Mitsubishi XL1550U - and XL2550U Business Projectors Review - General Performance
There's lots to cover in this section. These links will allow you to quickly get to any topics of interest to you.
Mitsubishi XL1550U Menus
Mitsubishi XL1550U Remote Control
Lens Throw and Lens Shift, Pixel Structure...
SDE and Rainbow Effect
Mitsubishi XL155U Lamp Life
Mitsubishi XL1550U Projector Brightness
Mitsubishi XL1550U Audible Noise Levels
Other Projector Features
Mitsubishi XL1550U Menus
The Mitsubishi main menu consists of five small icons in the upper left hand of the screen (it can be moved). Each opens one of the major menus.
Overall, I only have one real issue with the menu system, and that is that when you have a feature, that has, say, four or five options, you normally have to toggle through them one at a time. I prefer a next level menu. That way, you see all the choices and pick the one you want.
Here's what the menus look like. The first icon selects the Image menu:
To work the controls, use the left and right arrows (right for up). That will let you increase, for example, the contrast, one step at a time.
The Color Enhancer mode, gives you four preset choices or a User defined. Most manufacturers tend to just call this option "Image mode" or Color Mode", so Mitsubishi gets a creativity award for cooking up "Color Enhancer". The four presets are: Presentation, Standard, Theater, and sRGB. Presentation is the punchiest, and best for presenting with significant ambient light. Standard seems to provide a slightly more natural image. Theater of course, is optimized for movies and videos, and is a little less bright. sRGB, designed for color matching, is, well, sRGB, which brooks no changes, so when in sRGB, you will not be able to affect changes to Color (saturation), Tint, Color Temperature, or the Wall Screen mode. There is an Auto option, which, ideally selects the best of these four modes, depending on the input source.
Lastly there is a User defined area, which offers a tremendous amount of flexibility. When you choose User, you now have three gamma choices - Dynamic, Natural, and Detail. In addition you have Color Saturation (RGB) and Color Tint (also RGB).
The Color Temp control offers three presets: Standard, Low (warm), and High (cool). In addition, you get separate controls for red, green and blue, for both contrast and brightness. This provides exceptional color tuning capabilities, on par with most home theater projectors, nevermind business projectors where color controls are often rather limited.
There is a sub-menu - Advanced, which is shown immediately below:
I didn't use the Noise Reduction feature - never found a need. CTI is never really explained (as in what CTI means), however, it is designed to deal with a type of color smearing. I tried the feature on a couple of images, but it had no apparent, or rather significant affect. No doubt you need the right type of problem for this feature to come into play.
Moving to the right, on the main menu, the second icon is the Installation menu.
Wall Screen, the first item lets the Mitsubishi Projectors adjust to using different color walls, instead of a nice white screen. This is not likely to be a widely used feature, for a projector that is expected to be ceiling mounted. Most will have a white wall. Still, the projector is designed to do well if you project onto a green board, or black board, as well as room walls that aren't white, with adjustments for Beige, Lt. Blue, Pink, and Lt. Green. All "color wall choices" here, except for BlackBoard, let you fine tune the color.
The Installation menu also lets you control lamp brightness, setup Auto Power On and Off, set your background color, and adjust the image for rear screen usage, etc. Both Mitsubishi projectors also support custom splash screens, so you can capture a logo, or other image to display when there is no active source.
Next comes the Feature menu, shown below:
With the Feature Menu, some of the key controls include setting aspect ratio (I found Auto to be very reliable), setting up passwords (as part of the Mitsubishi's theft prevention strategy), selecting the menu position, language selection, and the master Reset.
The Signal menu has some interesting items. Memory Call, and Resolution Memorize are a pair. You can, upon feeding the projector a particular source, such as I did, feeding the XL1550U a 1920x1080 signal, put that set of parameters in memory, for future recall. Whether this is critical or not, I don't know. In my testing, the projector did well overall with locking onto different resolutions, although there was some shifting at higher resolutions that calls for using the Horizontal and Vertical Position features to see all of the left and top edge of the screen. I did determine tht the Resolution Memorize also holds that info. Since it does, that is a real plus. There are two savable memories for the Resolution Memorize feature. Either can be retrieved from the Memory Call selection once they are defined.
This menu also offers Computer Input, which can select between RGB and YCC/YPP. Overscan, allows you to do normal overscan to eliminate noise at the edges of the image (more typical for video).
The Information window, as expected, tells you what's going on, including total lamp hours (displayed in 10 hour increments). This image above was taken with somewhere between 5 and 10 hours on the lamp, but still showed 0. The menu also shows input type, resolution, and frequency.
