Mitsubishi HC1600 Home Theater Projector Review: General Performance-1

HC1600 Projector - Light Leakage

Once again, the HC1600 seems very similar to the HC1500. No doubt about it, the Mitsubishi HC1600 leaks light through the lens. It’s not much, and not even, and like its predecessor, seems to be a little worse in the top right (beyond the screen). Most importantly, though, I would not consider this a real problem. If you have a white wall, you are unlikely to notice it while actually watching content, even with a very dark scene, but it is definitely there, if you are looking for it. You’ll also note a sort of dark mask right around the 1280×720 area. This is normal for many DLP projectors. It’s darker than even the black levels, so, it’s an “interesting” artifact, but of no real importance. Bottom line: Light leakage is not enough to detract from performance, although, for those bugged by such things, and those with white walls, be forewarned.

HC1600 Audible Noise Levels

The HC1600 is supposed to be quieter than the HC1500. Of course it’s been a long time since I had an HC1500 here. Mitsubishi claims 25 db in eco-mode (low lamp), while I believe they claimed 31 db on the HC1500 – but in full power. I’ve been watching the HC1600 only in full power, and it seems to be just on the low side of a typical DLP when it comes to noise. In the few minutes I spent in low power, I was impressed. It was quieter than most other projectors in low power, but no match for the very quietest (which are probably the Mitsubishi HC5500/HC6000 – their 1080p 3LCD projectors).

As one sort of a benchmark that I am using, when in my testing room doing the photo shoot, I could definitely hear the HC1600. I don’t run audio when doing the photos. More significantly, though, even in high power, the HC1600 is definitely quieter than my Sony PS3, which I have in both rooms that I use.

Bottom Line: Definitely reasonably quiet. No issue in low power, but in high power, those mounting it right over their heads, those eternally vigilant, looking for the slightest flaws, and of course, the small group that is really obsessed with any noise, may take issue.

HC1600 Projector Screen Recommendations

Well, black levels leave much to be desired in this projector, and since lumens are in no short supply, I definitely would recommend a high contrast gray type surface over a white one. It will lower down the black levels, which will definitely help, especially since the letterbox areas can get a little bright. If however, you are planning on a large screen – say larger than 110″ diagonal (I’m assuming you have enough ceiling height for that to work), your lumens will be spread out over a larger area, and therefore the black issue is less significant. Still, think HC Gray!

Who’s got the screen you need? Almost everyone makes hi-contrast gray screen surfaces. The Stewart Firehawk may be the “industry standard”, but since even a 100″ fixed wall Firehawk costs notably more than the Mitsubishi, I seriously doubt anyone will pair them up.

For lower cost solutions, consider hi-contrast gray surfaces, from Elite (great prices), Da-lite (has two different HC gray surfaces, including their HC Cinema Vision, I really like that Cinema Vision with its 1.1 gain). Carada has one too, although I’ve never worked with it. Theirs has a lower gain than most, which would be a real plus for those really trying to tame black level performance. I swear by Carada’s Brilliant White, which I use in my testing room as my primary. It’s well constructed and performs almost as well as Stewart’s StudioTek 130, which is the standard in white surface screens. BTW, Carada is about fixed wall screens – if you are looking for pull-down or motorized, again, consider one of the other brands.

Two more of note, these brands offer HC gray screens, and are also affordable: Grandview and Draper. Of the brands I’ve mentioned, after the very expensive Stewart Filmscreen products, Da-lite is much more affordable, and slightly more – typically than Draper. I’m not too on top of the others, price wise, but Elite is problably the least expensive, with Grandview probably slightly higher.

HC1600 Projector Measurements and Calibration

First, we found these to be the best general settings:

With lamp at full power, for “best” performance, these R,G,B settings were used, and placed in Color Temp’s User 1 area. You can’t change R,G,B settings from the Warm/Cool/Medium and High Brightness modes, but you can use any of those four as the basis for the changes. In this case, we set it to use the Medium as the starting point
Contrast:
R = 5G = 2B = -3
Brightness:R = -3 G = 4 B = 5
Contrast:
3
Brightness:
3
Gamma:
Auto
Color Temp:
Medium (used as the basis for the R,G,B adjustments below)
Brilliant Color
0

With lamp at full power, for “best” performance, these R,G,B settings were used, and placed in Color Temp’s User 1 area. You can’t change R,G,B settings from the Warm/Cool/Medium and High Brightness modes, but you can use any of those four as the basis for the changes. In this case, we set it to use the Medium as the starting point:

 

Contrast:R = 5G = 2B =-3
Brightness:R = -3G = 4B = 5
White (100 IRE): 6383K
Light gray (80 IRE):6525K
Medium gray (50 IRE):6420K
Low gray (30 IRE):6800K

This gives you the best overall color balance in targeting the ideal 6500K. Overall, the end result isn’t the smoothest, or tightest set of color temperatures around, in fact a bit more fluctuation than most projectors, but the overall results were pretty good, when it comes to kicking back and enjoying a movie.

With those settings in place, and Brilliant Color set to 0, we also adjusted the Gamma (in its User area) to the following (for R, G, and B): High=-5, Medium=-3, Low=-3

The end result of all these settings, is a good, but as noted, slightly uneven temperature range, centered around the ideal 6500K.

It’s hard to do better as the projector, unlike many others in default modes, bounces up and down as you go from white to very dark gray. Most projectors tend to have a steady tilt, with the color temperature either rising or dropping as you go from white to very dark gray – those are easier to get more accurate.

When Mike did the calibration he also did a “quick” calibrate for the same setup (Medium color temp, and gamma on Auto), but with Brilliant Color on 5. Since the projector seems to have a cooler image as the Brilliant Color setting goes up (less red), he came up with these slight changes for those using the Brilliant Color, at 5:

He increased Red Contrast to 9, and decreased Red Brightness to -12. With these settings, lumen output, as noted earlier, jumps from low 500′s to 838 lumens! The measured color temp for white is almost dead on the money, at 6570K.

Mike did not do a separate calibration with Brilliant Color on 10. No doubt it will be a little different, but then, under the lighting conditions you would need 10 for, it’s unlikely that you would care about the level of shift in color temp.

HC1600 Image Noise

All projectors have some image noise, noticeable if you look hard at content that is mostly unchanging. DLP projectors seem to have a bit more than 3LCD based projectors. In the case of the HC1600, image noise was very good overall, and slghtly better, I would say than most competing DLP projectors, but no better than any of the 3LCD models. Overall, the HC1600 did pretty well on motion artifact tests from the HQV test discs. Bottom line: Image noise is very minor, and not enough to be an issue for the vast majority who are considering an entry level projector for their home.

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