Mitsubishi’s next-to-top-of-line 3LCD 1080p front projector is certainly very well equipped, with a host of improvements over the model it replaces, including the latest C2Fine inorganic Vertical Alignment LCD imaging panels, which provide noticeable improvements in very deep black and dark gray reproduction, along with Silicon Optix’s HQV Reon video processor.
The company has wisely carried over the excellent motorized optics from earlier models, with improved control over lens adjustment precision during setup. Many projectors in the Mitsubishi’s price range provide only manual focus, zoom, and offset adjustments, which hampers adjustment precision, especially if the projector is sited far from the screen.
Consider this HDTV if:
you’re looking for an all-round first rate performer, which has top-notch video processing courtesy of the HQV Reon chip, the latest C2Fine inorganic Vertical Alignment LCD imaging panels, and which provides truly inky blacks and great dark gray detail. What’s more, the projector adds not one but two widescreen anamorphic processing modes, which are new for Mitsubishi.
Look elsewhere if:
you choose to ignore our “Playback Recommended” honor, which we’ve bestowed on the Mitsubishi given its tremendous price/performance ratio.
Overall picture quality (SD): 8
Overall picture quality (HD): 8
User Interface: 8
With the Mitsubishi’s motorized optics and dual-range controls, setup is a breeze. Once the projector is ceiling-mounted (or placed on a shelf towards the back of the room), simply take the remote control in hand and then make the requisite focus, zoom, and vertical offset adjustments right at the screen. The Mitsubishi offers coarse (to get you in the zone) and step (to get you right to the absolute optimum point) adjustments, and the vertical offset range is sufficient to allow above-the-screen placement, as well as allow shelf placement. The only limitation is that there’s no horizontal offset adjustment—no big loss for most users, I would expect.
New for this Mitsubishi is the addition of both Anamorphic Mode 1 (horizontal stretch) and Anamorphic Mode 2 (horizontal squeeze) scaling. The former provides the necessary 1.33 stretch for anamorphic lens compatibility, for true 2.40:1 ultra widescreen movie viewing. The latter mode allows the anamorphic lens to be fixed permanently in front of the projector’s lens (no motorized or manual lens sled needed), which can save between $1,000–$3,000 for those that want to display 16:9 non-anamorphic images with the anamorphic lens fixed in front of the projector lens. Given the Mitsubishi’s very reasonable price, that option is now available to an even wider consumer base. Other projectors that offer anamorphic scaling usually only include Mode 1 and not Mode 2, so Mitsubishi is to be commended for providing both stretch and squeeze modes.
The Silicon Optix Reon processor provides outstanding 480i and 1080i scaling and deinterlacing, with effective MPEG noise reduction modes for SD content (but not HD), where it’s more likely to be needed. (The step-up HQV Realta processor does provide both HD and SD MPEG noise reduction, but its increased cost precludes its inclusion in projectors in the Mitsubishi’s price range).
The HC5500 retains Mitsubishi’s traditionally excellent “shutter” control adjustments, which allows slight cropping to exorcise random picture noise at the extreme edges of the picture (something you’d notice when watching SD content on an HD channel for example, when the projector is set to 1:1 100% scaling mode).
The Mitsubishi puts out a bright enough image with the low-lamp mode that most users can get by just fine without needing to run it in the high-lamp mode, which will provide substantially extended lamp life. The Mitsubishi runs super-quietly too, running virtually inaudibly as long as the soundtrack is barely louder than a whisper—I could only notice the faintest and most gentle “whooshing” sound when the audio system was completely stifled.
About par for the course, the Mitsubishi has two HDMI inputs, along with component, S-video and composite connections. The PC input can only handle resolu tions up to 1024x768 (XGA)—for higher PC resolutions you’ll need to use one of the two HDMI inputs. A trigger output is handy for motorized screen or drapery control.
On Screen Display