New from Mitsubishi is the HC3800, a DLP 1080p which falls somewhere between really good projectors that do not have the best leading edge image quality for around $1,000 and fully featured 1080p projectors for around $2,000 and up. The HC3800 has a bright picture with good contrast to allow for use on a large screen in a darkened theater atmosphere but it is also good enough to be used in your personal living room.
The HC3800 has a high lumen output which makes it good for dark and bright rooms. Many projectors come with image modes but this device does not. It does, however, come with many different color and gamma temperature settings which allow for completely customizable settings. The brightest picture was created by using the "sports" gamma and the "high brightness" color temperature presets. The picture measured 1346 lumens. While in this mode, the contrast is slightly lessened as well as color balance. However, put this thing in a room with ambient light and it will produce a dynamic picture.
"Cinema" mode puts out a bright 621 lumens picture which is very comparable with other projectors and you can also use a screen up to 150" diagonally in a dark room with decent light control. However, 621 lumens is pretty bright for many situations. But by turning on low light mode you can reduce the lumen output by 15%. Low lamp mode has a few benefits to it other than a lower brightness. On one hand it greatly reduces fan noise and it also increases lamp life potentially from 2,000 to 5,000 hours. You can also reduce lumen output by another 22% by turning off BrilliantColor which is enabled by default.
The HC3800 has a contrast ratio of 4000:1. With such a contrast ratio, many people may think that the picture will be bland or dull. However, the HC3800's ANSI contrast exceeds 600:1. This ratio matches and even exceeds some projectors that carry extreme on/off contrast ratings. The HC3800's black levels can not compare with more expensive projectors but the HC3800 does look just as good as any other device.
Fine detail is cleanly displayed, even when it is in motion. The HC3800 had no problems passing the HQV Film Resolution Loss Test. In addition the HC3800 has very little digital noise in comparison to other models. Solid color areas like backgrounds and wallpapers are very clean and have nearly no noise about them.
The lens on the HC3800 has a manual 1:5:1 zoom lens which is very good for a DLP projector like this. Only 18% of maximum light output is lost between the telephoto and wide ends of the zoom lens. This allows the HC3800 to have a better throw range flexibility than some other DLP projectors available for $999 which offer 1.2x zoom.
Considering that the HC3800 is an inexpensive DLP projector, it is not surprising that it does not contain a lens shift. The image offset is 29% of the picture height which means, for example, that on a 100" diagonal screen, the bottom of the screen will appear 14" above the lens' centerline. An aggressive offset like this is useful mounting the projector on your ceiling or placing it on a small, low table. However, because of this you rule out rear shelf usage.
Overall the HC3800 seems to be a solid projector and it seems to be a good competitor in the low priced 1080p home theater projectors market. It comes with a bright video optimized picture that contains excellent contrast coupled with a 1:5:1 zoom lens. The HC3800 is economical with it's 5,000 hour lamp which will greatly reduce maintenance costs down the line. The HC3800 does require some calibration but that has proven to benefit most projectors. In conclusion Mitsubishi's HC3800 is an excellent projector and well worth your cash. You can pick one of these up for $1,499.
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