Mitsubishi HC2000 £4780
31st Mar 2005 | 23:00
Mitsubishi tries its hand at home cinema
As far as projectors are concerned, Mitsubishi has traditionally been associated with the business end of the market. This translates to 4:3 aspect ratios, and the sacrifice of contrast range for brightness so that pictures stand out better in well-lit conference rooms. Such characteristics, however, don't tend to equate to cinematic visuals.
Thankfully, the company's HC2000 is aimed squarely at the burgeoning home cinema market. Sourced from Optoma - which sells a physically identical projector with a similar specification - the HC2000 is based around the new-ish HD2 DMD chip, a 16:9 device with an HDTV-ready native resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels.
Mitsubishi claims that thanks to its use of the HD2 , the HC2000 can offer a contrast ratio of 3,600:1. This isn't quite as high as the supposed 5,000:1 of TI's latest DarkChip 3 variant, but the manufactured figures seldom mean anything in the real world.
Aimed at the middle sector of the home cinema market, the HC2000's bulk gives the impression you're getting something for your money. A more plausible reason for its larger-than-usual size is attention to cooling details that have helped reduce fan noise to a mere 23dB.
Enjoyment of quiet passages during movies - with the projector only 1.5m above the viewing position - was not impaired at all. Fan noise (and colour-wheel whirrs) can be quite obtrusive in smaller viewing rooms, and so Mitsubishi should be congratulated in this regard.
On top of the unit is a lens-shift adjustment, plus controls for (electronic) zoom/focus setting, source selection, automatic display positioning (for computer use) and menu access. Most of these functions are also available via the compact remote handset, which benefits from a switchable key backlight.
Ready for the future
On the back panel is a barrage of future-proofed socketry. First up, we have a RS232 serial port for remote system control. There's a DVI input, which supports the HDCP encryption of recent kit. Older projectors without HDCP-compliant DVI ports simply won't yield pictures from such sources. Note that the DVI input can also be interfaced with HDMI sources, provided the relevant adaptors/cables are used.
Experimenting with a Zinwell QS1080 Euro1080 box reveals that the DVI input will accept both standard and highdefinition (1080i/720p) signals - at 50Hz as well as 60Hz.
Also ready for high-def are the two component inputs, one of which will also accept RGB and H/V sync from a computer. An easier way of getting signals from a PC into the HC2000 is to use the (rather short) VGA-DVI cable that's supplied. Unfortunately, it prevents you from simultaneously using the digital input; at this price, I would have appreciated a separate VGA input.
On the subject of PCs, the HC2000 will handle input resolutions of up to 1,600 x 1,200 at 75Hz. There's a wasteful 4:3 display mode, but thankfully the drivers of graphics cards sold for home cinema PC use can usually be configured to output a true 16:9 desktop.
As far as DVD playback and digital TV is concerned, you can feed the HC2000 with PAL and NTSC - progressive or interlaced - video, and it's quite happy. Note, however, that there's no support for Scart-type signals (RGB and composite sync).
Setting up the HC2000 is straightforward, and front/rear/ceiling projection configurations are all supported. I was particularly impressed with the medium-throw lens, which is capable of projecting a distortion-free image of up to 250in diagonally.
Up and running
In our test room, which is approximately 4m long, I ceiling-mounted the HC2000 and set it up to produce an 80in diagonal picture on our motorised Stewart Filmscreen. Because zoom and focus are powered, you can make these adjustments comfortably from the viewing position via the remote - both horizontal and vertical keystone correction are available if you're restricted in where you can locate your projector.
Menu-driven picture tweaks include black stretch, colour temperature (there's a 6500K preset, as well as RGB adjustments), gamma adjustment, display position, black-level and white enhance in addition to the usual control over brightness, colour-saturation, contrast and sharpness.
Those with darkened rooms can engage a low-power mode, which will bolster lamp life to an amazing 5,000 hours. My only criticism here is that you can't access the menus (even for basic display setup like projection mode) if no source is connected or active.
As far as picture quality is concerned, the HC2000 impresses. After calibration (Digital Video Essentials is a good bet if you're installing the projector yourself), I was rewarded with stunning contrast range and exceptionally vivid, yet natural, colour.
The dreaded rainbow effect traditionally associated with single-chip DLP projectors like the HC2000 only intrudes on occasions, thanks to the use of a 4x/5x eight-segment colour wheel.
From a critical standpoint, my only caveat is that detail levels with moving (rather than static) images from analogue sources are perhaps not the best I've seen - a comment that also applied to viewing sessions with Euro1080. I found that the use of an external scaler (like the iScan HD) can improve matters.
Overall though, the HC2000 couples a strong performance with a sensible round of features and connectivity.