access most of the controls - including the Menu and arrow keys without having to shift my hand on the remote - something all remotes should strive for. Hitting any button engages the backlight - moderately bright, no problem there.
I also found that there was enough spacing in the remote that I could easily find the Menu button, and the arrow keys/Enter buttons without having to look at the remote.
Range of the remote, however was not particularly strong. With the projector about 17 feet from the screen and my seating positon 11 feet from the screen (28 feet total), I had only occasional success bouncing the remote's signal off of my screen and wall, to the projector. Mostly I had to point it rear. Note though at slightly shorter total distances, it became reliable. Thus I would say that if you are using a 100" or 110" screen you should have better luck!
Mitsubishi HC5000 Lens Throw and Lens Shift
Positioning the projector for a 100" 16:9 diagonal screen; the zoom lens will allow the projector (front), to be as close as 10 feet 3 inches and as far back as 16 feet 5 inches. As noted elsewhere, the zoom and focus are motorized, as is the lens shift. The lens shift feature has an unusually large adjustment range, a real plus. This allows the projector, (measured from the center of the lens) to be placed anywhere from significantly below to significantly above the screen surface. Overall the range is approximately 160% of screen height. For that 100" diagonal screen, for example, the center of the lens can be anywhere between about 13" below the bottom of the surface, to about 13" above the top. There is a small amount of horizontal lens shift as well, certainly more than you need to compensate for the off center lens, when mounting. The HC5000BL gets an "A" for placement flexibility.
Screen Door Effect and Rainbow Effect
Of course, being an LCD projector, there is no spinning color filter wheel, and therefore, no rainbow effect.
When it comes to pixel visibility and the Screen Door Effect, the HC5000BL performs extremely well, by virtue of being a 1080p projector. While sitting my usual 11 feet from my 128" diagonal Stewart Firehawk, pixels (barely visible on occasion on my 720p resolution DLP), were essentially gone! Only on credits could I really spot them when looking, and couldn't pick them out during normal movie or sports content. As a result, let's say this projector can comfortably be watched at close as a little less than 1 times screen width. That should make everyone (like me) who like to sit close in order to have a huge image, and better immerse themselves in the image, to be extremely pleased! After all, that's what front projectors are all about. (Who wants to watch on one of those tiny 60" plasma displays - they just don't give you that theater effect!) The only LCD projector I have seen with less visible pixels is the new Panasonic PT-AX100U (720p) using their smooth screen technology, and the Mitsubishi overall, is much sharper. When I get my hands on the new Panasonic 1080p - the PT-AE1000U, which also has Smooth Screen, I suspect pixels will be less visible on it, but the question is, will the Panasonic appear as sharp?
Mitsubishi HC5000BL Light Leakage
No issues here, virtually no light leaking anywhere, especially out the front!
Audible Noise Levels
This is easy. The HC5000BL is easily the quietest home theater projector I have yet encountered. It claims an almost silent 19 db in low power, and even in full power, is quieter than most other home theater projectors in their quiet (low power) modes.
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Mitsubishi HC5000BL Projector Brightness
I've been accused by readers of my reviews, of putting Projector Brightness too far down on the list of items in this page, just so people will read the rest. Hmmm, never really thought about it, but that's how it worked out.
The HC5000BL is definitely not a light canon (particularly bright). However, neither are any of the other announced 1080p projectors anywhere near the price range, so, for those wanting a really bright 1080p home theater projector, looks like you'll have to wait for the 2nd generation, a year away.
First, in " best" mode, with the HC5000BL projector in full (Standard) power, Cinema (gamma), and Color Temp set based on my calibration (see calibration section), the HC5000BL measured a very reasonable 480 lumens. Dropping to low power, brightness decreased by approximately 23% to 371 lumens. Note, dropping the power to low had a significant effect on the color balance (temp), which I will go into later.
The Video setting produced just a handful more lumens than the Cinema setting.
In brightest mode - set at Full power, Gamma = Sports, and Temp = High Brightness, the HC5000BL cranked out 886 lumens. Not bad, but it pales by comparison to the lower resolution Panasonic PT-AX100U, which cranked out a full 2000 lumens. In fairness, most home theater projectors have similar brightness to the Mitsubishi, except for that new Panny, the Optoma HD72, and a couple of others - the "light canons".
HC5000BL Lamp Life and Replacement
Mitsubishi rates the HC5000BL at 2000 hours in full power, and an impressive 5000 hours in low power. That is an unusually large percentage difference. For that reason, I was expecting that the HC5000BL's low power mode would be more like 30-35% less than Standard (full) power. Thus, I was very surprised to see a less than 25% drop. I suspect therefore, they are really working the lamp hard, in full power mode.
As mentioned in our Physical Tour, the Mitsubishi lamp door for replacement is on the side, so, no need to unmount the projector to change out the lamp. A real plus for those ceiling mounting!
Projector Screen Recommendations
Not overly large, for sure! I was never happy in Cinema (best) mode, watching movies with the projector set to fill my entire 128" diagonal, light gray high contrast surface Firehawk screen. By reducing the image size to 110" diagonal, though I found watching movies to work out just fine.
