Mitsubishi HC8000D Home Theater Projector Review
Mitsubishi's new HC8000D home theater projector (first shown at the CEDIA show last fall), has a manufacturer-suggested list price of $2,999 and it's sold by local installing authorized dealers. It is a 2D and 3D capable projector, but, please note, the $2999 price does not include the necessary 3D emitter, nor any 3D glasses. Figure an extra almost $500 to add 3D with two pair of glasses. That puts it in line, pricewise, with several direct competitors.
This Mitsubishi projector itself is DLP based, a single chip design. It is 2D and 3D. The HC8000D projector, replaces last year's HC7800, (which is also replaced by the similar HC7900DW which we already reviewed). The D in HC8000D, I presume reminds us that this is a DLP projector.
2-1-2013 - Art Feierman
Mitsubishi HC8000D Projector Overview
The Mitsubishi HC8000D is intended for the proverbial cave, or dedicated home theater. It comes finished in a black shiny case, which blends in nicely with the dark surfaces usually found in a home theater.
For those more interested in putting this projector in a family room, living room, etc., the HC8000D has the $500 less expensive, similar HC7900DW. That projector is finished in white (as is appropriate for those types of rooms).
Contrast for the HC8000D is upped to 330,000, that's more than double the HC7900DW's 150,000:1 and in its own right, an extremely impressive number for on/off contrast.
From a performance standpoint, the emphasis of the HC8000D projector is in delivering that higher contrast, "blacker blacks" - better black levels. The trade-off, is that this HC8000D projector is almost a third less bright than the family room projector, in terms of both calibrated lumens and maximum usable lumens. Of course being in a really dark room compared to a "family room environment", should balance things out a good deal.
We'll discuss how that plays out in terms of black level performance, as usual, on the Image Quality page of this review.
In the Mitsubishi projector line-up,consider these two projectors to otherwise be identical. Mitsubishi is still offering the more expensive HC9000D, an LCoS projector (using Sony panels), that is a couple of thousand dollars more. The HC9000 launched just about a year and a half before this review, but is approaching end of life. That will soon make the HC8000D the flagship of Mitsubishi home theater projectors. I have no indication that Mitsubishi will bring out a new projector above the HC8000D.
The 1.5:1 manual zoom lens, has a better than typical zoom range for a home DLP projector. That provides about as much placement flexibility as almost any other DLP projectors for the home. It allows the HC8000D 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 its price, including the Epson Home Cinema 5020 ($2599) and the Panasonic PT-AE8000 ($2799), which are likely the two best selling over $2500 home theater projectors.
This is a fairly well equipped projector. The Mitsubishi HC8000 has creative frame interpolation for smooth motion. It also offers a full CMS (color management system) for calibrating the projector.
The HC8000D 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 HC8000D, like the 7900, is not a real exception to that tendency, but it is a bit quieter than most of the DLPs, especially compared to the less expensive ones. The HC8000D does get fairly quiet in its low power setting. I find it to be slightly quieter (more of a different pitch and a db or two, nothing dramatic) when compered to the Epson HC5020. I'm talking with both running at full power, which I confirmed when doing some side by side photos. Considering the big lamp life difference between full and eco-mode, if the bucks are tight, you'll want to run in eco-mode, assuming you still have enough brightness.
When it comes to the HC8000D projector, image quality is the key. Of course, we will discuss that a great deal, in the following pages,
Let's take a quick look at the Mitsubishi HC8000D's most interesting aspects:
Mitsubishi HC8000D Projector Highlights
- 3D capable, supports both 720 and 1080i/1080p 3D, including Blu-ray 3D and all DirecTV 3D content I have tried
- 3D glasses, and required 3D emitter are not included in the price
- You can buy lower cost "universal" glasses, or Mitsubishi's brighter proprietary glasses ($199 each.). Emitter is $99.
- Physically small for a home theater/entertainment projector, shiny black case works best in the home theater environment it's designed for
- 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 local authorized local dealers
- A really fine projector for small to medium screens!
Specs for Mitsubishi HC8000D
Technology: Single chip DLP
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: Manufacturer claim: 1300 lumens Calibrated we measured 465 lumens, maximum watchable 888 (both at mid-zoom) Absolute maximum measured was 1174, but "unwatchable"
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 HC8000D
Gandalf looks great (above), from LOTR - The Return of the King
Mitsubishi HC8000D Special Features
Adding 3D to the HC8000D
True, the HC8000D 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.
The 3D emitter is $99. Mitsubishi recommends either their new proprietary Mitsubishi glasses ($199), or universal glasses from 3rd party manufacturers such as XpanD. Their new proprietary glasses are expensive (most competitors are close to $100), although JVC's glasses were $179 at last look. (They too, charge $99 for their emitter.) These proprietary Mitsubishi glasses are moderately light, at 55.2 grams (almost two ounces). By comparison the Epson glasses are 34.2, the new JVC's are 37.8, and the Panasonic's came in just under 1 ounce. For reference, my lightweight regular glasses that I wear (which are very light) come in under 23 grams, and my Ray Bans weigh more than all of those mentioned except for these Mitsubishi glasses.
Here's the thing. If I have this straight, when viewing, you can use either the Mitsubishi's or the universal glasses, but not both at the same time. If you have friends who own universals they can bring them over, for larger groups. The proprietary Mitsubishi glasses, though are brighter, and use the High Speed setting in the 3D menu.
3D Gaming with the Mitsubishi HC8000D: Lag Times!
