Mitsubishi HC7800D Home Theater Projector Review
Mitsubishi's new HC7800D home theater projector has a manufacturer-suggested list price of $3,499 and it's sold by local installing authorized dealers. The projector itself is DLP based, a single chip design. Read our First Look at the Mitsubishi HC7800D blog, or read on!
1-29-2012 - Art Feierman
Mitsubishi HC7800D Projector Overview
The Mitsubishi HC7800D is small for a home theater projector. It has a shiny black finish and is generally "not bad looking at all" - a bit techie, in physical appearance. The HC7800D is the middle of the Mitsubishi home theater projector lineup.
The HC7800, a DLP projector, is straddled by Mitsubishi's LCoS based HC9000D projector on the high end of performance, and the HC4000 on the low. The HC9000D won our Best In Class award earlier this year end. The Mitsubishi HC4000, a low cost DLP single-chip projector, currently sells for well below $1500.
That lower cost HC4000 been a long-time favorite of ours as it's in its third year (including the almost identical HC3800). Okay, that's the Mitsubishi lineup of home theater projectors. Of course Mitsubishi makes about 3 dozen "business or education" projectors, a few of which can be considered cross-over products - decent in the home, but nothing that would rival the quality of the HC7800D. So, once again, let's get back to the HC7800D,
I want to mention the 1.5:1 manual zoom lens, which has a pretty good zoom range for a home DLP projector. That provides you with more placement flexibility than at least most of the DLP competition, and allows the HC7800D projector to compete with most LCD and LCoS projectors in terms of placement flexibility, especially considering it has vertical lens shift as well.
This is a fairly well endowed projector. The Mitsubishi HC7800 has creative frame interpolation for smooth motion. It also offers a full CMS (color management system) for calibrating the projector.
The HC7800D comes with a remote control, which has a little bit old design, but we'll talk about that later. When it comes to audible noise, DLPs tend to be a bit noisy. The HC7800 is not an exception but it gets fairly quiet particularly in its low power setting.
Mostly though, what's important is the picture. We will discuss that a great deal, in the following pages, but I did want to say, that overall, picture quality is really very good.
Let's take a closer look at the Mitsubishi HC7800D.
Mitsubishi HC7800D Projector Highlights
- 3D capable, includes supporting both 720 and 1080i/1080p 3D, including Blu-ray 3D and all DirecTV 3D content
- Physically small for a home theater projector, sorta cute!
- Really good color controls - calibrates well
- Very good lamp life - up to 5000 hours
- Excellent warranty!
- Creative Frame Interpolation for smooth motion
- Sold through authorized local dealers
- A really good projector for smaller screens!
Specs for Mitsubishi HC7800D
Technology: Single chip DLP
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: Manufacturer claim: 1500 lumens; 992 highest measured
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.5:1 Manual zoom and focus
Lens shift: Vertical (manual)
Lamp life: 5000 hours in eco mode, 2000 hours at full power
Weight: 12.3 lbs. (5.0 Kg)
Warranty: 3 Year Parts and Labor
View full specifications: Mitsubishi HC7800D
Mitsubishi HC7800D Special Features
HC7800D Lamp Life
The Mitsubishi HC7800's lamp life is rated 5,000 hours in low power mode. That's about as good as it gets with home theater projectors.
The HC7800, however is only rated a standard 2000 hours at full power. That's what we have called average until recently, but now the average at full power is a bit higher. Bottom line on lamp life: If you can run the HC7800 mostly in low power (eco-mode), you will have a significantly quieter projector and a very low cost of operation. At full power, though, all of the competition claims to get at least the same 2000 hour lamp life, and some claim twice the hours, which means those others will have lower long term costs.
1.5:1 Zoom Lens
The manual 1.5:1 lens provides very good placement range, more than is typically found in less expensive DLP projectors, and at the shorter range of the LCoS and LCD projectors which mostly have 1.5:1 up to 2.1:1.
HC7800D Projector - 3D Performance
The Mitsubishi HC7800D is fully 3D capable. Glasses are optional as is an emitter which plugs into the rear of the projector. Mitsubishi claims especially efficient glasses and I must say that they help. The big issue with most 3D capable projectors is not the actual quality of the 3D but the brightness. True, you can go with really high bright screens or very small screens with most projectors to get good 3D brightness, however, the primary problem is that 3D pretty much gives up about three quarters of your total brightness and that takes what would be a very bright 2D image and reduces it to a wish-it-was-brighter 3D image, with most of todays 3D capable projectors, when tackling medium and larger screens.
