Mitsubishi HC4000 Projector Review

Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. Sharp XV-Z15000

This is a tough one. I really would have liked to have had both projectors here for a side by side comparison. Again, we are looking at two DLP projectors, both with especially good color and skin tones.

The Sharp XV-Z15000 definitely has the advantage in black levels. It does particularly well in this regard. While I can’t be certain, it’s likely that if you turned off the Sharp’s dynamic iris, the Sharp and the HC4000 would have similar black level performance. But, the Sharp does have the dynamic iris, and the better black levels.

There are lots of trade-offs though. The Mitsubishi HC3800 has the sharper image of the two, or rather, they are similar at the point where you focus, but the further you move from that point, the more difference. The Sharp’s sharpness, (did I really write that), rolls off faster to the sides and corners. Overall, the HC3800 will look a touch sharper.

Currently there seems to be about a $500 – $600 price differential.

HC3800 vs. Optoma HD20

This is perhaps the comparison of interest to the most people. Both are DLP 1080p projectors, but the Optoma is down at $999, and everyone seems to want to know if the HC3800 is worth the difference. My take is yes, if you’ve got the bucks, go for it. The Optoma does just fine, but isn’t as refined. First of all it’s a noisy projector, even compared tot he HC3800 which isn’t particularly quiet. It also seems to throw a lot of heat (it’s very small even compared to the HC3800). It also leaks light out the front, although not enough to be a big problem. Black levels are not as good as the HC3800 either, but the HD20 is very good on shadow details, at least as good as the HC3800.

Ultimately, picture quality is similar, but the HC4000 has the advantage, thanks to the black levels. The Mitsubishi has more placement flexibility

Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. BenQ W1000

The BenQ W1000 has not shipped as of the publication of the HC3800 review.

Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. Panasonic PT-AE3000

Ahh! Very interesting, but the PT-AE3000 is pretty much history, and the PT-AE4000 is coming soon, but not reviewed. Fundamentally, although the PT-AE4000 is improved, both old and new share the same differences with the HC3800. The Panasonic projectors are 3LCD. They will definitely have a softer image, in part because the HC3800 is a very sharp DLP, and partially because Panasonic uses their SmoothScreen Technology, to make pixels essentially invisible, but sharpness while respectable is a little soft by comparison to the HC3800.

I describe the Panasonic as rather film-like, but it’s got nothing on the HC3800 in that regard. Where the real difference is, is the black levels. They are a definite step up (to the AE3000) and likely more to the AE4000. It’s enough difference to really matter. As a bonus, the Panasonic has creative frame interpolation, and their Lens Memory feature for those that want to go with 2.35:1 screens for no letterboxing on Cinemascope movies.

Placement flexibility also favors the Panasonic. But the older Panasonic isn’t a match for the Mitsubishi HC4000 projector, which has almost twice the lumens in best mode. The newer Panasonic is reported to be brighter, but still short of the HC3800.

Movie fanatics likely will favor the Panasonic thanks to the black level performance, but the Panasonic has nothing on the HC3800 when it comes to other aspects of picture quality including skin tones, and overall color handling. The Panasonic, though, is a feature laden projector, more bells and whistles than almost anything else around. Hard to resist.

The PT-AE4000 launches at $1999 in the US, and will likely street price for $500 – $600 more. I should be reviewing it in a few weeks of this writing. For my take on how it stacks up to this Mitsubishi projector, check the competitive section of that review.

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