In prehistoric times (that is, around 10 years ago), Mitsubishi made a variety of CRT rear-projection TVs that were really good values for the dollar. Now, those dinosaurs are nearly extinct, and the company has evolved into a premier digital-display manufacturer. Among its current species is a competitively priced, onechip DLP front projector that is surprisingly good for the money.
The HC3000 exhibits a native resolution of 1280x768 for a list price of only $3900. Employing a new DMD chip with DarkChip2 enhancements, the HC3000 doesn’t display blacks that are quite as rich and deep as similar projectors that use DarkChip3 technology. The new chip’s native resolution is just starting to appear in low-cost DLP projectors, yielding an odd 15:9 aspect ratio rather than the industry standard 16:9. This does offer one small advantage: It gives the projector a small amount of electronic vertical-image shift, which is beneficial when positioning the projector relative to the screen, especially since it lacks a physical vertical lens-shift function.
This is one of the few compact projectors with the lens assembly centered on the chassis, which makes physical placement relative to the screen easier than with most other digital projectors that have the lens on the left or right side of the chassis. It also gives the projector a sleeker, sexier look. The remote is quite small and, consequently, a little awkward to manipulate. I was happy to find that all the buttons are backlit. All you have to do is hit a button and they all light up instantly. This makes calibrating the projector in a darkened room a snap. Custom installers will appreciate that there are direct-access keys for most of commonly used functions. The internal menu system is logically designed and well laid out, making navigation quite easy.
As with virtually all front projectors, the HC3000 has no real consumerconvenience features such as PIP (picture- in-picture), etc. However, it does offer more setup and picture-enhancing features than many projectors in its class. For example, it employs a new feature developed by Texas Instruments called Brilliant-Color. This feature increases the overall brightness of the picture, and Mitsubishi claims that it increases the color space defined by the primary colors of red, green, and blue.
Selectable color temperatures are at your disposal, but the 6500 setting wasn’t even close to the broadcast standard color temperature of 6500 kelvins. This didn’t come as a big surprise since it is a rare manufacturer who can deliver an accurate preset. Two lamp modes and a manual iris are available for controlling the brightness depending on the screen size. On my relatively small, 72-inchwide Stewart Studiotek 130 screen, I used the LOW LAMP mode and minimized the iris aperture. Even so, I ended up bringing the CONTRAST down to –20 to tame the overly bright picture. After all that, I measured a very bright 22 footlamberts at peak white.
The HC3000 has a 200-watt lamp, which is quite powerful for a small single- chip DLP projector, allowing it to fill larger screen sizes than many projectors in its class. For this and all similar single-chip DLP projectors—and LCD projectors for that matter—I recommend using a Stewart Grayhawk RS screen for dedicated theaters with full light control. In the case of the HC3000, I recommend screen sizes with that material in the 84- to 96- inch-wide range, no larger.
The connectivity is somewhat limited; specifically, I wish it had a second HDMI input so separate calibrations could be performed for two different digital-video sources. Other inputs include one high-bandwidth component- video, one S-video, one composite video, and one 15-pin VGA input for computer connections. Custom installers will appreciate the RS232 control port for programming touchpanel remote-control systems from AMX and Crestron.
Considering its price, the HC3000 performs quite well. The overall color accuracy is good. The primary colors of red, green, and blue are more accurate than from many DLP and LCD projectors I’ve tested, which is refreshing indeed. My measurements showed the actual x and y coordinates for red to be significantly closer to their intended targets when BrilliantColor was on.
However, contrary to Mitsubishi’s claims, measurements of green and blue showed no improvement at all. On the other hand, BrilliantColor perceptibly brightened the picture. Color decoding was accurate for both HD and SD video sources with no “red push,” which means you get really good color saturation when properly calibrated. The two other important components of color accuracy—gamma and grayscale tracking—were also impressive. The projector has a number of selectable gamma and color-temperature settings to choose from. I selected the USER 1 gamma preset for my evaluation because it was the most accurate setting with the slowest rise out of black. The USER color-temperature setting is the only one that allows a full calibration; as I noted previously, the 6500 setting was way off.