Mitsubishi HC4000 Projector Review

Mitsubishi HC4000 Projector Highlights

  • Very good skin tones, both natural and rich looking (very classic DLP) post calibration, and impressively good right out of the box
  • Extremely bright in “best” mode, with over 600 lumens
  • Brighter than average in “brightest” mode too
  • Very good black level performance, considering no dynamic iris
  • The primary improvement (in blacks) due to an upgrade to a Darkchip3 performance DLP, from the Darkchip2 in the HC3800.
  • Typically limited placement flexibility as a DLP projector, with (in this case) moderate zoom range, and no lens shift
  • Dual anamorphic modes allow use of anamorphic lens for Cinemascope viewing (no letterbox) without needing an expensive motorized lens sled
  • Based on an estimated $1299 street price, the HC4000 could prove to be the best or one of the best projectors near its price, (as was its predecessor)

Mitsubishi HC4000 Projector Overview

First things first. The Mitsubishi HC4000 (click for specs) projector is very bright in “best” movie mode, and it’s got impressive color. And a low cost of operation! And other things, including a very reasonable price. Those are a few of the reasons it picked up the award.

Here’s a lower cost projector, in the form of the Mitsubishi HC4000 (info about Mitsubishi here), that can handle larger screens, even in its best mode. I like that, as someone with a 128″ high contrast gray screen (Firehawk G3). The HC4000 fills it rather effortlessly, in “best” mode, with Brilliant Color on, and can still fill it with BC off. Nice!

It’s not often we complete a review of a home theater projector based on working with a preproduction projector. Yet, that’s exactly the case here with our HC4000 projector review. Last year, the HC3800 we received was even earlier – call it an engineering sample, but then, this is now a 2nd generation projector from the HC3800 platform. We received the HC4000 about 3 weeks ago (August ’10), and have actually had to wait a few days to post, in line with Mitsubishi’s announcement.

Mitsubishi HC3800 projector Quantum of Solace image.

For those curious as to what the differences are between an engineering sample, and pre-production, well, the engineering sample last year – half the inputs didn’t even work… Everything works dandy on this HC4000 projector (but then, it is a 2nd generation projector, with mostly minor improvements).

Gandalf image from the Mitsubishi HC3800 projector.

We may take another look at a full production HC4000, just to see if brightness increases, or changes to the color tables (that would render our provided calibration settings worthless). If they change the color tables, we’ll recalibrate.

For those of you sensitive to the rainbow effect, the HC4000 projector should have less effect on you than most other lower cost DLP projectors. The HC4000 sports a 4x – that would be 14400 rpm – six segment color wheel. Much of the lower priced single chip DLP competition; BenQ W1000, Vivitek H1080, Viewsonic Pro8200, use 2x or 3x wheels and therefore should have more visible rainbows to those sensitive.

Most will find the HC4000 to be an excellent “little” and low cost 1080p home theater projector, worth considering if they are looking for a projector anywhere near the price.

HDTV image from the Mitsubishi HC3800 projector.

Some Basics: The HC4000 pricing is not yet set ( a few days before CEDIA as I write this) but it looks like $1495 MSRP, and based on the street prices of the older HC3800 it replaces, I think $1299 is a good number, for now, to quote as the projected street price. We shall see. The HC4000 is a DLP projector with 1080p resolution. As one of the lower cost 1080p projectors (the lowest are at $899), it is a basic home theater projector in several ways. For one, it has the usual rather limited placement flexibility of most lower cost DLP projectors. Also, while the HC4000 offers quite respectable black level performance, it does so without a dynamic iris, which means it can’t match more expensive DLP projectors (like the BenQ W6000) with irises, when it comes to the blackest blacks.

MIB image from the Mitsubishi HC3800 projector.

Being a fan of brighter projectors, I love that this Mitsubishi HC4000 projector is bright, in its best movie mode (it’s bright with Brilliant Color off, and even brighter with it on). It also has has a longer than average lamp life (to keep your long term ownership costs down), and has pretty impressive picture quality, with very impressive skin tones (like last year). This is an affordable projector that should please some rather picky potential owners, especially those into picture quality. Consider it a step up in performance from the real entry level priced 1080p projectors.

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