Dynamic Iris and AI, notwithstanding, the HC5000BL does a very good job in terms of black levels. As a result, for those wanting as large a screen as possible, I would recommend a screen with positive gain, like my other screen, the Carada Brilliant white - with it's 1.4 gain. My own Carada is 106" diagonal, and I found the image to be more than bright enough!
Please note, if your walls are pretty dark, you can get away with a bigger screen than with off white walls.
For those, most critical, and really wanting to knock the black levels down as far as possible, a light gray surface, with or without high contrast should do the trick. But for a typical user, after the high resolution and more of a mixed media type (sports, HDTV, gaming, as well as movies), I think most will appreciate the extra brightness of a positive gain, white surface. Please note, screens like the Carada Brilliant White, and the StudioTek 130 (1.3 gain), are by no means the brightest screens out there. Note, though, the more gain, the narrower the viable viewing angle (the more you lose sitting off to the side). Still, someone seeking max brightness, and whose critical seats are near the middle might even opt for a screen with a 1.8 or 2.0 gain. If the room has some light coming in from the sides near the screen, the extra gain also translates into rejecting more of the side ambient light.
All that said, at the 100" diagonal size, I think the Firehawk is a killer solution, and although it is a more expensive and (by most accounts) a "better" screen, less expensive products like Da-lite's Cinema Vision (with or without High Contrast) surface or Elite's light gray surface (purportedly high contrast, but only barely), should make good alternatives for those on a budget. Of course, when you are looking at a $4000+ projector, spending an extra $500 or so on a fixed wall screen to get the best, makes sense to me. But if you are going motorized, etc., the differences in price can go well beyond $1000!
Mitsubishi HC5000BL Calibration
I found in measuring the HC5000BL, that the warm setting was a bit too warm (red),.measuring (depending on the level of grays/white) between about 5900 and 6200. Conversely, the medium temp setting was a bit cool, but overall better, with white at 6730, 80 ire at 6734, 50 ire at 6938, and 30 ire at 6996. Of the two, I preferred watching movies at the Medium temp setting.
The real solution though is to calibrate - adjust the grayscale temperature. So I do recommend, at least getting a basic calibration disk (they have good tutorials, you can handle it), such as the AVIA disk.
Bottom line, I did a basic calibration, adjusting the R,G,B Brightness and Contrast, in the Color Temp User area.
The numbers I came up with:
Contrast: R=0, G=5, B=-4
Brightness: R=0, G=-1, B=-2
Note, no two projectors will end up with the same settings working best, as there is too much variation from lamp to lamp. Still, if you run out and buy an HC5000BL (and it is worthy!), you might try those settings, and see how they compare to the Warm and Medium settings.
So, here are the results of that calibration
100 IRE (white): 6552
80 IRE (light gray): 6488
50 IRE (med. gray): 6621
30 IRE (dark gray): 6521
Now, I got lucky! (Calibration, is to some degree a trial and error process). That's about as close as one can possibly get to hitting the 6500K on the button. Note, there is only a 137K difference between them all. As expected, the end result looked great. Mind you, the Medium setting was pretty good, but though subtle, the user settings produced beautiful fleshtones, and color overall. By the way, those numbers are very similar to the "right out of the box" Samsung SP-H710AE I just reviewed, which is essentially pre-calibrated.
When measuring the brightest mode, that 886 lumens was at a color temperature around 8400 (on white), just a bit too cool (high) a temperature for HDTV, and well above optimum movie watching (6500K). I did try the user settings I created for movies, and was able to get the color temp down to 7053 (for white), while Gamma was still set for Sports. I didn't measure the brightness with those user settings, but I would suspect that the lumens dropped down under 600.
Mitsubishi HC5000BL Image noise
The HC5000BL uses Silicon Optix HQV processing, highly touted as one of the best. I have Silicon Optix test disk which looks at jaggies, noise, cadence, and motion artifacts. Not surprising, the HC5000BL passed all of the tests easily. Overall though, there is the usual amount of background noise. I would say it's a bit better than the typical DLP projector (often LCD's are better in this area), and not objectionable. Could it be a bit better? Yes. Will you care? Not likely. Not an issue for all but the true perfectionists. I certainly had no problem with its image noise at any time while watching, and I do sit very close.
HC5000BL and HDTV in my theater
One technical problem I encountered, not mentioned previously. I had a problem trying to get the HC5000BL to work with the HDMI output from my cable box. I spoke with the Mitsubishi product manager, however, and I have concluded, that most likely the problem may be tied to the fact that this is a pre-production sample, and that I have on occasion suffered difficulty in my theater with other projectors, and none of them have been reported to have a problem overall. So, I attribute it to my own gear and wiring scheme, and possibly the pre-production aspect of this particular HC5000BL. I was also told that other reviewers have NOT reported any problems with HDTV feeds. I therefore believe you can dismiss this as an issue. Mitsubishi will be sending me another unit in the near future, just to confirm, and I will update when I get it. (That is why there are no HDTV images such as football or Jay Leno in this review).
OK, warranty description time: