Mitsubishi HC7900DW - Competitors
How does this Mitsubishi HC7900DW compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market?
Mitsubishi HC7900DW vs. Epson Pro Cinema 6020 UB and Home Cinema 5020 UB
Let's start by considering the HC7900DW against the Epsons when they are calibrated. Note that both Epsons should produce identical pictures. Differences between those two Epson models are basically case color, warranty, and local vs online sales.
Skin tones - the Epson's are pretty darn good, but the Mitsubishi gets a win here. You might not notice unless comparing side by side (which I, of course, get to do), but I have to say that the Mitsubishi HC7900's skin tones are more natural. Both projectors are similar in terms of calibrated brightness, not enough different (less than 4% difference) to matter to anyone.
Black Levels: The Mitsubishi HC7900 is very good at blacks, but the Epson is a step up in that area of performance.
3D Picture. Both do a very nice job, with the Epson pretty clean, and the Mitsubishi even cleaner.
Brightest Mode: This favors the Epson. It can put almost double the watchable lumens on the screen, and that's a big factor in any family room type environment, and it can matter in a home theater, if you go with a very large screen. When it comes to 3D, although we give the Mitsubishi a slight edge in picture, we give the Epsons a big win for 3D brightness - no comparison. The Epsons are projectors that people who love 3D and watch a fair amount, will want. The Mitsubishi in 3D is fine, but due to lack of brightness, only really viable on smaller screens.
Warranties are both great - 3 years on the Mits, 2 on the Epson, but Epson provides two years of "overnight" replacement program, a great feature.
Pricing. The online Epson HC5020UB is going to be about $2599, with 2 pair of 3D glasses. The Mitsubishi HC7900 is $2499, without glasses or emitter - so figure $99 for the emitter and $99 for 3D glasses (assuming good ones). The xPand 3D glasses Mitsubishi provided were IR, and heavier than the Epsons', and not quite as comfortable. From our reckoning, consider (if you want 3D), the Mits to be only $200 more, despite being "local dealer only". By comparison, the HC6020UB (also local only) would be about $700 more, but would not only have the 2 pair of glasses, but also a 3rd year of warranty with replacement program, and a spare lamp and ceiling mount. In other words, priced about the same when you strip away the extras.
Interesting choice! More different than better/worse
Mitsubishi HC7900DW vs. Sony VPL-HW50ES
Hmm. The Sony is also very natural in terms of skin tones, etc. I might just have to give the HC7900 the edge, but it is going to be really, really slight, and which you would pick strictly on that criteria may well depend on which movie you are watching! Call it a tie for most of us.
Placement: The Sony has more zoom range, and full vertical and horizontal lens shift, vs. the HC7900's vertical only.
Black levels are all Sony, which rivals the Epsons. A slight edge to the HC7900 DW for dark shadow detail.
Calibrated - the VPL-HW50ES crushes the Mitsubishi with 992 lumens vs 701. The HW50ES is the brightest calibrated projector ultra high contrast projector we've seen under $12,000 in quite a while. Bottom line - bigger screens like the Sony.
Brightest mode: Now the two are much closer, but the Sony has the advantage, and that also results in...
3D viewing: Got to go with the Sony for producing a brighter image in 3D. The DLP Mitsubishi will be cleaner (no official DLP crosstalk), but the Sony is close enough.
Sharpness: The Sony has that great dyanmic detail enhancement that adds apparent sharpness to the image. By comparison, the HC7900 starts with single chip DLP - and an inherently sharper image before fancy processing.
In most situations I'd pick the Sony, but they aren't comparable in price. Your talking $3999 with 2 pair of glasses and spare lamp, so roughly $3400, vs. roughly $2800. $600 is significicant money.
Both have a three year warranty, so no advantage there.
While both put an impressive image on the screen, despite a number of other differences, it may come down to brightness vs. cost.
HC7900DW vs. Sharp XV-Z30000
A pretty good competition. The Sharp is slightly more expensive, and not as bright calibrated, but should be at least as good in terms of black level performance. Both are DLP projectors.
The Sharp and Mitsubishi are about equally bright around 1100 lumens in "brightest" mode.
Frills go to the Sharp, notably better placement flexibility with a 2.0 motorized zoom and lens shift. Sharp takes advantage of that and provides a lens memory feature so you can choose to go with a wide screen such as a 2.35:1 aspect ratio screens for watching "Cinemascope" movies without letter boxes.
Both have 3 year warranties.
Mitsubishi HC7900DW vs. Viewsonic Pro 9000
No contest here. The Viewsonic has the laser light engine, so no lamp to replace, which means a nice low long term cost of operation, if you plan to keep your projector for many years.
Other than that, and the Viewsonic being a bit quieter, I have to recommend the HC7900DW. It's this simple: picture quality!
Skin tones - which are gorgeous on the HC7900DW, are only acceptable at best on the Viewsonic. The Viewsonic just can't be calibrated to have a great looking picture...
As a side note, the Viewsonic doesn't offer 3D.
Mitsubishi HC7900DW vs. PT-AE8000
This comparison is, of course similar to the Mitsubishi vs. the Epsons, but the Mitsubishi is even stronger here:
Calibrated: Both are excellent, but the HC7900DW still has the edge in skin tones. When it comes to calibrated brightness, the Mitsubishi has more than a 10% advantage.
Black levels: Very close. the Mitsubishi might have the slightest advantage, but call them a tie. Variation from scene to scene may make a difference as to which does better.
Brightest: No contest here, the Panny has the advantage in the family room, or in the theater with ambient light present. The Panasonic has about 75% more brightness, and that's huge
3D: The Mitsubishi is cleaner, but the Panasonic has a big brightness advantage. All else being equal, as with the Epsons, I'd rather have the 3LCD projector over the Mitsubishi, thanks to the significant extra horsepower, which moves 3D out of the dim range.
Pricing favors the Mitsubishi, using our $2799 pricing with emitter and glasses, vs. $2999 on the Panasonic with 2 pair, remember, that if you are reading this after 1/1/2013, the free glasses offer for the Panasonic is scheduled to end. If it does, then you have about a $2800 to $3200 difference.
The Mits kills Panasonic on warranty - 3 years on the Mitsubishi, vs. 2 years, with a 2000 hour limit on the Panasonic. Heavy users of the Panasonic may see their warranty run out before the end of year 1, despite the "2 year warranty", since it's a "whichever comes first".