Mitsubishi HC7900DW Home Theater Projector Review
Mitsubishi's new HC7900DW home theater projector has a manufacturer-suggested list price of $2,499 and it's sold by local installing authorized dealers. It is a 2D and 3D capable projector, but, please note, the $2499 price does not included the needed 3D emitter, nor any 3D glasses. Figure an extra almost $500 to add 3D with two pair of glasses.
This Mitsubishi projector itself is DLP based, a single chip design. It is 2D and 3D The HC7900 DW projector, replaces last year's HC7800D. What does the W in HC7900 DW stand for? The HC7900DW comes with a white case, (last year's "D" was in a black case).
11-24-2012 - Art Feierman
Mitsubishi HC7900DW Projector Overview
The Mitsubishi HC7900DW is relatively small for a home theater projector. The HC7900 DW is the middle of the Mitsubishi home theater projector lineup.
In the Mitsubishi projector line-up, the HC7900DW is straddled by their new LCoS based HC8000D projector on the high end of performance, and the rather vintage (now under $1500) HC4000 on the low. The HC9000D won our Best In Class award last year, we have yet to review its replacement, the new HC8000D.
Other than the HC7900DW projector's shift from black case to white, the hardware is basically the same. Same lens, same inputs...Beyond that, however, there are a number of improvements, as one would expect. (If not, they could have just called it the HC7800DW instead of the HC7900DW.) Contrast is upped to 150,000 from 100,000, as an example.
The 1.5:1 manual zoom lens, has a pretty good zoom range for a home DLP projector. That provides you with more placement flexibility than most of the DLP competition, and allows the HC7900DW projector to compete with most LCD and LCoS projectors in terms of placement flexibility. Of course that statement is only true because it has vertical lens shift, as do all the competing 3LCD projectors anywhere near it's price, including the Epson Home Cinema 5020 ($2599) and the Panasonic PT-AE8000 ($2999), which are almost certainly the two best selling over $2000 home theater projectors.
This is a fairly well equipped projector. The Mitsubishi HC7900 has creative frame interpolation for smooth motion. It also offers a full CMS (color management system) for calibrating the projector.
The HC7900DW comes with a remote control, which I think is rather dated, but it will be discussed in the Remote section of the Tour page (the next page). When it comes to audible noise, DLPs tend to be a bit noisy. The HC7900 is not a real exception to that tendency, but it is a bit quieter than most DLPs. It does get fairly quiet in its low power setting. I find it to be slightly quieter than the Epson HC5020 when comparing both at full power. Considering the big lamp life difference between full and eco-mode, if the bucks are tight, you'll want to run in eco-mode.
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 the HC7900DW exhibits the overall picture quality - the look and feel - that has, over many years, had a lot of people preferring DLP projectors.
Let's take a closer look at the Mitsubishi HC7900DW.
Mitsubishi HC7900DW Projector Highlights
- 3D capable, supports both 720 and 1080i/1080p 3D, including Blu-ray 3D and all DirecTV 3D content I have recorded
- 3D glasses, and required 3D emitter are not included in the price
- Physically small for a home theater/entertainment projector, white case fits better in family room environments
- Very good, comprehensive color controls - calibrates very nicely
- Great lamp life in eco-mode: up to 5000 hours
- Excellent warranty!
- Creative Frame Interpolation for smooth motion
- Sold through authorized local dealers
- A really fine projector for small to medium screens!
Specs for Mitsubishi HC7900DW
Technology: Single chip DLP
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: Manufacturer claim: 1500 lumens Calibrated we measured 701 lumens. maximum was 1315, but maximum watchable: 1022
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: 12.6 lbs. (5.7 Kg)
Warranty: 3 Year Parts and Labor
View full specifications: Mitsubishi HC7900DW
Mitsubishi HC7900DW Special Features
Adding 3D to the HC7900DW
True, the HC7900DW is 3D capable, but you will need a couple things before you watch your first 3D movie. Besides the 3D movie itself, you'll need a 3D emitter which plugs into the input panel. And you will also need 3D glasses. Those will be the usual active shutter glasses. This Mitsubishi HC7900 uses "universal" glasses, specifically glasses from xPand, such as the 103 and 105 series.
The 3D emitter is $99. Mitsubishi does not sell 3D glasses, but there are a number of choices out there with varying prices. When manufacturers sell glasses, these days $100 is a common price, but 3rd party can be found for under $40. The better glasses out there should be lightweight, preferably be rechargeable (instead of needing new batteries every 30 - 40 movies). For comparison purpuses, we'll consider glasses to cost $99 each. (There are 3rd party glasses for lower costs available for most 3D projectors).
3D Gaming with the Mitsubishi HC7900DW: Lag Times!
DLP projectors are usually fast, when it comes to minimizing those pesky lag times, and this Mitsubishi HC7900DW makes an excellent gamer based on rather minimal lag times. As you can see from the image on the right, there is a 34 milli-second delay, between the screen of my MacBook Pro (bottom) and the image projected from the Mitsubishi HC7900DW. By comparison, this is a similar lag time to the Panasonic PT-AE8000, which in Game mode was in the 37 ms. range. The HC7900DW is definitely faster than the Epsons - all versions of the HC3020, HC5020, and PC6020, which all seem to be at 50 ms, at their best - which is "just fast enoough" for most serious gamers. the Mitsubishi, is, therefore reasonably fast for hard core gaming, even if some others are even faster.
