Mitsubishi HC6500 Home Theater Projector: Summary, Competition, Pros and Cons
First and foremost, the Mitsubishi HC6500 (link to specs) is one of those projectors that really produces a highly watchable, enjoyable image. The skin tones, are excellent, as is the overall color balance. Shadow detail is very good, and when you combine that with the good black level performance, what you have is a projector that's a pleasure to watch. This is a projector that, regardless if you can find one that's better for less, when you put it in your home, you will enjoy it! There are many projectors better at black levels, or better at something else, that just don't produce a really well balanced picture, which is what the Mitsubishi does.
Before I go further, a little commentary: Ultimately, the value of every projector out there, is in part determined by its selling price. You can have a projector that is so-so, compared $4000 dollar projectors, so a poor value at that price, but the same projector at $2500 might be a great deal.
As many of you realize, many of the 1080p projectors are not available from online resellers, where the best prices are normally found. Many manufacturers do not sell to online resellers, including virtually all the high end models and brands, from folks like Runco/Vidikron, SIM2, Marantz, and so on. Others, like InFocus, Epson and Mitsubishi often have some projectors available from online dealers, and others that are strictly local dealer sales (generally the CEDIA channel). Some, like Epson produce separate models for both markets with few real differences, but most, who split their line, simply allow sales of their least expensive models, via online, and their higher end projectors through the local channel.
The Mitsubishi HC6500 is one of those projectors that is intended for local dealer sales only, in fact, among other places, I'm told you can buy them at Best Buy.
There are many advantages in dealing with local dealers, offsetting that, however is the usual higher price tag. Local dealers can't do the volume, so need higher margins to survive. In exchange, it's great to have local support.
All that said, I like to keep comparisons relative. Those wanting and paying for local installation, normally won't save much by buying a projector online. The way I figure it, if a local dealer can't make their margin on the projector, they'll find a way to get most of it back in there.
The HC6500 has a MAP (minimum advertised price) of $2495, but without online competition, the dealers - all local, will likey be getting at least $3000 for it, at least initially.
My take is that, compared to other local dealer only projectors, it is a very good value, although, those buying online, will be able to find slightly better projectors for the same price or even as little as $2500.
The Mitsubihsi HC6500 is a step up from Mitsubishi's HC5500, their entry level 1080p projector, and one available online, for close to $2000. The only real major difference is in terms of black levels, where it has just enough improvement to go from OK, to good. For anyone who's at all an enthusiast, that is a significant difference.
Time to consider strenths and weaknesses of the HC6500 projector.
Mitsubishi HC6500 Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Mitsubishi HC6500 Projector: Pros
- Excellent color and overall image quality, after calibration. Most folks looking primarily for movie watching will find it an excellent fit.
- Brighter than most 1080p projectors when comparing "best" color modes
- Extremely sharp image
- Very good black level performance, better than the HC5500
- Very good shadow detail
- Two HDMI 1.3 inputs, full support for 24 fps, Deep Color, etc.
- Support for an anamorphic lens
- Power everything - zoom, focus, lens shift - it does everything at the touch of a button, but make you a martini
- Excellent gamma controls
- Extremely quiet operation
- Longest life lamp - 5000 hours in eco-mode, for low cost of operation
- Perhaps the best looking (physically) projector under $10,000. Cool!
- Low image noise
- Very good manual, with reasonable explanations for many functions (they can still do better!)
- Comes with a cable cover to hide the connections - a real plus for ceiling mounting
- Very good price performance compared to other local dealer sales only projectors
Mitsubishi HC6500 Projector: Cons
- Somewhat below average brightness in "brightest" mode, may be a limit to those wanting larger screens (larger than 110" diagonal), or those who heavily watch sports with moderate, intentional, ambient light
- Cannot match the black level performance of some new projectors at, or below its selling price
- Could use an extra two or three user memory modes
- General price/performance compared to some excellent projectors available at online pricing, is not very good.
Mitsubishi HC6500 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Slightly below average brightness in "brightest mode"
- Menus: while they are good, they are nothing exceptional
- Range of the remote control
- Lamp life in full power mode
- Black level performance for "mid-tier" 1080p home theater projectors
- 2 Year warranty is typical, although longer than some competitors, shorter than others
Mitsubishi HC6500 Projector: Competitive Aspects
With a whole host of new 1080p projectors to still review in the next 8 weeks, it's hard to do a lot of competitive information, since I can only deal intelligently, with how it compares to other projectors I've reviewed. For that reason, most of these below, are about to be discontinued. As more reviews roll out these next few weeks, you'll be able to find how the HC6500 compares to them, in their reviews.
HC6500 vs. InFocus IN83, IN82, X10
The HC6500 is typically less expensive than the IN82, and far, far less than the IN83. What these three all have in common is excellent color handling, in terms of skin tones, and film-like appearance and color accuracy in general. The IN83 has a significant, but not overwhelming advantage in black levels, the IN82 (a long time ago) is probably comparable in that regard. The Mitsubishi has, of course a huge placement flexibility advantage over these DLP projectors. The X10 is available online, and is a nice projector, but I favor the Mitsubishi.
The really big advantage of the InFocus projectors is in terms of brightness. Even in best mode, the IN82 and IN83 are brighter, and they are dramatically so, in brightest mode, where the IN83, for example is almost twice as bright - a huge difference.
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Mitsubishi HC6500 vs. HC5500
The HC5500 is the economy version, available online. Overall, the major differences relate to physical placement, with the HC5500 having a limited 1.2:1 zoom, and more limited lens shift. The HC5500 also uses older LCD panels, which may explain why there is a significant improvement in black levels with the HC6500. The HC5500 is just dandy as a low cost, entry level projector, but those paying more attention to pure performance will find that the black level difference is enough to make the HC6500 worth a chunk more money.
