Mitsubishi HC5500 Home Theater Projector Review: General Performance
There's lots of information about the HC5500 (link to specs) to cover in this section. These links will allow you to quickly get to any topics of interest to you.
Mitsubishi HC5500 Menus
Mitsubishi HC5500 User Memory Settings
HC5500 Remote Control
HC5500 Lens Throw and Lens Shift, Pixel Structure...
SDE and Rainbow Effect
Mitsubishi HC5500 Projector Brightness
Mitsubishi HC5500 Light Leakage
Mitsubishi HC5500 Audible Noise Levels
HC5500 Projector Screen Recommendations
Mitsubishi HC5500 Projector: Menus
Mitsubishi's menus are basically the same on the HC5500, as with the older HC4900, HC6000 and HC5000, but with a few minor changes (for example the HC5500 has an iris control, that the irisless HC4900 lacks). Since there are few changes, for the moment here's a link to the menus of the HC6000 review's menu section, as the controls are almost identical.
Mitsubishi HC5500 Projector: User Memory Settings
The HC5500 allows you to set User areas for Color Temp, and Gamma. Your User Color Temp settings, as noted, can be based on the existing different color temp areas (Warm, Medium, Cool), but not High Brightness. Make all your settings changes to all areas (including, also, brightness, contrast, iris on/off, etc.), and you can save them in the AV Memory Save area. You have three User Memory Save areas to use. Although having two or three more User defined settings would be nice, three is an acceptable number, and should keep almost everyone happy!
Mitsubishi HC5500 Projector: Remote Control
The HC5500 uses the same remote control as the HC6000.
This remote has discreet 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.)
Row four has three buttons, one for each User savable memory.
The four arrow keys and center Enter button for navigating the menus.
Next row: Left side is the Menu button. Next, a button to select different Iris options and finally, 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 on the HC5500 remote control 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 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 sufficient spacing in the remote that I could easily find the Menu button as well as the arrow keys/Enter buttons without having to look at the remote.
The range of the HC5500 remote control is average. 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. As a result, I got used to pointing it over my shoulder, at the projector. Of course I'm talking a 28 foot trip for the signal, when I try to bounce off the screen. Also, it seems to me, that high contrast gray screens, like my Firehawk G3, aren't really good surfaces for a good bounce. At slightly shorter total distances, the remote became more reliable. I conclude that if you are using a 100" or 110" screen you should have better luck (mine is 128")!
Mitsubishi HC5500 Projector: Lens Throw and Lens Shift
As noted at the beginning of this review, the HC5500 has a more limited range zoom lens than their previous 1080p projectors. Featuring only a 1.2:1 zoom lens, the HC5500 has pretty much the same amount of zoom range as the typical DLP projector, even though it is a 3LCD projector. The average 3LCD home theater projector has about five times the adjustment range (2:1). This will mean that perhaps up to half of the folks who would like to shelf mount this Mitsubishi instead of ceiling mounting it, will find that their room depth and screen size combination won't allow shelf mounting.
For a 100 inch diagonal 16:9 screen, the HC5500 can be placed as close as 10.5 feet and as far back as 12.8 feet, measured from screen, to front of the lens.
The HC5500 still has vertical lens shift, but again, the range has been reduced. With the HC5500 the projector can be positioned anywhere from even with the top of the screen surface, to even with the bottom of the screen surface (as measured from the center of the lens). For most folks, that isn't a problem at all, but for those with high ceilings, the projector will have to be brought down to the top of the screen's height. Most other 3LCD projectors for a 100" screen, can be an additional 10 to 24 inches higher (or lower), thanks to more lens shift range. The HC5500 does not have horizontal lens shift, which means if you are doing a ceiling mount by yourself, be sure to compensate the mount's placement for the lens being off center. (The same would be true for a shelf.)
Mitsubishi HC5500 Projector: SDE and Rainbow Effect, Pixel Visibility
OK, this is a 3LCD projector, so it lacks a spinning color wheel (like single chip DLP projectors), and therefore there is no Rainbow Effect at all. The HC5500 has newer 3LCD panels, which have noticeably less visible pixel structure than projectors of just a couple of years ago. At normal seating distances, the reduced pixel structure, combined with 1080p resolution also makes Screendoore Effect pretty much a non-issue. You'll probably need some coarse non-HD TV source, and have to sit much closer than normal to detect screendoor effect. That's not to say, at the close end of normal seating, that you won't be able to make out the pixel structure in things like closing credits of movies, and types of "digital signage" employed on sports programming (scores, player info, etc.).
Bottom line: not an issue. For the very few who might not be happy, there's always DLP or LCoS technology, as the DLP's pixel structure is finer, and with LCoS, much finer than with 3LCD.
Mitsubishi HC5500 Projector: Brightness
Very nice! The HC5500 measured slightly brighter than it's predecessor, the HC4900, with an impressive 640 lumens in "best" mode. This drops more than 26%, to 472 lumens, when the lamp is set to low power. The somewhat larger than normal drop (most are right around 20%), no doubt is at least in part, repsonsible for the excellent lamp life in Eco-mode (low lamp power), of 5000 hours!
