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Mitsubishi HC7800D Projector Review - A First Look

UDPDATE: The full Mitsubishi HC7800D Review has been posted here. Greetings projector folk, it's time to give you a quick run down on the Mitsubishi HC7800D home theater projector, before the full review is ready.

Mitsubishi HC7800D 3D Home Theater Projector

But first - one more time: Happy New Year! OK, to the Mitsubishi HC7800D projector. This projector (pre-production unit) looks to replace the HC6800 but it features a change in technology, from LCD to DLP, and of course, adds 3D abilities. The HC7800D I got to work with (for a week), I returned to them Thursday (two days ago), as they needed it for the CES show. They will return to me, either that HC7800, or another, with newer (hopefully final production) firmware, when we all get back from the show in a week. The HC7800D sports an MSRP of $3995, but MAP - the minimum advertised price is $2495 (or was it $2499?). Sales are going to be through CEDIA dealers, that is, local, installing type dealers. Let's touch on some key points: The HC7800D isn't too unusual in terms of brightness. Calibrated, it's Best mode measured 668 lumens, (in User Memory 1, Brilliant Color off, mid-point on the zoom lens). That's just a tad more than the Epson 5010, a bigger step brighter than the Panasonic, and similar to a number of other DLP projectors. It certainly is no match in brightness with the BenQ W7000, a projector built to be a light cannon, and the brightest DLP projector we've reviewed in more than a year. I should note, that the regular preset modes Cinema and Video don't even allow basic items like Brightness and Contrast to be adjusted. That may be due to the not final production firmware, or it may be the way the final versions ship. It's not really a problem anyway, with three User Memories available, and you can base them on those other modes.
Maximum brightness of the HC7800D came in at 1299 lumens (with BC on) , but it's really overwhelmingly green. Since the High Bright mode (native lamp) doesn't allow you to do much in adjusting, forget about it. Ok, maybe if you need every lumen, and are willing to forego anything resembling decent color - but I hope not. Kicking on Brilliant Color gives a nice boost of about 22%, but grayscale suffers. According to Mike, by the time you correct for that when calibrating with BC on, the end result is the same brightness as calibrated with BC off. Where you'll want BC on is for less critical viewing - such as sports. Mind you BC on isn't bad, the User mode with BC on looks really good, just not as good as it calibrated with it off. Turn it on to enjoy those extra 150 lumens that are available: The combination of BC on, User Memory, etc. yields 816 lumens. 3D does just slightly better with 866.

Mitsubishi HC7800D image from The Fifth Element

Hardware - ahh - lens is in the front (just making sure you're paying attention). Lens shift is on the top, right behind the zoom lens dial, hidden behind a small pop-up door. The round control panel is on the top, near the back. The 1.5:1 zoom is nice and sharp. 3D on the HC7800D looked really good in terms of seeming cleaner than most other projectors coming through here. I have to say, I think it's cleaner than the JVC RS45, which arrived in time to overlap the the HC7800D's visit. The thing is, the HC7800D is typical of most 3D capable home theater projectors we've reviewed so far: It just isn't bright enough in 3D. Oh, like many others it will be fine for occasional 3D viewing. If you are more serious about 3D, you can go with a particularly high gain screen to help out, or stick to a smaller screen (under 100") and modest gain, the 3D. Myself I normally have to recommend that having a brighter projector is a better solution than a really high gain screen (2.0 gain or more). Inputs were very typical, with a pair of HDMI 1.4a inputs, and a standard collection of other connectors... Placement flexibility, BTW is pretty good, with the 1.5:1 zoom combining with lens shift to make things pretty easy. All in all, a small screen projector designed for a dedicated theater or other cave. Really good 2D calibrated image, with DLP clarity and richness, Clean, but underpowered 3D. Black levels are respectable but not outstanding. Better than the early sample W7000 (which is supposed to be much improved with the final firmware), but not a match for the Epson's Panasonic, Sony HW30ES, etc. Ok folks, you get the idea. It may be DLP in the middle of the Mitsubishi lineup this time instead of 3LCD, but the HC7800D, seems to fit what Mitsubishi likes as a feature set in this position. One of my favorites, their HC4000, another DLP down below $1500 is their entry level projector (no 3D). On the high end is the HC9000D LCoS projector, which was our favorite value in last year's crop of LCoS projectors sporting 3D. I'm going to try to get most of the full HC7800D review posted by late Sunday night, but, if you know me... And Monday, I head to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics show, gone for a week. I'm pretty certain, that the full review will really get finished then. Hang in there... -art

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