Mitsubishi HC6800 LCD Projector Page 2
Mitsubishi’s remote is backlit, with direct access to the video inputs and the most often used controls.
The Mitsubishi employs the increasingly popular HQV Reon-VX for its video processing. For the most part (see the Video Test Bench chart), the processing was excellent. As with the Epson, which also uses the Reon, it had problems with our 2:2 tests in the Auto setting of the Cinema mode (in this case with both SD
and HD). It marginally passed the HD 2:2 test: It locked on to the cadence but broke lock and then reestablished lock with each pass of this cyclical test. But it failed the 2:2 SD test in Auto. (It passed both 2:2 tests in Film mode, but our pass/fail criteria requires a passing score in the Auto mode.)
The projector also failed the clipping test. It would not go below black. But it did go above white. Above white is the most important part of this test, since the black level (brightness control) is always set so it won’t go below black. However, the white level (contrast control) should always be set to allow visible headroom above white. Still, when a display fails to go below black, it makes it harder to set the black level correctly. While the Mitsubishi’s black level isn’t a major picture issue, its failure to go below black requires a failing grade on the clipping test.
The projector was respectably quiet in its Low Lamp mode, which was more than sufficiently bright on my modestly sized screen. The Standard mode was clearly louder, more so than the high settings on the other projectors. However, it’s unlikely to be audible with sound playing except at a very low level in a small room.
I could sometimes hear the auto iris operating (a clicking sound), but only with the sound off. On a couple of occasions, I thought I saw the auto iris pump as it adjusted to a rapid change in source brightness, but it wasn’t frequent enough to make me want to switch to manual iris operation. That was a good thing, because the projector’s blacks—or more precisely, the deep shadow detail—were an issue even with the iris operating in its best auto setting. While the iris in Auto 5 produced a strikingly good result for absolute black level (see HT Labs Measures), the visible result was—there’s no other way to put this—poor. Dark, low-contrast scenes, such as the night scene aboard the tramp steamer in chapter 3 of Stargate: Continuum and the night scene in the Indian town in chapter 4 of Seven Years in Tibet, had a milky gray haze over them that is typical of LCD displays with poor shadow detail. There was no comparison here with the other projectors in this group.
How could the projector produce such an impressive black-level measurement and still falter badly when it came to reproducing very dark, low-contrast scenes? I believe the answer is that the iris comes out of black far too fast. The Auto Iris transitions quickly to a mode in which it has significantly reduced effect and therefore begins to reveal the HC6800’s very low native full-on/full-off contrast ratio and high native black level (see HT Labs Measures). You get impressively deep blacks when the screen is fully dark, but even a small increase in light level on the screen triggers the iris to begin opening, which grays out dark, low-contrast images and impairs shadow detail.
Things picked up considerably at brighter levels. But it wasn’t easy to get there. The Mitsubishi was the most difficult of the projectors to calibrate, and I spent more than twice as much time calibrating it as I did the others. The color tracking before calibration was so poor that there was barely enough control to get it right. I had to use the red, green, and blue gamma controls to assist in this. I also had to adjust the overall gamma at the low end to eliminate a muddiness in the pre-calibrated image.
However, with that done, the Mitsubishi produced a generally pleasing picture on everything but the darkest scenes. By far, its greatest strength is its resolution. It is superbly detailed from corner to corner. My acid test for resolution is Baraka, which was gorgeously transferred from its original 70mm to Blu-ray. There’s so much detail here that it’s impossible to pick a prime example, but the Mitsubishi didn’t disappoint me in any way. The combination of apparently superb optics with nearly flawless panel alignment would be hard to beat even at much higher prices.
While the HC6800’s color came up short of the subjective and measured performance of the other two projectors, it was completely watchable. I suspect that most viewers will be perfectly happy with it. I still recommend a calibration, and the complications I mentioned above mean that a good calibration is likely to be pricey. But after adjustments, my only color criticism was a hint of phosphorescent bright greens, and that’s so common on digital projectors that it’s getting tiresome to have to keep mentioning it (but I do).
Overall, the Mitsubishi produces a pleasing picture on most sources. Even with the auto iris engaged, dark, low-contrast scenes are hazy enough to be distracting. In a direct comparison with the Epson, the latter’s superiority in shadow detail was painfully obvious.
But things aren’t quite that simple. Even at roughly half the price, the Mitsubishi’s resolution of detail was noticeably crisper than the Epson’s. Resolution alone isn’t quite enough for me to push it over the top. Dark scene performance and contrast are too important to me. But with its very attractive pricing (apart from a rather high lamp-replacement cost), respectable performance on most program material, and striking detail on the best sources, the Mitsubishi just might work for you.