Due the variation with 3D glasses and how they work, taking straight measurements of 3D brightness doesn't give you an accurate picture of how bright the image will be. The Mitsubishi HC7800D in this case, measured in the high 800-lumen range in 3D mode, and seemed to be pretty bright considering that relatively low number of lumens.
Below: From Ultimate Wave: Tahiti 3D. This is an image taken of this scene in 2D. In 3D it doesn't photograph well (of course), but is one of the most spectacular 3D animations around. Colors looked rich and this scene looked great in 3D, though could have been a bit brighter.
This may be because of the DLP design. With LCD and LCoS projectors, you can often improve picture quality by reducing cross talk but that sacrifices some brightness. With this DLP projector, one setting fits all, as is common with DLPs. Bottom line on 3D brightness: Definitely could be brighter, however, remember that this projector inherently isn't built to be one of the brighter ones out there. Historically, I have found that Mitsubishi is pretty well known for producing really good projectors, but routinely, ones that are not exceptional bright.
We've determined that many Mitsubishi projectors that we've reviewed over the years are excellent as long as you stick to smaller screens such as 100 inches diagonal or less. Of course you can slightly larger depending on the screen surface and your room. The HC7800 projector is no exception! With really high gain screens, of course you can go a lot larger, but the trade-offs can be severe.
Below: More 2D, from the 3D Ultimate Wave: Tahiti 3D
Let's talk about picture quality! In 3D, the Mitsubishi HC7800D is one of the cleanest projectors we've seen. It's got the usual image noise that we expect in 2D and 3D off of DLP projectors, which means a touch more visible than most other technologies. The thing is, in 3D there is essentially no cross talk. It's just clean looking. Very impressive watching 3D, however I never took the image size above about 100 inches diagonal when watching, and still wasn't really happy with the brightness. With other projectors such as the Epson or the Panasonic, both of which are dramatically brighter in 3D, it was not usual for me to fill a 124‑inch 2.35 to 1 cinema scope-shaped screen without as much difficulty.
Bottom line on 3D performance for the Mitsubishi HC7800D is simply this: You will find the image quality to be rather excellent. The trade off, of course, is that if you're trying to fill a larger screen, the HC7800D simply doesn't have the muscle in 3D.
Mitsubishi HC7800 Projector: 2D to 3D conversion
Like many other 3D capable projectors, this Mitsubishi is capable of taking a 2D signal and converting it to 3D. In the past, I haven't been a really big fan of this. I've tried watching a lot of 2D content in 3D and generally am very disappointed. It's not that you don't get some 3D effect, you certainly do. It's simply just not that flawless, not that impressive, not that much depth. It's just not as compelling as a really good native 3D image can be. On the other hand, coming back from the CES Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, I saw an application for 2D to 3D that impressed me.
I'm talking about taking your own personal videos shot with your camcorder, your iPhone, or other device. Convert to 3D and enjoy your family and friends videos in 3D with the glasses on. Again, it won't be flawless 3D. It can really be cool when you're watching your friends or kids, or a family event.
So try that one out. On the other hand, converting movies to 3D that are 2D inherently? You can try it, and if you like it, go for it. My take is that the quality isn't good enough to rationalize wearing those glasses and looking at the dimmer image. I'll restrict my 3D viewing mostly to good quality 3D content. Mind you, that not all 3D content we're being fed on Blu‑ray or TV is all that good either, but great 3D content looks really good on the HC7800D. I happened to break out my old X Games content that I saved off of HDTV and it just looked fabulous. Go Shaun White.
HC7800D Creative Frame Interpolation - CFI - smooth motion
The HC7800 offers CFI (creative frame interpolation). This allows the Mitsubishi HC7800 to provide smoother video than you would get otherwise. Most people really like this for viewing sports and also a lot of digital content. For movie purposes, however, CFI impacts the feel of a movie, so is oft described as changing the Director's intent, replacing film-like quality with a soap opera kind of look or "live digital video" effect. As with most home theater projectors we review, I'm not a big fan of CFI for movies. I wouldn't recommend the Mitsubishi's CFI for movies, but then I've only indicated that 3 or 4 home theater projectors of the last 50 I've reviewed, are natural looking enought to even consider watching movies with CFI on.
That said, be aware that many folks including younger people like my college age daughter, really just don't pay attention to such details, and will watch content with CFI on or off. My daughter can tell you if CFI is on or off, in a heartbeat, but she normally doesn't care if it's on or off when she's watching. In other words - you are the most critical viewer in your familiy, so you too, may be less likely to engage CFI on any projector when watching film-based movies.