I should point out there there is some significant image correction capabilities on these projectors for really fine tuning performance with computer signals. Few will ever touch those controls, but they are there for tricky situations. The documentation to use them, is actually, rather good!
That pretty much covers the menus. As I said at the start of this section, my only real bitch, is that instead of pull down menus for each adjustable item, you toggle through. That means you may not even know what the choices are, until you view them all one at a time, and it makes for slower selection. Other than that, the menu choices are organized logically, and therefore easy to navigate.
Mitsubishi XL1550U Projector - Remote Control
The Mitsubishi remote is a throwback - in that it is a common layout that was very popular for many years. This isn't a compliment, nor a criticism, just an observation.
Let me start by saying that the XL1550U and XL2550U offer full remote mousing. That is, in addition to connecting the input source, if you connect the USB cable between projector and computer, you can control the mousing functions - moving the cursor, left and right mouse button functions, and page up, page down, all from the Mitsubishi's remote control.
On the remote, there is a trigger on the bottom (one reason I call this a throwback remote - this was far more common five or even 10 years ago, than today). That trigger is the left mouse button in terms of functionality. There is a right mouse button on the top of the remote. A nice sized disc pad on the remote allows you to move the cursor fairly quickly with reasonable precision. Lastly there are a page up, page down, home (beginning of the presentation) and End (end of the presentation) buttons on the remote.
Ok, time to quickly run through some of the other many buttons on this Mitsubishi remote control.
From the top - on the left is the Power switch (once on, twice off). It also doubles as the source selector for the DVI input. The remainder of the top two rows are direct source controls, so you can jump to whichever source you want.
On rows three and four, there are four buttons that handle remote mousing, as previously mentioned, and to the left of them is an Auto Position (auto setup) for a computer input, and right below it, with an orange border, is the button for the built in Laser pointer. This is nice. It seems to me that far fewer remote controls today have laser pointers, than did a few years ago. I think this may have to do with liability - especially since a significant number of folks apparently take a projector home from work for an occasional movie or sporting event. And taking it home, often means kids, and kids and lasers make for great liability issues.
OK, continuing, next are the four arrow keys in diamond layout, with the disc pad for mouse control in the center. Below all of that on the left is the menu button, the R-Click (right mouse button), and on the right, the Enter button. The next row has but one button - for keystone adjustment. The lower three rows, offer two buttons for volume (up/down), Aspect ratio select, the wall screen menu (to set the color of the wall), Expand - which provides digital zoom in capabilities (you can use the + / - (volume) buttons to zoom in or zoom out), and the arrow keys to move around the image to view the area you are zooming.
These projectors also have Picture in Picture, which, to turn on, occupies the right button on the second last row. You can have an analog or digital computer input selected, and using PIP, open a window to display either standard video or S-video. Component video will not work with PIP, nor can you select two computer signals - too bad!!!
Finally, the last row. CE (highlighted in yellow) is the Color Enhancer button (if you recall from the Menus - this lets you choose between Presentation, Standard, Theater, sRGB, and User). There is also a Mute button, and finally a freeze frame button labeled Still.
That wraps it up, except to say that the remote seems to have especially good range. I was easily able to use remote mousing functions bouncing the image off the screen, with a total range of over 20 feet, and in my (larger) theater room was able to get just about 30 feet using the various controls.
Bottom line - a very good remote!
Mitsubishi XL1550U Lens Throw and Lens Shift
As noted in the overview, the XL1550U, and for that matter, the XL2550U, lack adjustable lens shift.
When it comes to lens throw, for a "installation" projector, the standard lens has surprisingly very little zoom range - only 1.27:1. When you consider there are plenty of other choices out there with 1.5:1 or slightly larger, among the competition, this becomes an issue.
On the other hand, unlike a lot of 7-12 pound projectors that these Mitsubishi projectors compete with, the Mitsubishi projectors offer interchangeable lenses. That means there is a wide angle zoom, and two longer throw zoom lenses available. For a 100" 4:3 screen, choosing from a full range of lenses means the front of the projector can be as close as 10 feet, and as far back as 30 feet, 8 inches, depending on the lens selected. The standard zoom lens, lets you position the projector as close as 11 feet 10 inches or as far back as 15 feet, 2 inches.
The XL1550U and XL2550U come standard with a zoom lens. This is a downside for those needing a longer or shorter thow lens, as you are paying for the standard lens you don't need. While this may seem silly, the logic is fairly reasonable when you consider the high cost of lenses, and the fact that Mitsubishi no doubt expects most buyers to stick with the standard lens.
