Mitsubishi HC3800 DLP HD Projector (The Perfect Vision 86)

Amazing Color Accuracy at an Affordable Price

 

Carrying a very affordable price tag, Mitsubishi’s 1080p DLP projector delivers performance on par with much more expensive models

Priced at under $1,500, Mitsubishi’s HC3800 delivers a picture that’s comparable to more expensive models, and is a great choice for a starter home theater system. As you would expect at this price point, you’ll have to give up some features, including horizontal and vertical lens shift, which will hamper installation flexibility for some.

On the test bench with HD (1080i and 1080p) patterns and clips, the HC3800 delivered a very good score. It only came up short when upconverting standard definition (480i) sources, stumbling on SD deinterlacing test patterns.

 

 

 

OVERVIEW

Consider this projector if: you’d like a very good performing projector at a most reasonable price. The value quotient is even higher at the moment, as Mitsubishi is running a rebate program that provides purchasers with a spare lamp for free (the MSRP on the replacement lamp is $299), that runs through the end of March 2010.

Look elsewhere if:you plan on tabletop or shelf mounting, as the lack of lens shift and the projector’s generous vertical offset really make it useful for ceiling mounting only.

Ratings (relative to comparably priced projectors)

  • Overall picture quality (SD): 6
  • Overall picture quality (HD): 9
  • Features: 8
  • Connectivity: 7
  • User interface: 8
  • Value: 9

 

 

FEATURES

As mentioned earlier, the lack of horizontal and/or vertical lens shift needs to be taken into consideration for users who don’t plan on ceiling mounting the unit. There’s a fair amount of built-in vertical offset, which allows closer-to-the-ceiling mounting, but that same fixed vertical offset works against you if you want to put the unit on a shelf or table further back in the room (unless it’s positioned quite low to the floor).

Equipped with a 230 watt lamp, the HC3800 puts out sufficient brightness in the standard lamp mode to fill a generously-sized screen, and Mitsubishi spec’s the lamp life in that mode at 3,000 hours, a fair bit more than the usual. In the low lamp mode (which cuts light output down about 25% or so), the lamp life is extended to 5,000 hours, and the projector runs more quietly as well.

For those considering going the widescreen (2.40:1 aspect ratio) route with an external anamorphic lens such as the Panamorph, the HC3800 features not one, but two anamorphic screen modes. Mode 1 scaling provides the requisite vertical stretch, and is appropriate for setups that feature a movable external anamorphic lens. Mode 2 scaling provides horizontal squeeze, which is needed for setups where the external anamorphic lens is fixed in place in front of the projector’s lens. Having both modes (most projectors only provide Mode 1 scaling) adds to installation flexibility for both movable and fixed widescreen anamorphic lens setups.

 

Connectivity

With the wide availability of affordably priced A/V receivers that feature HDMI switching and upconversion, the HC3800’s single HDMI input will probably be sufficient for most, and the same is true for the composite and S-video inputs. An RGB PC input is provided, but it can only handle resolutions up to 1600 by 1200 (UXGA), which might be of concern to PC gamers. A 12V trigger output can accommodate a motorized screen control (or external anamorphic motorized lens sled).

Comments

blindjim (not verified) -- Fri, 02/19/2010 - 12:19

I own a Ben Q PE 7700 DLP projector, and am seeking one more for replacement and trickle down aspirations. The recent Epson LCD selling for $1600 appears as a far better choice than the Mitsubishi, wouldn’t you think? 4000 hr lamp life in any mode sure is a real life good thing! Aren't DLP pros often without lens shiftings options in general, apart from keystone up/down correction? As a 1080P unit, shouldn't upsampling SD to HD DVDs be considerably better and more HDMI inputs be available? For $100 more, going to an 3 panel LCD pro from Epson, these items are eliminated, and the feature set of memory, interface options, lens shift and upsampling are all addressed. Further, aren't most DLP pros inherently better at blacks and natural color reproduction over that of LCD? i WONDER TOO WHY NO POINT OF FACT COMPARISONS WERE MADE TO OTHER CLOSELY PRICED PROJECTORS. I think most enthusiasts are looking predominately at sticker price and then towards the feature benefit story so similarly priced units ought to be made mention of in these articles and will certainly add to the story's credibillity and usefulness. Personally the most appropriate comment in this account was the note on this being an entry level piece… and as such, it’s not a great value given it’s Reviewed results, feature set or flexibility. BTW… how come no mention of the noise level was made? That’s important too.

gunpunk (not verified) -- Wed, 03/03/2010 - 04:13

all awsome great projector 10/10 value for dollar fine picture /contrast colour rendition all very good best value for money i love it you will

mongoose (not verified) -- Fri, 03/05/2010 - 13:23

There is a lot to be said for a single chip DLP projector. Convergence issues on 3 panel LCD's are common, with many units being returned with a slight blur. A single chip DLP tend to be very sharp !. For movies my own viewing of the HC 3800 showed a bit more sharpness than the Epson 8100. I also did not think the Epson 8100 did such a great job with upconverting.SD.
However, your other points are well taken. The Epson with all of it's flexibility benefits,fan quietness and great Epson service make it an equally great buy....and in fact will work better for most people's home theater space. The 8100 looks to be a bit better for general HD too.. I am more interested in the cinema capabilities in a very dark room. That is where the HC3800 shines......if it will work in your space (room size,ceiling height etc).

mongoose (not verified) -- Fri, 03/05/2010 - 14:05

There is a lot to be said for a single chip DLP projector. Convergence issues on 3 panel LCD's are common, with many units being returned with a slight blur. A single chip DLP tend to be very sharp !. For movies my own viewing of the HC 3800 showed a bit more sharpness than the Epson 8100. I also did not think the Epson 8100 did such a great job with upconverting.SD.
However, your other points are well taken. The Epson with all of it's flexibility benefits,fan quietness and great Epson service make it an equally great buy....and in fact will work better for most people's home theater space. The 8100 looks to be a bit better for general HD too.. I am more interested in the cinema capabilities in a very dark room. That is where the HC3800 shines......if it will work in your space (room size,ceiling height etc).

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