Product Review (February 2009) - Mitsubishi
HC5500 1080p High Definition LCD Projector

By Kevin Nakano


Mitsubishi's new HC5500 High Definition 1080p LCD projector is the company's latest entry level design that takes some of the best attributes of the HC4900, HC5000 and HC6000 projectors and targets those looking to get native 1080p (Full HD) resolution at an affordable price. The HC5500 uses a trio of the latest generation of inorganic LCD panels that are rated to last approximately 10 times longer than conventional organic film panels. The result is a high definition picture that will be stables for years. The HC5500 also features the impressive Reon-VX video processor for an outstanding picture in your home theater system. The 14-bit gamma correction has 16 times the gradation levels of the earlier 10-bit designs resulting in improved picture quality, especially in the dark areas of the image. Light output on the HC5500 is an impressive 1200 ANSI lumens with a full ON/OFF contrast ratio of 14,000:1 according to the manufacturer.

The HC5500 is designed with a newly structured cooling duct to improve liquid
crystal panel cooling efficiency. Fan noise is virtually non-existent in the Low Power mode and barely audible in the Normal mode thanks to a low-noise fan (large-size Sirocco fan) mobilizing a downsized motor that secures an ample air inlet for improved air intake efficiency, all while slashing the overall noise level to only 19dBA in the Low Lamp mode. This low power mode also has the advantage of extending the lamp life from 2000 hours to an whopping 5000 hours. At a replacement cost of $459 for the lamp, many users will find this option useful.

The Mitsubishi HC5500 offers a fast auto-iris control algorithm that is often found in more expensive models. The design automatically controls the light intensity on the screen with high precision and speed, resulting in deeper blacks and brighter whites. A 160W UHP lamp supplies the light source and can last up to 5000 hours in the Low Power mode. Video from Blu-ray players that are 1080p/24 will get displayed at twice the rate instead of applying a 2-3 pulldown that often adds judder to motion. The HC5500 comes with Mitsubishi's 2-year warranty with a one year or 500 hour warranty on the bulb. The HC5000 is a light-weight projector weighing only 12.3 pounds and measuring 13.1" x 4.9" x 13.8" (WxHxD). The best part is that this projector has an MSRP of $2495.

This projector design can be used with an anamorphic lens — something not commonly found in this pricing category. The flexible internal scaling allows the anamorphic lens to be permanently installed regardless of the source material. This greatly simplifies the screen and eliminates the need for sophisticated and costly screen options when viewing 2.35:1 or smaller aspect ratios.

Motorized Lens
The HC5500 has a motorized optic assembly that is one of the best features of this projector. Zoom, focus and vertical lens shifting is completely adjustable through the remote or top control panel. A convenient test pattern can be generated with a push of a button, making setup a simple and accurate process. Once the settings are in place, the user can lock them from being changed accidentally. The light source comes from a 160-watt high pressure lamp.

This latest projector design from Mitsubishi features a faster auto-iris that can respond to dynamic changes in the picture resulting in a higher contrast than earlier models. The auto-iris feature will automatically control the level of light projected from the lens by constantly adjusting the mechanism based on the incoming video content. This worked well and greatly improved the black levels.

Top Controls
The top of the HC5500 has nine buttons that allow control of the unit without the use of the remote. Some of the buttons have dual functions when the menu is active or when setup adjustments are being made. This is most useful when using the projector in a tabletop configuration. We had little use for these controls since our projector was mounted inverted on the ceiling. The Status and Power indicators provide information about the projector state and lamp condition. In Standby, the Power light is red. When the projector is powered on, both the Status and Power lights turn green. If at any time the Power indicator turns red, an abnormal condition has occurred within the projector and service is needed. This can be as simple as the lamp needing replacement.

Remote
The HC5500 remote is a great design that not only has a nice layout, but it is also easy to read in the dark. Buttons are fully backlit, allowing it to work well in poorly lit media rooms. When any of the buttons are pressed, the backlight illuminates all the keys. The remote operates on a pair of "AA" batteries and the original ones that came with the remote are still working even after 3 months of frequent use. Separate power ON and OFF buttons make it difficult to accidentally shut the unit off. Turning the projector off requires two successive presses of the OFF button. The AUTO POSITION button is used to optimize the picture position when using the PC input. Six dedicated input buttons select from HDMI1, HDMI2, PC, Component, S-video and Composite inputs. A set of three A/V memory buttons are included for custom configurations. The navigation buttons (left, right, up and down) work in conjunction with the Menu button. The IRIS button controls the setting of the automatic dynamic iris. Picture controls for CONTRAST, BRIGHTNESS, COLOR TEMP, GAMMA, SHARPNESS, and COLOR SAT (saturation) are also present. The HC5500 has the ability to shift the projected image vertically using the remote control. This offers good flexibility when setting up the image onto the screen. It is not uncommon to have the projector mounted slightly off from an ideal position and the vertical lens shift allows for moderate levels of correction without introducing geometric distortions. Focus control on the HC5500 is also fully motorized and controlled using the remote, making it a snap to dial in a crisp picture. The is one of the better remotes we have seen over the years.