You can figure that you will get that same 26.2% decrease in brightness in any mode, when switching to low lamp (eco-mode) power.
The HC5500 has a good, but not massive increase in brightness in its brightest mode, unlike some other 3LCD projectors. Epson for example is almost 4 times brighter in it's brightest mode, than its best mode. Still, the HC5500 manages to output 1061 lumens, and that's about average for a bright mode these days in 1080p projectors.
Review continues below this advertisement.
Mitsubishi HC5500 Projector: Light Leakage
No real issues here! The tiny amount of leakage through the lens, is well below the black level threshold, so it is unlikely that you will ever notice it.
Mitsubishi HC5500 Projector: Audible Noise Levels
Definitely no issues here! The HC5500 continues Mitsubishi's leadership in terms of quiet 1080p projectors. Even in full power mode, Mitsubishi puts their noise level in the low 20db range. By comparison, most competing DLP projectors and more than a few 3LCD projectors, are much louder - around 28db to 31db, in their quiet modes. I know of nothing significantly quieter, and no one, I repeat, no one, will have any problem with the HC5500's audible noise, unless they are using the projector as a pillow!
Mitsubishi HC5500 Projector: Screen Recommendations
Screen recommendations for the Mitsubishi HC5500 are going to depend on a three factors, including type of materials you watch, (ie, all movies, mostly movies, or more TV, HDTV and sports in general), room conditions, and whether you are willing to give up some brightness for better black levels.
If you are hard core movie watching, and an AV enthusiast, who wants the best overall picture out of your HC5500, then I'd recommend a high contrast gray surface. The Stewart Firehawk works extremely well with the HC5500 in my room, but, there are other good (if not as good) HC gray surface screens available from just about every player, including Elite, Da-Lite, Grandview, Draper, etc.
We've reviewed the Elite HC Gray surface for example, and it would be a good match for those on limited budgets. It's not overly high contrast, nor very dark gray, so you get a nice picture, with some side ambient light rejection, and slightly improved black levels. Now that the HC5500 has a dynamic iris, the end result is pretty good (not exceptional) black levels when watching, with a screen like that.
If sports are you thing, and I see myself recommending the HC5500 for sports fans, I would tend to recommend a white surface with some gain. How much gain, is dependent on where people are sitting, as, if you have folks sitting too far to the sides, they will see some unevenness in brightness. For most setups, I'd stick to white surface screens with gain from 1.0 to 1.4 - 1.5. If your viewing cone is fairly narrow (say everyone inside the outer edges of the screen, and normal or further than normal seating distances, then perhaps up to a 1.8 or 2.0 gain.
These higher gain screens will give you a brighter picture, if you sit where you need to. That gets rid of the need to watch sports in a really dark "cave like" setting.
Mitsubishi HC5500 Projector: Measurements and Calibration
First here are the measurements "out of the box" for best mode, with lamp at full power. Those settings are Color Temp set to medium (that measured best), Gamma set to Auto,
White (100 IRE): 6594K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6969K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6849K
Low gray (30 IRE): 6731K
Over all, a bit cool (higher than the ideal 6500K), but close.
After calibration, settings:
Brightness = 3
Contrast = 3
Color Temp = Medium
Gamma = Cinema
Lamp mode = Standard (high)
The end result proved to be a truly excellent set of numbers, and corresponding color accuracy for movie watching:
White (100 IRE): 6596K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6556K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6488K
Low gray (30 IRE): 6433K
Now that is a nice, tight, almost dead on, set of numbers, with a very slight shift from cool (bluish) to warm (reddish), as one measures from white to dark gray.
Of note, down in the noise levels of our equipment - below 30 IRE where accuracy is iffy, the HC5500 shows a shift to stronger reds and blues and a drop in green. This is only going to be visible in very dark areas, mostly in dark scenes, and, in fairness, we see significant shifts in these dark gray/black areas on most projectors.
Review continues below this advertisement.
One nice thing about calibrating the HC5500 (and other Mitsubishi projectors), when adjusting the color temp, you can choose any of the built in settings as a starting point (ie. Medium, High Brightness, Warm...). For our purposes, we found in pre-calibration, that Medium was the closest, so when creating Color Temp User 1, we told the menus to use Medium as the starting point.
These are the adjustments we made (in addition to the Brightness and Contrast above), for "best mode", User 1:
In setting the Gamma into its User 1, we set controls for ALL (so that R,G, and B, all have the same settings):
And of course, for movie watching, you'll definitely want the dynamic iris turned on! The iris is very fast, and rarely detectable even if looking for its action. Remembering back to the HC4900 which lacked a dynamic iris, and had very mediocre black level performance, the addition of the dynamic iris is the primary improvement in this projector, so take advantage of it!
HC5500 Image Noise
Consistent with other Mitsubishi 1080p projectors, there are no real issue here. Image noise is pretty typical for a 3LCD projector, and less than the typical DLP projector. Motion artifacts were minimal on the HQV test disc, and the projector passed the jaggies tests with no problem!