There's no question that the Mitsubishi HC1600 (link to specs) is a solid entry level home theater projector. Its combination of brightness, very good color (after a basic calibration), and a sharp image, combine to make this a very good projector for overall viewing. I think that there are others which have the advantage if all you are after is movie viewing, but, for those looking for an all-around projector, with equal interest in TV/HDTV, Sports (in particular), and movies, the HC1600 should be very good choice.
Some of you may have noticed by now, that the HC1600 did not receive our Hot Product Award. It really came down to four issues; the less than great black level performance, and the short, one year warranty, plus, the slower 2x color wheel, and the limited placement flexibility (typical of DLP projectors).
Mitsubishi HC1600 Competitive Aspects:
Mitsubishi HC1600 vs. Optoma HD65
Here is the direct competitor that has the edge over the Mitsubishi. Its slightly better black levels provide an advantage. Both are excellent at sharpness, and the Mitsubishi does have the shadow detail advantage, but those black levels, on dark movie scenes, give the Optoma HD65 the advantage. The Optoma also has the advantage of a 4x color wheel compared to the Mitsubishi's 2x wheel, which will mean a lot to those somewhat sensitive to the rainbow effect. Both have one year parts and labor warranties.
In addition, the Optoma HD65 has really impressively good color, right out of the box.
At least partially offsetting the Optoma's advantages, is the rather dramatic difference in maximum brightness, with the Mitsubishi able to muster up just over 2000 lumens when needed, at least 50% more than the Optoma. Again, that makes the Optoma the favored projector for those primarily concerned with movies, but those who are looking for sports and TV first, or at least equal in importance to movies, may very likely find the HC1600 to be the better choice.
Mitsubishi HC1600 vs. Panasonic PT-AX200U
The Mitsubishi has the brighter Best Mode, but after that, the Panasonic has roughly an extra 50% more lumens in brightest mode. As a typical 3LCD projector, the Panasonic has lens shift, and a wide range zoom lens, for drastically better flexibility when it comes to placing it in your room. Shelf mounting is quite common for 3LCD projectors, while DLP projectors lacking lens shift, like the HC1600, are pretty much limited to ceiling mounting (or placing on a table), and even then, with only a couple of feet of front to back placement range. Both come with a basic one year warranty.
The Panasonic PT-AX200U has better color accuracy out of the box, and, in fact is one of the few that comes very close to best possible performance without a calibration, for those who really don't want to fuss. The Panasonic is also extremely quiet, while the HC1600 is definitely louder.
The Mitsubishi definitely has the sharpness advantage, while the Panasonic, with its Smooth Screen Technology suffers there, it does have an invisible pixel structure. Overall, the Panasonic is simply a great overall projector. It is a few hundred dollars more, but will appeal to a much larger share of the projector buying public.
Mitsubishi HC1600 vs. Epson Home Cinema 720
In many ways the Epson Home Cinema 720 is similar to the Panasonic, and much of how it stacks up against the HC1600 is the same (ie placement flexibility). The Epson though, has a more visible pixel structure (typical 3LCD projector), but still isn't quite as sharp as the HC1600. In terms of maximum brightness, it is very similar to the HC1600, but not quite as bright in Best Mode. Epson comes with a great warranty - 2 years, with overnight replacement for both years (all expenses - freight), paid by Epson. That gives the Epson a big advantage for those who feel better with a great, longer, warranty.
Mitsubishi HC1600 vs. Optoma HD71
Unlike the Optoma HD65, the HD71's out of the box color leaves much to be desired. In this regard, the HC1600 has the advantage. The HD71, though, has the faster color wheel, and a lot more lumens than the HD65 and about 20% more than the HC1600. After a quick calibration, both of these projectors look really good. The biggest advantage of the HC1600, though, is price. Like the Epson and Panasonic, you will pay more for the HD71!
Mitsubishi HC1600 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z5
As mentioned earlier, it's been almost two years since we reviewed the Sanyo PLV-Z5. It is a projector for the enthusiast, with very good black levels, also very good sharpness, and excellent post calibration color. On the other hand, the Sanyo is one of the least bright projectors around, so, in that regard, the Mitsubishi is the hands down winner. Hobbyists have always loved the Z5, while the HC1600 has more of a general public appeal.
That should give you a pretty good idea how the HC1600 stacks up against the best of the other 720p projectors out there, that are close to the Mitsubishi's price.