Interfaces
The rear panel of the HC5500 accommodates all standard video interfaces including composite, s-video, component video, 15-pin RGB/component, and two HDMI v1.3 inputs. The HDMI digital interfaces support 10-bit and 12-bit video in addition to the current 8-bit color, resulting is less color banding and false contouring often found in earlier projectors. Video formats supported are 1080p/60/30/24. 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p, and 480i. Computer resolutions as high as 1600x1200 are supported as well.

Having two digital video interfaces on the unit made it easier to connect equipment. . There is also an RS232 port that can be used to command the projector from an outboard controller. An IEC power receptacle is located here and accommodates a wide range of power source options (100V-240V, 50/60Hz). A 12-volt trigger output that can be used with motorized screens and provide up to 200mA of current is also provided.

HQV Video Processing
The HQV™ (Hollywood Quality Video) processor from Silicon Optics has been well received by consumers and has become the image processor of choice. The display technology alone does not make for a good projector, but requires that all source material gets properly converted to the native resolution and frame rate for the best performance. The HC5500 includes the Reon-VX HQV processor, which is designed to handle a mix of video and film sources with 10-bit I/P conversion. The processor also up-converts standard definition to full 1920x1080 high definition. The HQV processor compensates chroma up-sampling errors that often degrade the picture. This results in a better reproduction of high-definition images without the common color blur or loss. In addition, the HQV™ noise reduction processing works on a per pixel basis to maximize picture quality. The HC5500 performed well with a wide variety of source material including everything from 480p to 1080i.

Installation
The HC5500 has a zoom range of 1.2x with a vertical lens shift of 2.0 picture heights. Like the HC5000 and HC6000, the HC5500 is a breeze to install with the motorized optic assembly. We mounted the HC5500 using a Peerless Industries' PRG Precision Gear Projector Mount, which helped us quickly align the image and get the review done with little pain. The short zoom range will require the projector to be fairly close to the screen. Our 100-inch Stewart FireHawk needed to have the projector placed between 10.5-feet and 12.7 feet. Mitsubishi has completely eliminated the horizontal lens shift on the HC5500. The vertical lens shift helps acheive near perfect geometry when the projector is placed just above the screen. The HC5500 also features up to ±15 degrees of vertical digital keystone correction. Installers need to do their homework before mounting the projector to avoid potential setup issues. Even with the projector mounted directly over our heads, the fan noise was extremely quiet in the Low output mode. The Standard power mode increased the fan noise slightly, but was still quiet compared to most projectors we have reviewed. The motorized focus also helped optimize the picture since we could look at the image up close while dialing in the perfect picture.

We connected only a single HDMI cable to our HC5500 review unit. All video content was sent over an 25-meter Accell Corporation UltraRun™ 1.3 (25-meter) HDMI cable from our Denon AVR-5308CI A/V receiver. We didn't bother testing out the analog interfaces since all of our video sources have HDMI including our HTPC (Home Theater PC). We were able to set the HTPC to a native resolution of 1920x1080, which match the native resolution of the display. This gave us a huge 100-inch monitor with excellent resolution to play games or surf the net.

Display Primaries
The color accuracy of the HC5500 was excellent with the primary and secondary colors measuring near ideal. Our measurements were read from our 100" Stewart FireHawk filmscreen using the GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Spectrophotometer along with the Milori ColorFacts PRO software. The CIE chart shows where the ideal primaries are located with the smaller three points joined by the darker lines. The measured primary colors are indicated by the red, green and blue markers connected together with the white triangle. Only colors inside the triangle can be produced by the projector. Each primary and secondary color measured very closely to the reference standard with green slightly shifted towards yellow. This is somewhat common in many of the projectors we have reviewed. Both red and blue were right on target and the secondary colors were quite accurate as well. Obviously, the color accuracy measured here had much to do with the excellent color performance we experienced with this projector. Flesh tones took on a very natural look and color saturation was excellent. Greens were lush and blues were deep.

Color Tracking
We calibrated the RGB input of the HC5500 since our VP300 only supports analog outputs. The calibration works the same for each of the inputs on the HC5500 with indepedent memory settings for each. We set the black level using the PLUGE pattern and checked that the stair step levels did not crush the blacks or whites. The Gamma was set to Cinema and the Color Temperature was set to Medium when initial readings were taken. According to the manual, the Medium setting gets us close to the ideal 6500°K. We then set the Color Temperature to User and adjusted the grayscale tracking using the RGB Contrast and Brightness controls. This allowed us to dial in the best setting for both low and high IRE levels. We took most of our measurements using DataColor's ColorFacts PRO software connected to a GretagMacbeth Eye-One Beamer. The pre-calibrated grayscale was pretty good right out of the box. Once calibrated the HC5500 tracked 6500°K very well across all measured IRE levels.

Performance
The full 1080/24p video sourced from our Sony PlayStation3 produced detailed images with smooth panning. The HC5500 supports both 60Hz and 24Hz frame rates in 1080p modes. The onboard Silicon Optix Reon VX HQV™ video processor is among the best currently available for deinterlacing and scaling incoming video to the native 1080p resolution. The new high speed iris on the HC5500 helps produce deeper black than some of the earlier models.

