HC3800 Lamp Life
Lamp life may not be as exciting as black level performance, but it usually is of particular interest to those buying relatively entry level priced projectors. Afterall, if cost wasn't a consideration, you would probably be reading a review of some $4000 or $8000 projector now, not one that's under $1500.
Most lamps are rated 2000 hours at full power, and 3000 in low, or "eco-mode" power.
The Mitsubishi HC3800, however is rated 3000 hours at full power, and an extremely long 5000 hours in low power mode. Combine that with a the Mitsubishi's very bright "best mode" and a lot of folks will be running in "eco-mode" for their movie watching, while with another projector, they might be at full power, getting only 2000 hours, instead of 5000 hours. That trade-off can save you hundreds of dollars in a year or three, depending on how much you use your projector. For example, compared to the lower cost Optoma HD20, if both are used with lamp at full power, and you watch 20 hours a week, you will have used 2 additional lamps for the Optoma by 6000 hours, but only 1 for the HC3800 - bingo, you've just saved over half the cost difference between the two projectors, assuming typical lamp pricing. Of course 6000 hours, represents 40 hours a week for 3 years, not an unreasonable amount for those of us who use our systems as our general TV, as well as for movie watching.
The HC3800 is one of a new crop of DLP projectors that are finally offering more than the absolute minimal 1.2:1 zoom lenses. Finally, you'll have a bit of placement flexibility if you need it. I'm not sure how many people buy 3LCD projectors over DLP projectors simply because of placement flexibility advantages of the typical 3LCD projector. That said, the HC3800 still lacks adjustable lens shift so it can't be rear shelf mounted, although with the longer zoom range, in some rooms that aren't too deep, you could mount the projector under a shelf on the rear wall, or a mount coming from the rear wall. Ultimately, though, a projector either works in your setup or not. The HC3800 has more chance of working, then, say the lower cost Optoma HD20, which is more limited.
Related to the zoom lens, is the HC3800's compatibility with using an anamorphic lens, which it does. The HC3800 projector however has two anamorphic modes, the usual, designed to work with the lens for Cinemascope movies, and the second mode, so you can watch everything else without removing the anamorphic lens. In other words no motorized sled needed). This is discussed further in the Performance section of this projector review.