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Mitsubishi HC6500 Home Theater Projector - A first look!

Greetings all, I've been running the new Mitsubishi HC6500 projector since late last week. After a few hours of watching before calibration, it was calibrated, and I've spent much of the weekend enjoying this projector, both on movies, and HDTV sports. The HC6500 home theater projector is most impressive, and looks to be one of the best values around. This is Mitsubishi's middle projector.  It currently should have a street price around $2500 (MSRP is $3495).  It fits between the entry level HC5500, and their fully tricked out HC7000 ($4995 MSRP). top of the line 3LCD home projector.   Prior to the HC6500 arrival, I had a real reservation.  The claimed contrast ratio of 15,000:1 is only the slightest bit better than the HC5500's 14,000:1.   That should be an inconsequential difference, so I feared that the picture would not be noticeably better than the HC5500.  I have set aside my fears. Turns out, that the HC6500 is noticeably better at black level performance than its less expensive sibling.   It's also extremely quiet, it's got a very good warranty, it's got motorized zoom, focus, and lens shift, a good remote...  So far, my thoughts are that the HC6500 is definitely worth the price difference between it, and the lower cost Mitsubishi and the Sanyo PLV-Z700.   For those of you who have read our August review of the less expensive HC5500, or our recent review of the Sanyo PLV-Z700 - two new "entry-level" 1080p projectors, you should have gotten the impression, from the reviews, that while they were both nice projectors, and good overall values - being the least expensive 1080p projectors, that I was a bit disapointed in some areas, notably, the so-so black level performance.  The bar for good performance, is moved higher each year. I am most pleased with watching the HC6500 projector.  Black level performance may not match more expensive projectors, including their own HC7000, but it crosses the threshold of being fully acceptable to most.  Even in scenes where better black level performance can make a real difference between projectors, the HC6500 achieves a level that should satisfy most of those who are fairly critical viewers.     To have better black levels is always beneficial, but the HC6500 should not disappoint.  I'm used to better black levels - far better in the case of my JVC, but also better levels on a number of projectors I've reviewed, (Epson 1080 UB, InFocus IN83, all JVC's Sony VW40, VW60, etc.  That said, the HC6500 still satisfies me.  It may not have the blackest blacks but I haven't run across any scenes where the image leaves one feeling that the black level issue is a problem.      So, the HC6500 is a very respectable projector when it comes to black levels.  It's also good on shadow detail.   Skin tones are really very good after a basic calibration - really very good. From a brightness standpoint, the HC6500 does pretty well, definitely being on the bright side side of average, in "best mode" (mid-600 lumens).  In brightest mode, it's definitely average, without the extra lumens that some have, to help out with the type of ambient light you might want (or be stuck with in your room) for sports viewing.   Physically, the HC6500 is one of the best looking projectors out there, in case you have a "wife factor" to deal with.  It's got all the basic inputs, including two HDMI 1.3 inputs. I really like this one.  It's a step up from the entry-level 1080p group.  It only remains to see how it compares to other new competition, most notably from the Panasonic PT-AE3000U (which should be more money), and the Epson Home Cinema 6100 (not due until December - but less money), and so on. So far, though, this is a projector I can recommend easily.   Actually, last night I was thinking that the HC6500 is a very "film-like" projector.  I was most impressed with those qualities while watching segments of Dogma, Aeon Flux, and Men In Black, all on Blue-ray. Very impressive.  I'm most comfortable with the image quality, so only the value proposition is unknown, until I have a close look at the other projectors in the same price range.  Bottom line, the HC6500 scores very well in terms of watchability from an image standpoint. Put it on your short list.  -art

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