Mitsubishi HC7000 Projector Review
A detailed review of the Mitsubishi HC7000 1080p home theater projector.
11/19/08 - Art Feierman
Mitsubishi HC7000 Projector Overview
The HC7000 is definitely an excellent projector. No doubt about it, it deserves our Hot Product Award, for its strengths mentioned in the next few paragraphs. The HC7000 (link to specs) home theater projector will be sold only through local dealers, and, I believe Best Buys' Magnolia stores. As a local dealer only product, it automatically tends to cost more (due to the higher dealer profit margins necessary for survival), than projectors sold online. Still, the performance is most impressive!
The price tag is a bit steep therefore, but for those wanting to buy local, have installation work done, etc., it seems to be pretty much in line with the "local" competition.
I'm can't wait to shooting out these projectors. The HC7000 is likely to be price comparable to the Pro Cinema 7500 UB (or the Epson will be a little less), while the Home Cinema 6500 UB, will be significantly less (probably about $1000). For those who could care less about anamorphic lenses (at least 95% of us), the Epson Home version will likely look extremely attractive.
It is a 3LCD projector with the latest 3LCD panels, Mitsubishi's new "diamond shaped" dynamic iris system, and a great looking box (for those dealing with the "wife factor".
The HC7000 is, as is typical for Mitsubishi, not a particularly bright projector. That makes the HC7000 home theater projector best suited for screens of 100 inch diagonal, or smaller, and, with the right rooms, conditions, and the right traditional screen, 110 inch diagonal is very doable. With high gain screens, of course, even larger sizes can be supported.
The HC7000 can support an anamorphic lens, to use a 2.35:1 Cinemascope shaped screen to eliminate letterboxing on most movies. What makes their implementation special, is that it doesn't require a motorized sled for the lens, to move it back and forth from in front of the lens. This cuts the cost of going anamorphic/Cinemascope, in about half.
What I really like about the HC7000 is its overall picture quality. The first noteworthy point, is that black levels are excellent. Still not up to, say the JVC projectors (which set the industry standard), but comparible to the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, and definitely a bit better than the also, most impressive, Panasonic PT-AE3000. Black levels are dramatically improved compared to last year's HC6000, and the less expensive HC6500!
It doesn't stop there. Sharpness is excellent. In side by side comparisons, you have no problem seeing that the HC7000 produces a sharper, crisper image, than the new Panasonic, or the old 1080 UB Epson. While the other two projectors' sharpness is just fine, the Mitsubishi HC7000 is a small cut above. It is especially notable on HDTV, and also Blu-ray sources that have 1080p all digital content (as opposed to film).
And, like all Mitsubishi 1080p projectors, it is quiet, in fact quieter, I believe than any other projectors around, and still much quieter in full lamp mode than most DLP projectors can do, even in low power mode. I still wish Mitsubishi would sacrifice some of its large advantage in audible noise for a brighter lamp. Imagine a 200 watt lamp, instead of a 160 watt lamp. Bingo - 25% more lumens across the board. Maybe next year.
When watching films on Blu-ray, I found the projector to definitely qualify as natural and film-like. More tidbits and opinions throughout the review, in the competitive and summary sections.
The HC7000 is a great projector! Just keep in mind its need for smaller screens. If you don't need a huge screen (like my 128" Firehawk G3), the HC7000 projector, may well be the best of the 3LCD projectors to date. Of course the Epson and the Sanyo have not yet been released, so only time (another 4-6 weeks for them to ship, and for us to review), before we can make a final determination.
The HC7000's competition not only includes the other top of the line 3LCD home theater projectors, but also LCoS entries from JVC and Sony, and DLP projectors like the InFocus IN83, and BenQ W20000.
The Mitsubishi HC7000 is not inexepensive, but it is sweet!
HC7000 Projector Highlights
- Excellent black level performance
- Extremely sharp looking image
- Slightly below average in brightness, limits use with larger (over 110" diagonal) screen sizes
- Converts 24fps (movies) to 48fps for a smoother image, to reduce motion blur
- Very good shadow detail (but not the best)
- Rich, saturated, but natural looking colors, and really good skin tones
- Anamorphic Mode 1 aspect ratio, allows use with 2.35:1 Cinemanscope screens
- Special Anamorphic Mode 2, allows an anamorphic lens to stay in front of the projector's lens, even when watching 4:3 and 16:9 content, thus saving the high cost of a motorized lens sled!
- Long life lamp of 5000 hours (only in low power mode), 2000 hour standard
- Power zoom, focus, and lens shift
- Sold only through local dealers, no online sales
- Extremely sharp image
Specs for Mitsubishi HC7000
MSRP: $4999. MAP: $3999
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.6:1 - motorized
Lens shift: Vertical and Horizontal - motorized
Lamp life: 5000 hours low power (eco-mode), 2000 hours at full lamp power
Weight: 16.5 lbs. (7.5 Kg)
Warranty: 2 Years Parts and Labor
Mitsubishi HC7000 Special Features
24/48 Frame Rate
The HC7000 doubles the frame rate of 24 frame per second content (movies are primarily shot, with film at 24fps. The increase to 48fps provides a very slight improvement. While this is a feature we'll be seeing more of (and 96 fps as well), and is a good thing, it is a relatively small thing, say, compared to having sufficient brightness, or great black levels (compared to average black level performance).
The Mitsubishi projector does not offer "creative frame interpolation" so it is not creating new content, which the Panasonic, the new Epson UB projectors and the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 promise, but, for most of us, these are minor things.
Cinemascope Anamorphic Lens Solution
Except for the high end of the home theater market, anamorphic lenses and Cinemascope ratio screens (2.35:1) are a tiny, but fast growing slice of the market. Mitsubishi's solution, in the HC7000 doesn't eliminate the need for an anamorphic lens, (like the Panasonic), but does cut the cost way down, by eliminating the need for a motorized sled. Those sleds are usually half or more of the total price.
With the HC7000, if you buy a 2.35:1 screen and an anamorphic lens, they have a special aspect ratio, that adjusts the image so that you can watch 16:9 content, or 4:3 content, without removing the anamorphic lens from the light path, thus, no motorized sled needed.
The advantage, compared to the Panasonic solution, is that when watching 2.35:1 movies, you are using all the pixels of the projector (1920x1080). With the Panasonic, it uses its zoom lens to get the width, and a matching aspect ratio, but it still is using only about 80% of the pixels for a 2.35:1 image, instead of the 100%. Technically, that means more brightness, and, inherently, a slightly sharper image.