Mitsubishi HC5000 review

Another great offering from Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi have pushing the envelope of affordable cinephile projectors

TechRadar Verdict

Mitsubishi have created another home projector masterpiece


  • +

    Beautiful colour and detail reproduction

    Extremely quiet


  • -

    Black level can be found wanting

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While Mitsubishi is a diminished force in the UK consumer electronics field, it continues to surge in the world of projectors.

And rather than offer a token home cinema PJ amid a flotilla of corporate light canons, it's pushing the envelope of affordable cinephile projectors. Witness its new HC5000, an LCD model that bristles with cutting-edge technology.

Offering a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 and sporting the latest HQV Reon Silicon Optics image processor (now the processor of choice for any kit with cinephile pretensions), it's arrival should sound a warning klaxon for every other sub £3k projector on the market.

Despite the big-tech, the projector is surprisingly small. It has a pleasing white case which will blend with most ceilings, where it most likely will be mounted. But beneath the diminutive lid hides a true home cinema hero.

When it comes to sheer visual punch, the clarity of the HC5000 is second to none. The 2 million pixel count delivers images of stunning sharpness.

In The Matrix's Balbo Street subway-fight sequence, I could clearly make out the serial number of Agent Smith's gun (HD DVD release). And Mitsubishi's projector also does a great job with standard-def DVDs; the HQV processor effortlessly removes jaggies and adds solidity to otherwise thin video material.

Previous generations of LCD projection have suffered from a characteristic chicken-wire grid effect, which gave DLP a serious advantage in head-to-head shootouts. The denser pixel structure offered by the higher resolution 3LCD panel all but eliminates this. The result is an image which is convincingly filmic.

Colour fidelity is also impressive, even straight out of the box. Whether it's the hand-coloured frames of A Scanner Darkly, the live studio shots of the Britain's Got Talent or the green pitch and close-up flesh-tones that characterise coverage of Wimbledon, the HC5000 takes all in its stride - and with a natural looking greyscale to back it up.

If the HC5000 does have a visual Achilles' Heel then it's the black level. But even here there are caveats. The projector is actually capable of almost convincing blacks, courtesy of an auto-iris and low-lamp mode. In general use this works well, and I suspect owners will be very happy with its performance. But blacks can be prone to yo-yoing if/when a bright object enters the frame.

Compared to more expensive projectors (like JVC's D-ILA driven HD1) night scenes can appear merely dark grey even with calibration. The Matrix contains plenty of murky shadow imagery, and some of this disappears into a uniform darkness.

Despite this flaw, there are more compelling reasons to buy the HC5000 proposition that do not relate directly to picture performance.

First and foremost, the HC5000 is quiet. Stunningly quiet. Fan noise from projectors is more often than not seen as a necessary evil, but the HC5000 is probably the quietest projector HCC has ever encountered (around 19dB in low lamp mode).

This has a massive impact in the average living room environment. No longer are you hoping for the soundtrack to drown out the thrum of the projector. It dramatically enhances the viewing experience.

The quoted life times for the lamp are also impressive, at around 5,000 hours in eco mode. Lamp replacement is a simple, user-manageable job, even when the device has been ceiling mounted.

Ease of use is also excellent. On its top panel are all of the controls you'll need to configure and drive the projector - and all of the functions are duplicated on a sensibly-designed remote handset with backlit buttons. The built-in ƒ1.8-2.3 lens has a 1.6:1 zoom ratio, and is capable of delivering a 760cm (300in) diagonal 16:9 image at a projection distance of 9.5m.

A 3m diagonal 16:9 image, which should suffice for most serious home-cinema applications, is possible at distances of between 3.8m and 5.5m. Remember that the larger the image you're trying to project, the dimmer it will be.

The HC5000 is furnished with a host of picture-optimising adjustments that make it a calibrator's delight. In addition to the usual contrast, colour saturation and brightness are gamma, colour temperature, noise reduction, sharpness, overscan and horizontal/vertical position controls.

It's also possible to manually force deinterlacing mode. Three banks of user settings can be memorised per input, for recall at the touch of a button.

Connectivity is good. Mitsubishi has endowed the HC5000 with both DVI-D and HDMI inputs. Both accept 480i/576i directly and will support HDCP. As a result, you'll be able to simultaneously connect your disc player and high-def set-top box. If you choose to use the HDMI switcher that's built into an AV amp (or an external unit) then the DVI input is free for use with a computer.

There's also a 15-pin D-Sub 'VGA' input for computers that don't have a graphics card with digital output. This can also be used, in conjunction with the appropriate menu setting and cabling, with RGB Scart (RGBS) or a second component source.

Also present on the rear panel are a serial port that allows a PC (or home automation system) to take control of the projector, plus a 12V 'trigger' output for automatically-activating motorised screens.

In many ways, the HC5000 is a landmark product: a Full HD projector capable of blistering sharpness, that has all the right AV credentials (love that HQV processing) yet comes with a price-tag that seems surprisingly generous and table manners that delight.

Get an audition as soon as you can - but be warned, you'll probably end up buying it.