Mitsubishi HC4900 LCD Home Theater Projector Review: Overview
Let's start with the basics. Last September, Mitsubishi launched its HC5000 1080p home theater projector. In fact it was the first of the new 1080p projectors we reviewed. One of three popular LCD based 1080p projectors, it turned out to be the most expensive of the three. The other two are the Panasonic PT-AE1000U which started at $3995, but has had a $1000 rebate for quite some time, and the Epson Home Cinema 1080p which came out this Spring, at $2999. Each of the three has strengths and weaknesses, compared to the others (see our 1080p comparison review).
But it's not fun being the most expensive of the threesome, so Mitsubishi's answer is the HC4900 (link to specs), which started shipping a few months ago. At $2995, it is directly price competitive with the Panasonic and Epson.
The HC4900 looks exactly like the HC5000, and shares virtually all of its features. There are differences, however. Most notably the image processing is different, and the HC4900 has a lower contrast ratio (7500:1 instead of 10,000:1). The most obvious result of this, is that the HC4900 cannot match the black level and shadow detail performance of its more expensive sibling. That said, we'll look and see how well the HC4900 performs, and discuss the value proposition compared to the HC5000 and the HC4900's other competitors.
Of note, the HC4900 is a 3LCD projector. It uses a dynamic iris to enhance black levels, and there are four modes - Iris open, and Auto Iris 1, 2, and 3. I worked almost exclusively with Open, and Auto Iris 1.
Some sections of this review have simply been cut and pasted from the HC5000 review, with only minor changes, such as the Physical Tour section below, descriptions of menus, and so on.