HD1000U Projector Review: Summary, Pros, Cons
Welcome to the first of a new generation of low cost home theater projectors. The Mitsubishi HD1000U (link to specs) looks to be one of the very least expensive new 720p resolution projectors hitting the market this fall. Right now it looks like an excellent overall value, although we may come to find over the next few months that this projector is just typical of the newest crop of projectors priced from $999 to $1999. Excellent out of the box color performance, and a bright image are its main strengths. The HD1000U cannot match the black levels of some slightly more expensive models, but, but does do a good enough job that all, but those demanding a higher level of technical performance, will not be bothered by the black levels. On the other hand, it does a very good job in terms of shadow detail, and is better than a number of more expensive projectors in this regard.
Watching the HD1000U is very enjoyable - natural, film-like. It is just easy to watch. That first viewing of Phantom of the Opera, gave me that feeling, and now after logging around 20 hours on the projector, rewatching the same portions of Phantom, and my opinion hasn't changed at all.
Time to summarize.
- Very bright projector
- Good shadow detail
- Menus, almost all functionality on just four main menus
- Very good manual, comprehensive, good level of explanation on most functions
- Minimal maintainence - no filters to clean, replace lamp when needed (2000 hours full power, 3000 hours low power)
- Brilliant Color processing provides rich images
- 10 bit color processing for smoother gradiations
- Very quiet in low power mode
- Very film-like, natural, easy to watch
- Price Performance
- Ease of Use
- Dim lighting on remote control
- Limited range of zoom lens (typical of DLP projectors), Lacks placement flexibility of LCD competitors
- Lacking a 2nd HDMI input
- Large amount of lens offset, requires projector to be placed well above or below the screen surface
- Moderate noise levels in full power mode
- No lens shift (the "rule" for under $2500 DLP projectors)
- Light leakage
- One year warranty
- Must unmount the projector to change the lamp
- Remote functionality
- Lamp life
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HD1000U vs Panasonic PT-AX100U
The Mitsubishi HD1000U projector really isn't a direct competitor to the Panasonic, in terms of price. Whereas, the Panasonic starts out with a street price very close to the $1999 MAP (minimum advertised price), the Mitsubishi launched at $1495, complete with a free spare lamp. Now, most lamps list for right around $400 and few can be purchased for much less than $350. For purposes of my reckoning, I'm going to place the value of the spare lamp, therefore, at a conservative $300. To me that means that the HD1000U projector is, maybe 2/3s the price of the Panasonic, so many of the buyers will be those who find the Panasonic to be out of their budget
Update 11/20/2006 - Hold the presses. Effective today, Mitsubishi has cancelled the free lamp promo, instead, replacing it, with something much better: The HD1000U home theater projector now has a list price of only $995, compared to $1495 yesterday. This represents a significant net price reduction, allowing far more home theater enthusiasts to afford the basic buy-in price.
But, back to the Panasonic. First of all, even though the HD1000U is very bright. In full power, brightest mode, it can't match the even brighter Panasonic, but in Cinema mode, optimized for best movie watching, it is every bit as bright, actually a touch brighter. Very impressive! The Panasonic's big advantages are brightness in brightest mode, and placement flexibility. (And a much better remote control!)
I see this as the most similar competitor, both bright (the HD1000U is the brighter of the two), both offer similar lens offset, both use a similar Darkchip2 DLP chip, although the HD72 is 1280x768 resolution (as opposed to 1280x720 on the HD1000U), but both chips allow use of TI's Brilliant Color processing. The Optoma is priced at $1999 but there is more than a little discounting. Still, that gives the HD1000U a significant pricing advantage. The HD72's AI may give it a slight edge in black levels, although the HD72 runs its slightly louder fan, at full speed in AI mode. The Mitsubishi has better out of the box color, and the Optoma has a 2 year warranty vs the HD1000U's one year.
The Optoma, by comparison is still hundreds more, so the HD1000U is looking really good.
This new $999 projector, like the HD72, is very similar to the HD1000U. The Optoma has the lower price (update 11/20/06 - they are now the same price), and based on claims, and the buzz out there, its not as bright, more on the high side of average. The Optoma has 8 bit processing not the 10 bit processing of the HD1000U. We look forward to reviewing the HD70 in the next couple of weeks (10/06), at which time we will comment on the differences between these two home theater projectors.
The HC3000, now nearing the end of its life, originally sold for close to $3000. These days, though it can be found for close to $1500. What you get for your money if you choose the HC3000, is especially excellent black levels, and shadow details that are a full step up in quality from the HD1000U. You also get a projector of more average brightness, not being able to match the HD1000U. I suspect the HC3000's sales will suffer a bit due to the HD1000U, as many will save five hundred, and still get a projector with similar overall performance and "feel", by basically sacrificing only on black levels and shadow detail.
Tthe HD1000U turns out to be a rather excellent value, regardless of the competition.and surpasses another well established bright projector, the Optoma HD72, which is also DLP, and more similar to the HD1000U overall. Then there's another projector of note, Optoma's new entry level $999 HD70, which we haven't reviewed yet, certainly, it is less expensive, but may lack the video performance, starting with the HD70's 8 bit processing, compared to 10 bit processing on the HD1000U (and most projectors). (Editors note: The HD70 has since been reviewed) -art
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Epson Cinema 400
The Epson Cinema 400, like the Panasonic PT-AX100U is significantly brighter in brightest mode, but alternately, the HD1000U is brighter than the Epson, with both in their best modes. (Cinema for the HD1000U, Theater Dark 1 and 2 for the Epson.) Epson has more range in its zoom, plus lens shift. On the other hand, the Epson is particularly noisy in its other modes. As a typical LCD projector, the pixels are more visible on the Epson, so most people would sit a little further back to avoid pixel visibility and screen door effect. The Epson sells for a bit more, but has a better warranty. The Epson would also be a logical alternative to those bothered by the rainbow effect.
The IN72 is a lower resolution projector, with 480p resolution vs. 720p. As a result the InFocus requires you sit further back to avoid seeing pixels. The HD1000U is much brighter. The InFocus though has big time wife appeal, with its styl'n case. The InFocus, I believe will also do a better job on black levels. With current pricing rebates have the InFocus down to $999 I believe without any dealer discounting, so the IN72 provides a low cost alternative that has the black level advantage.
The HD1000U is priced right - it is positioned as significantly less expensive than all but one of its 720p competitors, the Optoma HD70, and is now priced at the same $995 as that projector (recently reviewed), and though some competitors can exceed the HD1000U's performance in different ways, the overall blend of brightness, image quality, and price, make the HD1000U an excellent overall value.
Image above from Starship Troopers - click image for larger version.
The Mitsubishi HD1000U has been awarded our Hot Product Award, for its price/performance value. The HD1000U should logically appeal to those seeking a brighter projector to watch movies with modest ambient light, or on really large screens, or who like sports and HDTV in brighter rooms. This is the lowest priced bright home theater projector today. As an added bonus, even though image performance can be improved slightly with adjustment, the HD1000U it produces a great image right out of the box.