Mitsubishi HC7900DW - Review Summary
Time to summarize many of the discussions on the previous pages. For those of you who have read the entire review, no surprises. For the rest of you, this page should give you a pretty darn good idea of how the HC7900 projector performs, its greatest strengths, its most noticeable limitations, and hopefully, a good understanding as to whether this projector is for you. Enjoy!
11/26/12 - Art Feierman
Mitsubishi HC7900DW Projector - The Bottom Line
The top two strengths of the Mitsubishi HC7900DW projector are the general 2D picture quality, and image sharpness (without fancy dynamic features attempting to "add" sharpness or "detail").
Consider the HC7900DW to be an excellent 2D projector, especially for more of a home theater with lighting control, than a family room. That's due to the 700 calibrated lumens. True, there's roughly 1200 lumens maximum, in watchable modes, but that leaves this projector without the real muscle of some of the competitors for the family room slot, that can muster 2000 lumens. The same is true for 3D, in that, sure, you can watch 3D, but consider this a projector more fine for those not committed to 3D but do want to "play with it".
I referred to the HC7900DW as a projector best in condos. I say that because it goes back to the lack of lumens for a larger screen in a less than ideal room situation. In a dedicated home theater, this projector can, and will do an excellent job in 2D, on screens up to 120" without difficulty, when it's producing its best picture! Now that makes for one fine home theater projector.
So, again: The HC7900DW is a very good choice in smaller bonus / family / living rooms, using small to medium sized screens. In a theater or cave, though, you can really enjoy that larger screen. Keep in mind, it's hard to find bright DLP projectors, so, with 700 lumens calibrate, it's got more than most of the DLP competition, making it a top choice for those who like the DLP look and feel to an image. (Rich, without being over the top, is one way I describe the color.)
Move the projector into more of a family room / living room environment, and pair it with the right screen for the room (and, of course a reasonable room - with no beams of sunlight pouring in...), and size really comes down to the room, and whether you are watching those movies in the daytime, or just evenings. This is the stuff you have to sort out. Just remember, the Mitsubishi HC7900DW produces an excellent picture in terms of skin tones and other color aspects!
Pause (for lecture): When I am talking about "smaller screens", let me clarify for those of you never previously having owned a projector. I'm thinking between about 82 inches diagonal to 110 inches diagonal as "smaller to medium." (Large starts over 110".)
Your 65" LCDTV by projector standards is downright "tiny". I was in a Best Buy over the shopping weekend, and saw 70" LCDTV's on display, and wow, they really looked "humongous" compared to the 50" inchers near by. Well, next time you're in Best Buy, take a look. When you see a 50 and a 70 near each other, realize that the increase from 70 to 100" is a slightly greater increase than going from 50 to 70. Further a 110" screen makes a 70" seem downright small or "cute".
More importantly, when you get to projector sized images, you enter a world where the screen is large enough to get immersed in the picture. (If that wasn't the case, no one would go to the movie theaters, we'd all be happy watching James Bond, or Transformers, or Hurt Locker on our 40" LCDTVs. OK, enough.
If you take your movies seriously, and want best color, we'd still recommend having the HC7900DW calibrated. If that's not going to happen, definitely try our settings. They should do visibly better than the defaults, and it shouldn't take you more than 5-10 minutes to figure out how to, and put in all our settings and save them. (No, you don't need to be a techie, just clever enough to use menus, and change a few numbers).
HC7900DW Color and Overall Picture Quality
Skin tones are excellent. When I did do side by sides of best modes compared to the Panasonic PT-AE8000, I have to say that as good as the Panny did, the HC7900DW looked a touch better. (That DLP "thing" I suppose.) Consider: Panasonic (calibrated) on the left, HC7900DW on the right.
Overall, once calibrated (try our settings if you aren't going to spend to calibrate), it's going to be tough to find better skin tones.
Shadow detail is also excellent.
For a projector in the price range, my only real complaint is with black level performance. This projector certainly does well enough, but black level performance while being "ultra-high contrast" (good blacks) is not a match for the best projectors in the price range. For those of us really into blacks, consider this projector just acceptable, compared to, say the Sony or Epson.
HC7900 DW Projector - Brightness for 2D viewing:
The HC7900 was measured at701 lumens calibrated, with the zoom at mid-point! That's pretty good. It's almost 15% brighter than the Panasonic and a few % brighter than the Epson competition. Most of the other DLP projectors in the price range, as well as some of the LCoS projectors (Mitsubishi's own HC9000D and most JVCs), are in the same ball park or less bright.
That 701 lumens is in full power mode (a little noisy, but not exceptionally so), is with Brilliant Color Off. The HC7900DW is definitely visibly better with BC turned off if you are looking for the best possible picture. But if you turn it on, the HC7900 still looks pretty good, although definitely less natural. Still, Brilliant Color gets you an extra 35% more brightness, when needed.
That's basically what we use for brightest mode - turn on Brilliant Color - say for sports viewing, using the calibrated Cinema mode (in AV Memory 1). You then, I suggest, save the version with BC on and a boost in contrast, in AV2 as your "Brightest" mode.
