Mitsubishi HC4000 Projector Review

How does the Mitsubishi HC4000 compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market?

The CEDIA tradeshow only two days away as I write this, and dozens of home theater models are sure to be announced there. For that reason, I’ll hold off on completing this page so I can comment on some of the new competition.

I’ll remove this paragraph when the page is completed. Until then, you are looking at the old HC3800 Competitors page (scroll down, or use the outline), which works, just remember that the HC4000 has slightly better blacks but measured very slightly lower in brightness.

Since the HC4000 was one of the first two “fall 2010″ home theater projectors, all the models we would normally compare it with are almost a year old, and almost all of them will be replaced in the upcoming weeks, with newer models. Since the HC4000 is so similar to the older HC3800, and we’ve discussed the differences at length, below you will find a repeat of the HC3800′s competitor’s pages. As more competitors are reviewed, look for how the HC4000 stacks up, in their competitor’s sections, which are newer.

HC3800 vs. Epson Home Cinema 8100 and Home Cinema 8500UB

The Home Cinema 8500UB really isn’t direct competition to the HC3800 projector. It is anticipated to sell for about twice the price and really is a higher performance projector, overall. The dramatic difference in black level performance really does make the Epson a better HC3800. And, the Epson also offers Creative Frame Interpolation, and other goodies, while, by comparison, the HC4000 is a pretty basic projector.

A far more interesting comparison is the Mitsubishi HC3800 against Epson’s Home Cinema 8100. I must confess, despite really liking the HC4000, I had expected, that when it came in, I would find the Epson to be the one I liked better. Of course one will be better for some folks and the other may be better for the rest.

Ultimately, though, I found the HC4000′s picture quality to be preferred, with better skin tones, and an overall richer color. It is also much brighter when comparing best modes.

There really is no significant difference in black level performance, despite drastically different contrast claims. The Epson claims 36,000:1 and the HC3800 only 4000:1. The Epson relies on a dynamic iris for the extra contrast, and the 8100 extended the range of the iris in this projector. The thing is, however, in most fairly dark scenes, and mixed scenes, the Mitsubishi actually has the slightly blacker blacks. In scenes that are all dark with no signficant bright or moderate areas, that’s when the Epson can get blacker than the Mitsubishi HC4000 projector. Those scenes, however are fairly rare, so overall I give the edge to the HC4000.

The Epson’s key strengths are the extra brightness in “brightest” mode (Dynamic), far superior placement flexibility and a slightly better warranty. For photos comparing brightness see this same section, in the Home Cinema 8100 review.

If you need the lumens, the Epson really does a good job. There’s nothing wrong with its color accuracy, or skin tones, the Mitsubishi though just impresses a touch more in picture. Both possess a lot of pop and wow!

Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. Mitsubishi HC5500, HC6800

The HC3800 replaced the HC5500, however, they are markedly different projectors. The old HC5500 was a 3LCD projector, while the HC3800 is DLP. The HC5500 cost about the same as the HC4000, at its lowest pricing with rebates. Picture quality – no comparison, as the HC4000 has better blacks and richer skin tones, and really has more pizzazz, overall. The older Mitsubishi was probably quieter, and the two aren’t too different in terms of brightness. All considered: No contest, while the HC5500 was a nice projector and a good value, but Mitsubishi has a really hot product in the form of the HC3800.

The more expensive HC6800 I haven’t seen as of this writing. It is a 3LCD projector, with more placement flexibility than the HC3800, and as a successor to the HC6500 it should be an impressive one. I liked the HC6500 but it was a bit pricey. The HC6800 is more competitively priced, should be quiet, similarly bright (that’s a real guess), and have slightly better black level performance. I should be reviewing in the next couple of weeks. We shall see.

Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z700

Last year, we considered the PLV-Z700 and the Mitsubishi HC5500 to be two of the most direct competitors around. They were the two least expensive 1080p projectors, both were 3LCD, but were rather different considering that.

Last year, the Sanyo had the placement flexibility advantage. This year, they still have it over the HC3800, even with the HC3800 having a longer range zoom (1.5:1) than the older HC5500 (1.2:1). Still from a placement flexibility standpoint, the Sanyo has the real advantage, as it also has vertical and horiztonal lens shift, allowing it to be shelf mounted.

The Sanyo PLV-Z700 was a bit dissapointing in terms of black level performance, despite a dynamic iris. Since I considered the HC5500 to be better (slightly) at blacks, the HC3800 should do a little better still, compared to the PLV-Z700.

I always liked the PLV-Z700 for movie watching, however, the picture just looked particularly good. In that regard, both projectors are very good for the movie enthusiast.

Warranties: Three years on the Sanyo, two on the Mitsubishi.

Tough call, overall, for movie watching, but the HC3800 is brighter in both “best” and “brightest” modes. Rainbows, placement, and warranty issues notwithstanding, I have to favor the Mitsubishi HC4000 projector.

Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. BenQ W6000

This is too easy. Just think of the HC3800 as a “poor man’s” BenQ W6000. The HC4000 is barely more than half the price. It lacks a dynamic iris (the W6000 has one – though not the smoothest), and overall the W6000 is a real step up in black level performance.

Both are very good at having that DLP look and feel, with rich deep colors, and very good skin tones. The two projectors side by side, are basically very similar in terms of screen image, but the BenQ W6000 definitely has the advantage. Both are very bright in “best” mode, and above average in brightness in brightest mode, but, again, the BenQ W6000 has a significant advantage.

The BenQ W6000, however comes with only a one year warranty.

Consider the W6000 to the the step up DLP projector for those willing to spend $1000+ more. As nice as the HC4000 is, the BenQ is worth the difference. I can’t think of any reasons, other than cost, or warranty that favor the Mitsubishi. They are two similar projectors overall, one simply is a more expensive unit with more performance.

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