Mitsubishi HC6500 vs. Panasonic PT-AE2000U
The PT-AE2000U is going away now, with the replacement PT-AE3000U starting to ship next week, so no point in spending much time on it. The HC6500 should at least equal the black level performance of the AE2000U, and it will be a step up in brightness in best mode, though a little less bright when comparing their brightest modes. The Mitsubishi is quieter, has a slightly more natural looking image, and definitely produces a sharper looking image.
The Panasonic has a one year shorter warranty, but has a bit more range in terms of placement, although the differences in this area probably won't have any impact on 90% of potential buyers
Mitsubishi HC6500 vs. BenQ W5000
3LCD vs. DLP. The Mitsubishi has a placement advantage, with more zoom range, and more lens shift range, although the BenQ W5000 is one of the few DLP's to offer lens shift. Both are very sharp. The BenQ definitely is louder, being on the quiet end of the DLP projector range, but still far more than the Mitsubishi which is simply the quietest projector on the market.
Both have very good color handling after calibration, but the HC6500 has one advantage, in that the BenQ which calibrates excellently throughout most of its range, always remains a little cool (bluish white), on full white (100 IRE). The BenQ also has a little more image noise, but not enough to be an issue.
Both are very bright in best mode, but the BenQ has a couple hundred lumens advantage in brightest mode. Black levels are roughly comparable, with perhaps the BenQ having a slight advantage. These two are both very good in terms of viewing enjoyment with minor trade-offs.
Mitsubishi HC6500 vs. Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, Home Cinema 1080
The Epson is in "close-out" mode now, on both the standard 1080, and the UB. Prices are exceptional while they last. No question the Epson UB has a significant advantage in black levels, and is about 75% brighter in brightest mode, but is only about 75% of the brightness in "best mode". That translates into large screens being a challenge for the Epson's in best mode, and a challenge for the HC6500 when comparing brightest modes, with more than a little ambient light.
The Mitsubishi wins the sharpness battle, and is much quieter - the Epson's being a couple of the noisiest 3LCD projectors, and comparable to most DLP projectors. The Mitsubishi is also power everything, while the Epson is manual. The Epsons have more lens shift, and zoom range - about as good as either get. The Epsons do not support an anamorphic lens.
Mitsubishi HC6500 vs. Epson Home Cinema 6100 and 6500 UB
This is conjecture, as these models won't be out until December. The new Epsons have the same placement advantages, and still don't support an anamorphic lens (which, few buy, since a lens and sled is typically more than the cost of these projectors). The Home Cinema 6100 should be close, or slightly better in terms of black levels, and the 6500 UB, will blow away the HC6500, since its definitely better than the older 1080 UB in this regard, and even the old one is better.
Both Epson projectors will be available from online dealers, with the 6100 being far less expensive at $1999. The pricing isn't set on the 6500 UB, but probably around $3000 or a little less. The 6500 UB is exactly what I was talking about at the top of this page, in that, it is technically the step up product, but may well be very price competitvely with the Mitsubishi, because of the Mitsubishi's local dealer type pricing.
The Mitsubishi has all the "power" features, while the Epson's will have that slight zoom lens range advantage. The Epson's do not support anamorphic lenses, but for those who crave one of those lenses, Epson has the almost identical Pro Cinema 7500 UB. That one, though, is likely to be sellling for $4K or more, when it ships, making it the direct competition for Mitsubishi's top of the line HC7000, which we will be reviewing in a couple of weeks.
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HC6500 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z2000, PLV-Z3000, PLV-Z700
The Z2000 is almost gone, the Z3000 shipments are iminent. The older Sanyo is dimmer - significantly so, in best mode, but also in brightest mode. The Z3000 when it ships should be competing more directly with the HC7000, as it has those ultra high contrast numbers that should promise really excellent black levels instead of just good ones. All are very sharp, all are very quiet. The Sanyo Z700 is far less money (already well under $2000), but it is more directly competition for the less expensive HC5500. The HC6500 easily does better back levels than the Z700, and slightly better than the Z2000.
Mitsubishi HC6500 Home Theater Projector: Summary
The HC6500 is a mid-grade 1080p projector. It is easily better than the lowest cost current "entry-level" 1080p projectors like their own HC5500 and the Sanyo PLV-Z700.
Those interested only in movies will love the brightness in best mode. It's just over 1000 lumens can fight some ambient light for sports and TV viewing, but not as well as a number of competitors, many of which, though aren't as bright in "best" mode.
You'll need to consider your room, screen size, and expected viewing mix, into your priorities to figure out how good a match the HC6500 is.
Ultimately the HC6500 is the quintessential 1080p projector: Well featured, mid-priced, and producing a better, more natural looking image than most of the competition.
Mitsubishi HC6500 Projector: Bottom Line
If you plan to buy your projector through your local dealer, and the HC6500 is in your budget, it certainly should be one to consider. While it won't measure up to Mitsubishi's new HC7000 (a safe bet), or some of the new models yet to be released (the Epson UB models), the Panasonic and the Sanyo Z3000 in black levels, this is one of those projectors that, if you own it, you should thoroughly enjoy it. Since my biggest reservation seems to be good black level performance, let me remind you that the HC6500 is good enough in this area, with black levels that are still impressive, and not a weakness to enjoyable viewing.
It is the combination of great overall image quality, features, sharpness and quiet that make the Mitsubishi HC6500 an excellent choice, and impressive enough to earn our Hot Product Award.