That's what my gamer/bloggers tell me, in any case: 50: OK, 35: very good, below 20: Excellent. That's a rough summary, but the bottom line is that very few serious gamers will have an issue with this projector's lag-times.
HC7900 and the Rainbow Effect
I already mentioned that this Mitsubishi projector is a single chip DLP projector. I better mention now, that it has a dual speed six segment wheel running at 4X or 6X, The 6X is just what I need for movie viewing, or at a slower speed, perhaps for sports where everything is fairly bright - and rainbows don't appear. I'm rainbow sensitive but this projector was at least as free of rainbows as any DLP I can ever remember when I was watching 24fps movies! With most projectors I see rainbows at least occasionally on just about every dark scene. As a result, this is a DLP projector that should not scare off the "Rainbow sensitive", beause of seeing those pesky rainbow artifacts.
HC7900DW Lamp Life
The Mitsubishi HC7900'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 HC7900DW, 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 HC7900 mostly in low power (eco-mode), you will have a quieter projector and a much lower cost of operation. At full power, though, all of the competition claims to get at least the same 2000 hour lamp life, but most now offer more. Several popular competing projectors have lamps they to be 4000 hours at full power (and the same 5000 hours in eco as the HC7900). Remember, this is not one of the really bright projectors out there, so you may find it hard to stick to using eco-mode.
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.
The HC7900 offers image correction capable of handling digitally a wide range of setups. We recommend sticking to lens shift, but this will do in a pinch, for horizontal correction. (There's no horizontal lens shift on this projector.) With Mitsubishi's focus on using this projector in a wide range of rooms, it is even capable of correcting for some pretty off center / off angle work.
HC7900DW Projector - 3D Performance
The Mitsubishi HC7900DW is fully 3D capable. As mentioned above, optional are the 3D glasses and the Emitter (which plugs into the rear of the projector). I watched 3D using a pair of provided xPand 3D glasses that had "for Mitsubishi" on them. 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 close to 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 today's 3D capable projectors. Thus, those of us who like 3D, need to take 3D brightness into consideration.
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 HC7900DW 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 this is part of one very cool 3D animation. Colors looked rich and this scene looked great in 3D, with, as expected, no visible crosstalk.
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. As it seems to be with single chip DLP projectors, only one setting, no crosstalk. 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. Even if we go by brightest mode claim of 1500 lumens, there are a few other competing projectors touting 2000-2400 lumens.
In a theater environment, 110" is about as big as the Mitsubishi HC7900DW projector should tackle with a normal screen. 100" sounds good in a family room with some reasonable lighting control.
With really high gain screens, of course you can go a lot larger, but the trade-offs can be rather noticeable. They are not my taste, altough they do have a following.
Let's talk about picture quality! In 3D, the Mitsubishi HC7900DW 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 fully happy with the brightness at 100". With other projectors such as the Epson or the Panasonic, both of which are dramatically brighter in 3D, it was not unusual for me to fill a 124 inch 2.35:1 screen, although at that size, they too were definitely not bright.
Bottom line on 3D performance for the Mitsubishi HC7900DW 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 HC7900DW simply doesn't have the muscle in 3D. But then, we're saying this is a projector better suited for smaller to medium sized room and screens.
Mitsubishi HC7900 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. If anything, Mitsubishi spends a lot of ink touting how superior their 2D to 3D processing is.
In the past, I haven't been a really big fan of 2D to 3D conversion. I figure it's a lot of fun with personal videos, but, in general too often you notice weird things when converting 2D content to 3D. An example: A street light in the background, where the pole seems to be on this side of the street, but the light across the street. This HC7900DW seems particularly good converting 2D to 3D. I say that, but know I rarely play with 2D to 3D for more than 10 or 15 minutes, if that.
I really don't watch 2D to 3D, but for those really interested in 2D to 3D, this HC7900DW should be a top choice.
HC7900DW Creative Frame Interpolation - CFI - smooth motion
The HC7900 offers CFI (Creative Frame Interpolation). This allows the Mitsubishi HC7900 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 often described as changing the Director's intent, replacing film-like quality with a soap opera kind of look or "live digital video" effect.
To make things interesting, this Mitsubishi, when creating intermediate frames from 24 fps content (movies), creates 4 frames between each two. That takes it to 120 hz, instead of the usual 96 hz. Mitsubishi claims that their CFI maintains the "film like" feel while providing smooth motion.
As with most home theater projectors we review, I'm not a big fan of CFI for movies. This Mitsubishi's CFI may be s a very good one, but not good enough to still seem film natural. I wouldn't use it for movies. Your call!
That said, be aware that many folks including younger people like my college age daughter, 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 just doesn't care if it's on or off when she's watching. In other words - you (as the person "most into" home theater) 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.