Mitsubishi HC5000 Projector Reviews: Summary, Pros, Cons
Since the HC5000BL (link to specs) is the first "affordable" 1080p projector I have reviewed, it is not easy to truly figure out it's price/performance, or if it is the best choice of the 5-6 new 1080p projectors that will sell for under $7000 in the next few months.
As a result, as I review additional 1080p home theater projectors you can expect me to comment on how they compare with the HC5000BL.
Click to enlarge the image above (from Starship Troopers - standard DVD).
Since this is the first, I'll do what I can to give you a good perspective. In part, I can do this by relating how the HC5000BL compares in areas other than resolution, to the 720p projectors. Ultimately, the question is does a projector work best for your requirements.
The number one strength of the HC5000BL is likely to be its price. Based on its MSRP of only $4495, it is the lowest priced 1080p, announced. The Sony VW50 comes close at $4995, and the rest are mostly $5995 to $7999. Such a low price pretty much guarantees that the HC5000BL, at least initially will be your lowest cost entry to the world of 1080p.
Panasonic, I should note has set the list price of their PT-AE1000U at $5995, but no MAP has been set yet, and it's possible that it will be $4995. I viewed the PT-AE1000U recently at the Panasonic's first press showing in Hollywood, under "ideal" conditions and side by side with their older PT-AE900U. It too, looked very, very good, and sharper than their older model, although that older projector was considered just average in sharpness, so there is a question, whether the PT-AE1000U with its smooth screen setup will be a sharp as the HC-5000BL. Since 1080p LCD projectors have much smaller pixel structures than 720p, it becomes a question of whether the Panasonic, needs Smooth Screen, and whether it's a good tradeoff.
The Mitsubishi HC5000BL, we will assume, is the least expensive 1080p projector your money can buy. In addition, it is priced not far above most of the 720p Darkchip3 DLP projectors, making it a projector to seriously consider if you are also looking at other projectors available online, like the Optoma HD7100/HD7300, or the BenQ PE8720.
The 720p res Samsung SP-H710AE is the best projector I have seen to date, in terms of out of the box accuracy, and shadow detail, but the HC5000BL, is superior in terms of black levels and very close to the Samsung in shadow detail. Yet, the HC5000BL provides 1080p resolution, a sharper image and more placement versatility, for only about $1000 more.
The HC5000BL provides a very sharp image, primarily by virtue of its higher resolution. The advantages are slight (compared to a good 720p projector like my BenQ, or the Samsung that I did the side by side photos with), when watching DVD. When you move up to HD resolution, such as an HD-DVD player, the difference is more noticeable. It comes down to this - if you like to sit close to medium - let's say no more than 1.6 times screen width (about 11 feet from a 100" screen), I have no doubt you will be able to see, and appreciate, the difference between the HC5000BL and a very good 720p projector. It certainly convinced me to replace my BenQ in the next couple of months, to get the extra resolution.
I found the out of box performance to be extremely good. Though not perfect, the color balance is more than good enough to produce very enjoyable flesh tones, and overall very good color. Most will be thrilled with the out of box performance, but I still recommend, a basic calibration, as it allows you to slightly improve on that. I would say that, out of the box, it does a better job (of being "right on") than 90% of the projectors I have reviewed in the last year. As a result, for those that just want to buy one and enjoy it, and not fiddle, it is an excellent choice.
At the same time, it is also especially well equipped with image controls and has its three main User memory settings, plus user settable controls in gamma, and color temp. Overall, a bit more flexibility than most projectors offer.
I have my usual, slight reservations about dynamic irises. I prefer a Darkchip3 solution for consistently producing the blackest blacks, to an iris, which will have black levels changing from scene to scene. Like most LCD projectors with dynamic irises, you can occasionally detect its operation if being observant, however, there are three different Auto Iris settings and I didn't get a chance to really explore the performance differences between them.
That said, I was able to detect the iris at work in several scene changes, and within scenes, in Phantom, and also Serenity, the two movies that I spent the most time with on the HC5000BL (both off of HD-DVD). I didn't find it annoying at all, in fact, it was mostly noticeable only when I was looking for its affect.
Seriously, the Auto Iris/black level issue is the only real complaint I have with the Mitsubishi HC5000BL projector! When the Auto Iris does its thing, on scenes without really bright areas, the HC5000BL delivers really excellent black levels, rivaling my BenQ PE8720. On the scenes mostly dark, but with some very bright areas, those Darkchip3 DLP's do blacker blacks.
Perhaps the really important point here, is that it really was a pleasure watching Phantom, and the 5th Element, and even Sin City (a real challenge for dynamic iris projectors).
The only real downside to the HC5000BL is in brightness where it is only average, and therefore best if you keep the screen size to 110" diagonal or under. Only you know if your room ambient light situation or if your choice of content (like sports and general HDTV viewing) demand more lumens. If you do need more, however, it looks so far, like none of the 1080p projectors will meet that requirement.
Time to look at the Pros and Cons, to see how good the HC5000BL really is, and its strengths and weaknesses:
- Excellent overall out of the box performance
- Especially good flesh tones
- Rich saturated colors
- Very good shadow detail
- Excellent black levels (within the limitations of dynamic irises)
- Excellent placement flexibility (1.6 zoom, and more lens shift than almost any other projector reviewed)
- User saveable settings
- Very user-friendly operation
- Excellent lamp life (in low power mode)
- Quietest projector yet
- Lamp can be replaced without unmounting projector
- Good remote control
- Good menu system
- Very good manual
- Extremely pleasing to watch
- Great price performance!
- Brightness is average - limiting screen size, and a potential problem with those dealing with more than a minimum of ambient light
- Remote's range is slightly limited
- Backlight comes on when you press any button - I prefer a dedicated backlight button
HC5000BL - Typical Performance
- Average brightness
- Lamp life at full power
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Mitsubishi HC5000 Projector - The Bottom Line
The HC5000BL's overall color performance is excellent, black levels very good, shadow detail very good, and virtually no blown out near whites either. It one of the best projectors we have seen in terms of Performance out of the box, without adjustment. Combine that with an impressive feature set, including motorized zoom, focus, and lens shift, plenty of placement flexibility, and, as previously noted, a very sharp image, then consider it is the lowest priced of any of the announced 1080p projectors. The end result is that the Mitsubishi HC5000BL is an excellent projector at a very excellent price (for 1080p), and thus, truly deserving of our Hot Product Award.
Overall, I have been impressed with just about every Mitsubishi home theater projector I have reviewed. In the past, Mitsubishi has been a bit premium priced, and that has been one of their only weaknesses. This time around, looks like Mitsubishi wants to be the low price leader. That's really nice for all of us!
I am pretty confident, that just about anyone who buys an HC5000BL will end up loving it!
From Starship Troopers on DVD. Rich, saturated colors, and a sharp, highly detailed - including shadow areas - image; what's not to like?
I, too, am shopping for a 1080p projector. Having watched the HC5000BL extensively (about 14 hours of content viewing), it is certainly a serious contender for my theater. My only reservation is brightness, which again is "average", because of my very large screen. Of course, none of the other announced under $10,000 1080p projectors is claiming to be brighter than the Mitsubishi HC5000 - what a dilemma! -art