The brightest alternative is to change the color temp of the Mitsubishi to High Brightness - but, to me, that's pretty much unwatchable, the green is so dominant, and you can't adjust that setting. (See what it looks like compared to "best" mode by clicking here). Too bad, really. If they provided enough control, maybe the ugly 1300+ measured lumens, might have yielded a more watchable 1200 or 1250 lumens, more than we can find in other modes.
So, with good calibrated brightness, why the "smaller room" theme? That's due to maximum brightness. If you forget its ugly brightest mode, this projector is about average for a brightest picture, and that means, in family room / living room type settings, you really don't have much to work with to deal with any real ambient light. Consider that you have choices in the price range that are up to about twice as bright (also uncalibrated modes).
HC7900 Projector - 3D Brightness:
First of all, in a family room, even with a smaller screen, figure you will want save your 3D viewing until nighttime if you have any real ambient light present in the day time. Every projector gives up more than 50% and up to about 75% of brightness in 3D. Each year 3D gets brighter, but let's assume the loss is still 2/3 (last year we assumed 75% loss). That takes 1100 lumens and knocks it down to under 400 lumens, which technically is barely enough for a 100" screen with no ambient light.
With a basic white screen with typical modest gain: 1.3 to 1.4, I think the HC7900DW is best doing 3D on screens 92" diagonal or less. At 100" diagonal I was personally never satisfied with brightness in 3D, and that's in a very dark theater. The call, though is yours. As I said, I tend to demand a bit more brightness than a decent number of my readers.
The Very Bottom Line on the HC7900DW projector:
Love the color! Love the sharpness. I really did enjoy watching the HC7900DW as long as I didn't go too large an image. In 2D, no problem watching a 2.35:1 movie filling my full 124" diagonal 1.3 gain screen in my theater.
Black level performance of the HC7900 is definitely "ultra-high contrast", but it is more in line with the Panasonic (at the low end of the range) and well below the Epson and Sony which are the best in the under $3500 range. For most it's just fine. For us "serious" enthusiasts, it's acceptable, but "could defnitely be better." (I feel the same way about the Panasonic PT-AE8000.)
The overall brightess we've discussed isn't a problem, it simply sets limits on what type of room setup the HC7900DW should go in, and the number of folks who will find it a really good match for their viewing preferences and environment.
Overall, a very impressive projector. It's not the right one for my room, and my tastes (which include lots of sports with intentional ambient light present), but it might be a great projector for you, especially if movies are really your "focus".
I believe that there are enough other really good competing projectors out there - most of which are brighter, that you consumers have lots of choice. DLP fans in particular, though, should give this one a close look.
That said, the HC7900DW does have a lot going for it, and it will be a great choice for a good number of people, especially those demanding great color and sharpness. As a result, I "determined" that our Hot Product Award was the right one for the Mitsubishi HC7900DW projector, primarily because of the excellent handling of skin tones.
I have mixed feelings about Mitsubishi's switch from black case last year, to white this year. I find it a better theater projector (where ambient lighting is under your control), than a family room projector, but, any way I slice it, this DLP projector is what we have always described as at least average brightness (more calibrated). It's just that you can buy competing projectors that can break 2000 lumens, and that has to be a big advantage with ambient light and lighter color walls.
If you are a DLP fan, and the brightness and feature set of the Mitsubishi meets your needs, then consider the HC7900DW projector to be one of the best choices available to you.
Mitsubishi HC7900DW Projector: Pros and Cons
Mitsubishi HC7900DW Projector: Pros
- A brighter than average 701 calibrated measured lumens in "best" mode, is enough for a reasonably large screen for movie viewing in a fully light controlled environment, or good viewing on 100" with modest ambient light.
- Excellent overall color, and especially skin tones
- Very good dark shadow detail (but not near "best in class")
- Zoom lens for good placement flexibility
- No problem with any 720p or 1080i/p content from any DirecTV 3D channel, or Blu-Ray 3D
- Optional 3D glasses and emitter provide plenty of range for 3D
- Good looking CFI (for smooth motion)
- Lamp Life is excellent (rated 5000 hours) in Eco Mode
- Low maintenance - no filters to change
- Lamp can be replaced without unmounting the projector
- Dynamic iris very smooth
- Excellent warranty: 3 years parts and labor
- A smaller projector, fits nicely in smaller rooms
Mitsubishi HC7900DW Projector: Cons
- Could be brighter in "brightest modes"
- Actual "brightest" measured mode - is unwatchable (but others come close)
- Lamp life is below average if you run at full power for the most brightness
- Black level performance could be further improved (though not bad for the price)
- Fair amount of audible noise at full power, but many other good projectors are louder (including most other DLPs)
- 3D glasses and are optional (just a reminder)
- Encountered a minor glitch or two coming out of 3D mode to 2D, but not a problem
- Remote is dated, backlight dim, buttons soft
- Definitely could use additional user memory positions
Just a couple of last images for your amusement! Fini! (above, from The Fifth Element)
Above, from Red: A typical darker scene where DLP's in general - and this HC7900DW - look especially good - with that DLP "look and feel"
Above, from The Three Musketteers, Below: From the video Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D: (in 2D)
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