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Mitsubishi HC5500 Home Theater Projector: Summary, Competition, Pros and Cons-2

Posted on August 9, 2008 by Art Feierman

Mitsubishi HC5500 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z2000

The older HC4900 was pretty close in price to the Sanyo Z2000 (the least expensive 1080p projector), the newer HC5500 though is more money, so they are not competing against each other as directly. The HC5500 crushes the Sanyo when it comes to brightness, and it also has a slight advantage in image processing. Both home cinema projectors produce extremely sharp images, although the Mitsubishi may have a slight edge there. Both look really good after calibration, although the Sanyo is slightly better (Pure Cinema Mode) when comparing out of the box color accuracy.

Two very good, lower cost projectors, but the primary battle here, between these two 1080p 3LCD projectors is price vs. lumens. If you need bright - the HC5500, if you need a real bargain, the Sanyo. Sanyo also offers an extra year warranty.

Mitsubishi HC5500 vs. Panasonic PT-AE2000U

Again, here, brightness is a big factor. The 640 lumens we measured in best mode on the HC5500 easily trumps the 388 lumens of the Panasonic. Considering the prices are similar on these two projectors, another way of looking at it, is that the Mitsubishi HC5500, in low power mode, still has almost 100 more lumens than the Panasonic in full power mode, and in that mode, the Mitsubishi projector still manages 472 lumens, and its lamp lasts 5000 hours, in that mode, 2.5 times longer than the Panasonic at full power. In other words, you can still have the brighter projector, but likely save yourself at least one $400 lamp over the period you own the projector. By the way, Panasonic has been running a Blockbuster card promo and an extra year warranty for many months now. With the extra year warranty promo, that means they both have the same warranty.

When it comes to the all important image quality, there are tradeoffs. The Panasonic definitely has the better "out of the box" color, but both calibrate nicely. Where the Mitsubishi HC5500 shines is in terms of sharpness of the image. The Panasonic offers completely invisible pixel structure (unless you are about 2-3 feet from the screen), whereas the Mitsubishi is typical for 3LCD 1080p projectors. When I say typical, yes, maybe you can see a bit of pixel structure on credits and other signage graphics, if you sit fairly close, etc., but it's not an issue in my book!

The HC5500 with its HQV processing probably has a slight advantage in image processing (including 14 bit gamma - if that really makes a difference - hard to say), but not critical - except for some really hard core enthusiasts. On the other hand, the Panasonic has a built in waveform generator and color management system that probably envokes the same kind of excitement for hard core hobbyists, that a hot chick in a bikini does for bulk of the rest of the home theater shopping population.

Lastly, I'll give a very slight edge to the Panasonic in film-like performance for movie watching, and a bigger advantage to the Mitsubishi for HDTV, especially sports where you can really appreciate the sharpness, as I did, watching some Olympic events the last couple of days! Tough call!

Mitsubishi HC5500 vs. Epson Home Cinema 1080UB

This is the toughest competition for the HC5500. The Epson simply has the best black level performance of any projector near the price of the HC5500, and, in this regard is a magnitude better than the Mitsubishi, in an area (black levels) often referred to as the Holy Grail of home theater performance. True, the Epson sells for about $500 more, but it delivers those amazing black levels that only three or four over $4000, can match or beat. The Epson isn't as sharp, that is true, but more than acceptable for most, (and sharper than the Panasonic). The Mitsubishi still has the advantage in brightness in best mode - with its 640 measured lumens trumping the Epson's 468 lumens (essentially identical to the Mitusbishi in low power eco-mode). However, when you need lots of lumens, the Epson easily beats the HC5500, with over 1600 lumens compared to less than 1100 lumens.

The Epson has the slightly better warranty, both having 2 years parts and labor, but Epson has their overnight replacement program for both years.

Give or take all the trade-offs, the Epson in my book, is, overall, the superior projector in image quality, even though the HC5500 has a very slight advantage in shadow detail. You'll have to decide if the Epson is worth the extra $500 in your situation, but I definitely favor the Epson. The one place where the HC5500 can be the better choice, is for movie watchers with larger than 110" screens, where the Epson starts running out of horsepower.

Mitsubishi HC5500 vs Viewsonic Pro8100

The Viewsonic seems to be related to the HC5500, with a lot of the same processing, although different physical attributes. I believe they have the same dynamic iris, as well as the HQV processing. The Viewsonic Pro8100, however is sold only through local dealers and commands a much higher price. From a cost standpoint, that makes the Mitsubishi the better value, for almost identical performance. If you are buying from a local dealer, though, you expect to pay more, but, if you buy a Mitsubishi and then have a local dealer install it, you will probably find yourself paying more for the installation, as the dealer tries to recover the lost profits from not being able to make money on the Mitsubishi. Still, even that considered, the HC5500 has the price performance advantage.

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