Mitsubishi HD1000U Home Theater Projector Review - Overview
10/6/2006 - Art Feierman
When I finished posting the previous review, an especially impressive $2000 home theater projector, the LCD based Panasonic PT-AX100U, I was concerned that the Panasonic might establish itself as the runaway leader among under $2000 projectors. Thus, with some concern, I started watching the new Mitsubishi DLP home theater projector, the HD1000U (link to specs),later on the same evening that I finished posted the Panasonic. Turns out, I need not have feared.
I'll deal with how Mitsubishi's HD1000U stacks up against the competition, in the Summary section, but let's say, like with the Panasonic, I was definitely impressed.
What Mitsubishi has done here, is come out with an "entry level" 720p home theater projector, at a price point well below their award winning HC3000, specifically, (updated 11/20/06) the HD1000U is now $995 list price, making it one of the two under $1000 720p home theater projectors now shipping. In fact, the two projectors are extremely similar, including coming in the same case (except that the HD1000U's is dark gray, whereas the HC3000 is off white). The HC3000 is a very competitive DLP home theater projector, and is generally regarded as rather exceptional in terms of producing "the blackest blacks" and excellent shadow detail. This is where the two projectors differ. The HD1000U lacks the dynamic iris of the HC3000, limiting to a degree, black levels and shadow detail, yet it still does an impressive job, comparable to other DLP and LCD home theater projectors that couldn't match the HC3000's performance in these areas.
In addition, without the dynamic iris, the HD1000U provides an overall brighter image than the HC3000 in its best mode. The HD1000U, in fact is especially bright in cinema mode. In brightest mode (Sports), it is still very bright, but a couple of other projectors can out lumen it. In best mode, though, not even the exceptionally bright Panasonic PT-AX100U can beat it. This combination of very good but not exceptional blacks, and lots of "horsepower" make the HD1000U especially excellent for those who love to watch movies, but can't fully darken their rooms. With even a little ambient light in your viewing room, you give up those "blackest blacks" and some shadow detail. The end result, therefore, with low ambient lighting, is that you basically would never know that that the HD1000U home theater projector wasn't quite as good (shadow detail and black levels) as some others in that regard.
The image above was photographed off of an HDTV cable feed, with low levels of ambient light in the room. (more on the room lighting conditions in the image quality section)
Considering the Mitsubishi's low price for a 720p home theater projector (not the lowest, but close), and that it does have some more advanced processing than the only other 720p projector that is shipping and selling for less, it's an excellent match for people who will watch movies in less than a pitch black room. This projector is going to have a large following of people for whom it matches up very well. And that right there, is why the HD1000U home theater projector picks up our Hot Product Award.
OK, I should have your attention now, so here are the basic specs, and then we'll start with a tour of the HD1000U projector.
Mitsubishi HD1000U home theater projector: Basic specs
Technology: Darkchip2 DLP front projector
Native Resolution: WXGA 1280x720
Brightness: 1500 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.2:1
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: 2000 hours full power, 3000 lumens eco-mode
Weight: 6.5 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year Parts and Labor
Review continues below this advertisement.
Mitsubishi HD1000U Projector: Physical Tour
Since the HD1000U shares the same case and overall layout as a number of Mitsubishi business and home theater projectors, I must confess to taking much of the content below from other reviews of Mitsubishi projectors I have reviewed, most notably the HC3000 home theater projector, and the HD4000 widescreen business projector.
From the front, the HD1000U is a compact projector, with its 1.2:1 ratio zoom lens center mounted lens. Thanks to the lens being centered, you don't have to calculate for a lens mounted off center, and, if ceiling mounting, won't have to compensate for where the ceiling mount (or shelf) needs to be placed.
For a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, the projector can be placed as close as 11.9 feet and as far back as 14.5 feet.
Just to the right of the lens is the front Infra-red sensor for the remote control. Below the lens, and slightly off-center, is the HD1000U's single front foot. It is screw thread adjustable for height. I should note that there are also 2 rear feet (at the far back on each side. These are also screw adjustable, but these two each have a drop release button as well. With all feet unextended, the projector projects the image upward slightly, relative to the projector placement.
Moving to the top, directly behind the lens are the manual adjustment rings for zoom and focus. Also on the top of the HD1000U, is the control panel.
The control panel itself is basic. In addition to a large power button, there are only six additional buttons, although several have two functions. Looking from the rear, the lower left button brings up the menu. Navigation is then handled by the four arrow keys, and in the center of those, the Enter button. When not using the menu, the up arrow doubles to handle auto setup, the left and right arrows do source selection (the left one computer, the right one, video).
The inputs are located on the back of the HD1000U. The selection is pretty standard: A single HDMI input for a digital source, one HD15 computer input for a typical analog computer source, or it can be used for a component video signal. Then, there is the usual 3 RCA jacks for Component video, allowing a total of 2 component video sources, if you aren't hooking up a computer. In addition there are the usual S-video and composite video inputs. The Mitsubishi HD1000U also has a serial port and USB for "command and control". Lastly, there's one "luxury" item, the HD1000U also sports a 12volt Trigger jack for controlling a compatible motorized screen (most motorized screens have 12 volt control as an option, some versions standard). Lastly, there is a second IR (infra-red) sensor for the remote, and the power receptical.
Review continues below this advertisement.
The HD1000U vents hot air out the front, away from the lens (to the right if you are looking from the back of the projector). This makes the HD1000U home theater projector viable for shelf mounting in the rear of your room, if that should work for your situation.
The projector's case, as noted, is dark gray, with the lens and some front trim (actually behind the grill) in black. As you can see from the image, the overall look is slightly sculpted with the top of the projector slightly higher in the center and lowering towards the left and right sides.
Jay Leno above, with low lighting levels in the room
Overall, the Mitsubishi isn't likely to win any design awards for its physical styling, but at least it isn't a basic rectangular box. Most important, however, is how the image looks on the screen. And that means it's time to explore the Mitsubishi HD1000U projector's image quality.