Mitsubishi HC3 – Overview
The Mitsubishi HC-3 projector earns a Hot Product Award: Entry Level Home Theater Projector
I started this review by saying “I like this projector”. Perhaps I should say, I really like this projector! Unlike other competitively priced projectors (all of which are at least $100 more), this Mitsubishi projector has carved out its own niche. Most other projectors are designed with movie watching (in near pitch black rooms) as their first priority, and as I have said, that is not the real strength of this projector.
The Mitsubishi HC-3 projector is a great all-purpose projector, and it is especially fine for viewing sports, general HDTV/TV, and even gaming. (yes, break out that Playstation or X-Box). It’s not that the HC3 isn’t good for movie watching, just that there are others that are better. The HC3 is the brightest home theater projector around, without spending at least 3 times the price. It handles ambient light better than any other widescreen, low cost projector that I can think of, and that makes it more desireable for most buyers looking for a projector for a family room environment.
Now in the past, the type of shoppers who would find the HC3 ideal for them – ambient light, etc., would be forced to buy a 4:3 business projector to do the job, (projector’s like BenQ’s more expensive PB6200 with 1700 lumens is a good example). LCD projectors, however easily overpower DLP projectors with the same lumens rating (see DLP), so the Mitsubishi, in this case easily holds its own with that BenQ projector, yet offers the advantages of being widescreen, and offering more controls to perfect the image quality.
Colors are rich and fully saturated, and the picture always has a lot of “kick” – images seem bright and dynamic. Watching a basketball game let’s you really appreciate all that color saturation, yellow and red uniforms are vivid and overall the HC3 projector has “jump off the screen” colors.
There are a couple of downsides to this projector. Despite being higher resolution than competing DLP projectors, you still have to sit a little further back if you want to not see pixels at all, but almost twice screen with is an acceptable distance for the discerning, and I don’t think that this is anywhere as great an issue for sports fans, gamers and regular HDTV/TV watchers as it would be for hard core cinema buffs. (To keep this in perspective, if you have a 100″ screen the difference between best seating distance comparing the HC3 to the BenQ 5120 (my other favorite entry level widescreen projector), is only about 18″, so you can sit just a touch closer with the BenQ.
The low contrast ratio limits the ability of the HC3 do resolve dark shadow area detail. This is typical for LCD projectors (vs DLP). This is of concern when movie watching (with dark scenes), but pretty much a non-issue on TV/sports, etc. Note, though, this projector is much brighter than the competition, so if there is a small amount of ambient light in the room, it is likely to do every bit as good a job on shadow detail as those higher contrast DLP projectors, since the ambient light will immediately wipe out any differences.
The remote did not thrill me, but the bigger issue is the lack of one more input. You cannot have both a computer source and a component video source hooked up at the same time. That means that gamers are probably going to have to rely on S-video instead of component video, unless they have an A/V receiver with lots of switching. If you also want to have a computer hooked up, you will need a small switch box, but that is true of several other projectors.
- Best, brightest image for watching sports, TV, gaming
- Extremely dynamic colors
- Very good color accuracy
- Able to handle rooms that aren’t fully darkened – a family room/multipurpose room projector
- Great menu layout, and easy to use
- Higher resolution than most entry level HT projectors
- Small, attractive physical design
- Able to handle a larger screen size than the competition
- Noisier than most, may be noticeable on quiet movies, fine on TV/sports, etc.
- Unimpressive remote layout
- Lacking the ability to have a component video and a computer source hooked up at the same
- Lacking in shadow detail (ties to low contrast ratio)
- Zoom lens
Hot Product Award: Best Entry Level HT Projector (tied with BenQ PE-5120)
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