Mitsubishi HD1000U Home Theater Projector Review
There are certainly plenty of 720p resolution home theater projectors on the market for under $2000, however, the HD1000U (link to specs), is now one of the two least expensive 720p projectors on the market with its price reduced to $995 on 11/20/06 (the free lamp offer went away, with the $500 price drop). So, the price is great, the question is how does the HD1000U perform, in terms of image quality, and how it stacks up against primarily more expensive competition.
Let’s start with how well the HD1000U projector handles flesh tones. I have always been a proponent of the belief, that overall, this is perhaps the most important single aspect. If flesh tones look unnatural, it is going to immediately be far more annoying than, say, some loss of shadow detail, or less than stellar black levels.
Click to enlarge. So close. As you can see from the image of Gandalf, above, from Lord of the Rings, the flesh tone appears very natural (you may also click on the image for a larger version).
Also from Lord of the Rings (by the way, this is from standard DVD), is this image of Arwen, which exhibits an almost grayish caste to the skin color, which compares very well with my recollection of the movie in the theaters. (Lord of the Rings does have different color castes in use for almost every different part of Middle Earth, where the story takes place. It does seem a little softer in terms of reds, but that, in part is the result of inaccuracies in a quick calibration, and easily corrected.
standard DVD, in this case from the movie The Fifth Element, are shots of Leeloo, and below her, Bruce Willis. Both look extremely good, and natural.
Moving to HD-DVD, consider this image below from Phantom of the Opera (clicking on this image will provide a much larger version).
The skin tones are extremely believable. When I first received the projector, I hooked it up using just standard settings (Cinema…) and did watch about 30 minutes of Phantom. The results, even without adjustments are very similar to what you should be seeing here.
Quicktip: There are real limits to what you can get out of photos of projected images. My digital camera, lacks the dynamic range to get all the details from brightest to lowest, and, even more importantly, what the camera sees, what I see on my laptop display while cropping and resizing, and what you see on your monitor, are all going to be different. There is no viable way to calibrate your monitor to display accurately the colors that were projected, and even with a good camera, it too, is not going to precisely and accurately capture the colors seen on the screen. Nor can your monitor match the black levels these projectors produce. Bottom line: especially for color balance, take the images with a “pound of salt”. These images should impress, and sometimes can show flaws that exist, but they are there to complement the commentary and opinions put forth, not the other way around. As nice as they look, in this case, for accuracy, one might change old saying to “why use a picture, when a thousand words will do”. That may be the best advice.
Phantom, and considering the “stage lighting” the skin tones look great!
Overall I was extremely impressed with the flesh tone handling, even right out of the box, and with a basic calibration, they can be even more refined.
For comparison’s sake, I recently reviewed the new Panasonic PT-AX100U, one of the most impressive values I have ever seen (street price right below $2000), although half again more expensive. As noted in the review, the Panasonic after my (in that case, quick and mediocre) calibration, tended to be too rich in reds, and overall, colors were oversaturated a bit on the photos (both easily corrected).
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