DLP projectors are usually fast, when it comes to minimizing those pesky lag times, and this Mitsubishi HC8000D should make an excellent gamer based on rather minimal lag times. We measured the lag times for the HC7900DW. There do not seem to be any differences that would affect the HC8000D differently, from a lag time standpoint. The image above is from our lag time test of the HC7900DW. 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. By comparison, this is a similar lag time to the Panasonic PT-AE8000, which in Game mode was in the 37 ms. range. The HC8000D would definitely be faster than the Epsons - all of the 1080p Epsons; the HC3020, HC5020, and PC6020, seem to measure 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: 50ms: acceptable, 35ms: respectable, below 20ms: Excellent. That's a rough summary.
Tthe bottom line is that very few serious gamers will have an issue with this projector's lag-times, even if they could be a bit better.
HC8000 6X Color Wheel vs. Rainbow Effect
The HC8000D uses 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 most of the the "Rainbow sensitive", beause of seeing those pesky rainbow artifacts.
HC8000D Lamp Life
The Mitsubishi HC8000'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 HC8000D, 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 HC8000 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 and HC8000.) Remember, this is not one of the really bright projectors out there, so you may find it hard to stick to using eco-mode.
No, those are not natural colors above. This scene has a colorized effect added - by the director, not the projector.
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.
Part of the superior contrast of the HC8000D compared to the HC7900, relates to the lens. The HC8000D's lens is officially less bright - and therefore higher contrast we assume. They rate it F 3.0-3.5 vs. F 2.4-2.8. Both have the same focal length (same sized image from same distance...)
The HC8000 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.
HC8000D Projector - 3D Performance
The Mitsubishi HC8000D 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 with Mitsubishi's new 3D glasses. They are reasonably light for active shutter glasses. These are "custom" for this projector (and probably its successors). Alternately, the HC8000D can use "universal" 3D glasses, including those from 3rd party brands like xPand. Mitsubishi touts their "custom" glasses, however as being noticeably brighter. As I did not have the xPand glasses still here from the HC7900DW review, I can't precisely comment, but, in comparing notes, I have to agree. I expect that these may be 20-30% brighter, based on what I considered reasonable for watching on a 100" screen on each model.
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 HC8000D in this case, measured in the 800-lumen range in 3D mode, but it seemed more like 1000 lumens. Which is to say, not that much for 3D.
In a theater environment, 100" is about as big as the Mitsubishi HC8000D projector should tackle with a normal screen, with Mitsubishi's proprietary 3D glasses. Knock off 10" of diagonal, give or take, if you will be using the universals. That's just an educated guess. When I tried to push it to fill my 124" I was hopelessly disappointed due to its inability to be even marginally "bright enough". 100" diagonal in 3D proved to be about as large as you want to go. I've definitely got a couple of friends who I doubt would watch most 3D content even at the 100" size in my theater. But, again, Mitsubishi builds projectors for small to medium sized screens. Over the years, they've rarely matched the competition in brightness, favoring other strengths. Don't get me wrong, I may want more lumens for 3D, but this is still a really fine 2D projector.
With really high gain screens, of course you can go a lot larger, but the trade-offs can be distracting to some of us (hotspotting, and edge roll-off,) plus a narrow viewing cone (few "good seats"). They are not my taste, altough they do have a following.
I definitely will say that this Mitsubishi HC8000D produces a very clean 3D image. It's got the usual image noise that we expect in 2D and 3D off of DLP projectors, which to me 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 With other projectors such as the Epson or the Panasonic, both of which are significantly 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 HC8000D 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 HC8000D 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 HC8000 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.
So far, I'm still not a 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. Like the HC7900DW, the HC8000D seems particularly good converting 2D to 3D. I say that, but sooner or later I see something that "doesn't work". Perhaps if the lower brightness and having to wear the glasses, weren't required, I'd have a more positive opinion of 2D to 3D conversion. That said, this Mitsubishi is about as good as I've seen. (Not that I've really devoted any significant effort to really comparing how the different projector brands do on 2D to 3D conversion).
As I said about the HC7900D, if you want to do 2D to 3D, this HC8000D should be one of the better ones.
After I wrote the paragraphs above, I decided last night to put on the first Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr., and watch it using 2D to 3D conversion. There are plenty of times that it really does an excellent job of converting 2D to 3D, but there were a number of scenes that still didn't look right. In particular, there are several scenes showing a meeting of British Parliament, I believe, with a couple hundred people packed into a room and at varying elevations, so lots of small heads and bodies. Bam! The second I saw that scene, my brain yells, that's not believable. You sort of get the feeling heads are just slightly detached from some of the bodies, and the vertical heights in the room seem slightly distorted. In another scene, one closeup of the female lead (her name eludes me), her hair in the back seems too far behind her head... These aren't "I can't watch this" severe problems, but they sure aren't "right". Let's just say Mitsubishi's done a pretty good job, but they are a long, long, long way from the industry saying: "we don't have to shoot in 3D to get 3D, we'll just let smart projectors (and the smaller displays) handle the conversion."
HC8000D Creative Frame Interpolation - CFI - smooth motion
I don't believe there are any differences between the HC8000D and the HC7900DW when it comes to CFI. Both have Creative Frame Interpolation. Using it is your call. This allows the Mitsubishi HC8000 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.
That said, as with most home theater projectors we review, I'm not a big fan of CFI on for movie viewing. This Mitsubishi's CFI may be pretty good, but not good enough to still seem film natural. I personally wouldn't use it for movies. Your call!
That said, it's true that many folks including 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 rather effortlessly, but she normally just doesn't care if it's on or off when she's watching. Perhaps she will become more "selective" in the future. 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. In this day and age, most newer LCDTVs that I observe in people's homes have CFI, (figure most of those that claim 120hz or higher) and in most cases, it seems they default to on. As I visit friends, I usually notice that they have CFI engaged. Of course until I tell most of them, they have no idea.
Time to move on. Let's look at the HC8000D's hardware.