XL1550U SDE and Rainbow Effect, Pixel Visibility
As an XGA projector, using 3LCD glass with micro-lens array, and newer LCD panels, pixel structure is still visible from closer distances, but fine enough to be an issue when it comes to generating the annoying moire' type patterns referred to as Screen Door Effect (SDE). Since this is a 3LCD projector, not a single chip DLP projector, there is no color wheel, and no Rainbow effect.
From reading the brochure of the XL2550U - as to how it differs from the XL1550U, the XL2550U sports newer 3LCD panels that Mitsubishi calls BrightEra panels. These read as being a newer generation, with larger aperture, and even less pixel visibility than the XL1550U.
XL1550U Projector Brightness
The XL1550U Projector claims 3100 lumens. I am pleased to report, that while our measurements came up short of that, it was a close thing. In fact, with lamp on full power, and Color Enhancer (mode) set to Presentation, the XL1550U measured 2985 lumens or within 4 percent of claim. That's better than most business projectors do. We find that few projectors beat their claimed specs, and quite often projectors measure 10 to 25% below claim. Therefor 4% below is likely better than most.
The image above was taken in our testing room, projecting an 88" diagonal image, with full room lighting on, and one window providing some outside light. The XL1550U was in Presentation mode at the time, lamp on full power.
I should note that like with most projectors I could likely tweak the settings a bit, and find most of those missing 100 odd lumens.
Any way you slice it, 2985 lumens is a hefty amount of lumens for small and medium sized rooms, and can easily do auditoriums with good lighting control.
The other modes were not that different from Presentation mode, in terms of brightness.
Standard mode: 2902 lumens
Theater mode: 2426 lumens
sRGB mode: 2454 lumens
The XL1550U, of course, offers a low power lamp mode, when you need less lumens, or want quieter operation or longer lamp life. We measured Low power in Presentation mode, where it recorded 2335 lumens. That's a drop of almost 22% (rather typical).
The XL2550U claims 4000 lumens. We did not have an XL2550U for testing. It would not be unreasonable to expect a drop, to low power, of roughly 20 - 22%. In other words - we would expect the drop to be similar to that of the XL1550U.
Mitsubishi XL1550U lamp life
The big news, is that, in low power mode, the XL1550U projector claims 5000 hours from its lamp. Some heavy users therefore, who can get by find on about 2300 lumens may spring for the XL1550, even though it is expensive for that many lumens, but because they will save a lot if replacing the lamp frequently. Typical of those people will be those using the projector, let's say 40 hours a week or more.
In Full power mode, the XL1550U is fairly typical in terms of lamp life rating - 2000 hours, probably where 95% of all projectors are rated.
I should note that the XL2550, which also claims 2000 hours in Full power mode, is only rated 4000 hours in its Low power mode.
The XL2550U, uses a higher wattage lamp, as one one to get out more lumens (261 watt vs 200 watt).
XL1550U Audible Noise Levels
The Mitsubishi XL1550U is actually a relatively quiet projector. Mitsubishi claims only 22db in low lamp mode - truly whisper quiet. In fact, that is quieter than all but perhaps 2 or 3 of the quietest home theater projectors.
Even in full lamp mode, the projector remains reasonably quiet, in fact much quieter than many other projectors in low power mode. I would guess that in full power mode, the XL1550U is about 6db noisier, which is still quieter than most home theater projectors. (For perspective, many smaller portable business projectors are 33 - 39db at full power.)
The XL2550U, however, is more concerned (it would seem) with lumens, than quiet. It is rated 29db in low lamp mode, so about the same as the XL1550U in full lamp power. I'll guess that it too will increase as you switch the XL2550U to full power, by about the same 6db. Just what I hope is a good guess, on my part. If accurate, that still makes the XL2550U a quieter than average business projector.
XL1550U Image Noise
No real issues, here, on data or video. I never fed the XL1550U anything that needed me to engage the Noise Filter.
Other Mitsubishi XL1550U Features
Audio, as mentioned elsewhere, the single 1.77" speaker, powered by a 3 watt amp, provides basic sound. Don't expect hi fidelity, and don't expect it to fill a room with 50 people to a volume that can overshadow people talking. This is a basic speaker system, although it has more punch than is typically found in smaller portables that usually have one or two 1 watt speakers.
Networking - Both models have ethernet LAN inputs, and can be monitored on a corporate network, also the projectors can be controlled remotely. As with many of the newer networking projectors, a browser can be used for controlling/supervising. Mitsubishi calls their setup ProjectorView. The Mitsubishi's support PJLink, a projector control protocol used by several major manufacturers.
To simplify the removal of a lamp that needs replacing, Mitsubishi provides what they call a Lamp Replacement Tray, with the projector.
Ok, time to spend a moment on the Mitsubishi warranty (one of the best warranties out there), so please visit the Warranty page next, and following that, we'll summarize everything for you.