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Mitsubishi HC6500 1080p Home Projector Review: Image Quality-1

Posted on October 17, 2008 by Art Feierman

Mitsubishi HC6500: Image Quality Sections

I found the HC6500 (link to specs) to perform extremely well. It may not match the black level performance of several of the "top of the line" LCD home theater projectors (including Mitsubishi's new HC7000), but on the other hand, it provides an extremely watchable image, better than the less expensive entry-level 1080p projectors including the two recently reviewed. Those would be Mitsubishi's own HC5500 reviewed in August, and the Sanyo PLV-Z700 published last week.

Mitsubishi HC6500 Home Theater Projector: Out of the Box Picture Quality

Not great, but then, very few are. In fact only a very few, mostly more expensive home theater projectors, are so good, out of the box, in terms of color accuracy, contrast and gamma, to not improve substantially with a calibration. As a result, we recommend you choose one the usual three options, to get the most out of your Mitsubishi HC6500 projector:

  1. Have the HC6500 professionally calibrated.
  2. Buy a good "end-user" calibration disc, and invest an hour or so of your time, basically following directions.
  3. Drop in the calibration settings we came up with (found in the HC6500 Calibration section of the General Performance page). Due to unit variations this solution will not be perfect, but should still be a rather significant improvement compared to out of the box settings.

Overall, the HC6500 is definitely watchable, but, when you consider that it is a significant investment, why not do one of the three above, and get more bang for your bucks.

Skin Tone Handling

Beautiful, at least, after calibration. In fact the Mitsubishi HC6500 really does an excellent job. Skin tones look extremely natural, and as always I wish the images provided could really capture how good they look. Unfortunately by the time the projected image makes it from the screen, to my dSLR camera, to the website, and finally onto your monitor, the image never looks as good as just sitting there and enjoying. Saturation and contrast definitely change, color balance changes slightly (a touch, to much green), and so on. Just remember, the HC6500 will look better! Definitely!

We start with the two standard definition (SD-DVD) DVD images of Gandalf and Arwen, from Lord of the Rings. Following those, all remaining screen images are from Blu-ray disc (or HDTV).

Once again, here are three shots of Daniel Craig, as James Bond in Casino Royale, to demonstrate the different skin tones due to different lighting. First image is full sunlight, second one, fluorescent lighting (airport), and third one, filtered sunlight (shade). A really good projector not only produces a different skin tone on each, but each looks right for the type of lighting (as well as night time), incandescent lighting, and so on

House of the Flying Daggers has rich saturated colors, and definitely a bit of color shifting to achieve the director's intent. As a result, they aren't 100% natural looking but impressive, nonetheless

Mitsubishi HC6500: Black Level and Shadow Detail

Black Level Performance

In the good old days (what?), contrast stats were a good indication of black level performance, but with the advent of dynamic irises, contrast numbers don't tell you much at all. All we keep getting are higher and higher numbers, and in some cases they correlate to better black levels in other cases, not so much.

Consider the Mitsubishi HC6500 compared to their own HC5500. The HC6500 claims 15,000:1 contrast, compared to 14,000:1 contrast. Now a small difference like that - a few percent, really should indicate that black levels are basically the same.

As it turns out, that's not the case. The HC5500 did well enough - for an entry level 1080p projector, but the HC6500 is noticeably better.

For years, black level performance has been "the Holy Grail" of home theater projectors, since the old CRT projectors went away. In other words, when black level performance was much poorer than today, an improvement in that area was the biggest thing a manufacturer could do, to improve overall picture quality.

Today, some are truly superb, but more to the point, in the 1080p class of projectors, most of them produce at least very respectable black levels, which means you can also focus on other issues when looking for the home theater projector with the best overall picture.

In recently working with this season's two (so far) "entry-level" 1080p projectors I found them both to be acceptable, but hardly impressive, in this area. If budget is tight, most can live with it, but enthusiasts would likely be less than satisfied.

Not so the HC6500. It's just that much better than the entry-level models, including the HC5500, to, in my judgement, cross a threshold where they are good, not just acceptable. True, you can choose from other projectors that are even better in this regard, but, unless you are looking at those one magnitude better (the JVC projectors, or almost any other one claiming 50,000:1 or better contrast), you can rest easy, with black levels good enough that you can focus more on things like brightness, color accuracy, and so on.


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