The motorized focus, zoom and vertical lens shift features proved to be beneficial when making small adjustments during installation. The dense pixel structure would normally require two people to set the focus, but with the fully motorized controls it is an easy one person task. The HC5500 projector is amazingly quiet even mounted directly overhead.

The majority of our testing was performed with our Sony PlayStation 3 running both animation and 24 fps film-based Blu-ray material. Kung Fu Panda, Wall-E and Horton Hears A Who all looked fantastic with this projector. We also watched Jumper and 1408, where dark scenes provided nice shadow detail. Overall resolution was incredible even on our 100-inch Stewart FireHawk Filmscreen and our relatively close (12-feet) seating position. We attribute much of this to the 10-bit processing used in the Silicon Optix Reon VX HQV™ video processor. Brightness uniformity was good with very little banding in the picture. Much of our program material came from our Dish Network ViP-722 DVR. Even the 1080i high definition material looked great with excellent resolution. All our analog video sources were processed by our Denon AVR-5308CI receiver which uses a Silicon Optics HQV Realta video processor. We felt that most users will use either an outboard video processor or a receiver to handle video switching.

Conclusion
The latest HC5500 is a combination of the best Mitsubishi has to offer consumers at a price that is truly affordable. The company has been able to take to best attributes of the earlier designs and fold them into a product that meets both the performance and budget home theater enthusiasts are looking for. The projector has worked flawlessly during our rather long review time and the picture has been consistantly good throughout. Colors are accurate and with a punchy image even with the large 100-inch Stewart FireHawk screen. The cooling system on the HC5500 is very quiet, which allows for direct overhead mounting without distracting the viewers. The on-screen menus were logical and easy to use. We ran all our video content using a single high quality HDMI cable and the results were very consistant with no drop outs. Historically the Mitsubishis have been very good with the signal integrity of the HDMI signals. Some other projectors we have seen have been more sensitive to the longer cable runs. As always, we recommend getting a high quality cable especially when the length is significantly long.

Mitsubishi's latest HC5500 is a substantial improvement over earlier designs offering higher contrast, deeper blacks, improved video processing, 1080p/24 compatibility, and an auto iris that works well. Best of all the price is significantly lower than some of the earlier models with this level of performance. In addition, Mitsubishi is now offering the HC5500 with a $300 mail-in rebate along with a free lamp (worth over $400) for a limited time (until 3/31/2009). For well under $2500, consumers can now get full 1080p video with some of the best video processing available in any projector. Add in the power focus, zoom, and lens shift capability and you have a high performance projector at a great price.

- Kevin Nakano






OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
A/V Receiver: Denon AVR-5308CI THX-Ultra 7.1 Channel Receiver
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier

Video Processor/Scaler: Anchor Bay Technologies DVDO iScan HD+ A/V Processor
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box: Dish Network ViP622 HDTV Satellite and Terrestrial Receiver with HDMI
Blu-ray DVD Player: Sony PlayStation3 with HDMI 1.3
HD-DVD Player: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player with HDMI
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer
DVD Player: OPPO Digital OPDV971H DVD Player with DVI Output
D-VHS VCR: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
Media Server: Kenwood Sovereign MRH1 Entre
Remote Control: Remote Technologies Inc. T4 Controller
HDMI Video Switcher: Octava 4 Port HDMI/Toslink Audio Switcher
DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
HDMI Cables: Accell 45-meter UltraRun HDMI Cable
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables


Review - At a Glance


Mitsubishi

HC5500 High Definition 1080p LCD Front Projector

Display Technology

0.74" 3-LCD (with Micro Lens), Inorganic C2 Fine™

Native Resolution

1920 x 1080 (Total 2,073,600 pixels)

Brightness

1200 lumens

Contrast Ratio

14,000:1 (Auto IRIS) Typical

Zoom/Focus

Powered Focus & Zoom (Zoom Ratio 1.2:1)

Projection Lens

F=24-29mm , F1.7-1.9

Throw Ratio

1.41 – 2.26

Offset Axis

(V) 4 : -1 - -4 : 1 (+/-75%) , (H) Screen Width +/-5% (with Variable H+V Powered Lens Shift)

Picture Size

50-300 inches

Source Lamp

160W

PC Compatibility

Resolution ; 640 x 480 (Expand) - 1920 x 1080 (Real) Sync on Green available

Video Compatibility

NTSC / NTSC 4.43 / PAL (including PAL-M, N) / SECAM / PAL-60
Video; 480i/p(525i/p), 576i/p(625i/p), 720p(750p 50/60Hz), 1080i(1125i 50/60Hz),
1080p(1125p 50/60Hz), SCART (RGB + 1V sync)

Input Terminals

PC: Mini D-Sub 15pin x 1, DVI-D(with HDCP) x 1
Video: HDMI™ x 1, RCA x 1, S-VIDEO x 1, RCA (Y,PB,PR) x 1, DVI-D (HDCP) x 1
PC audio input not available. Video audio input not available.

Output Terminals

12V trigger Out (do not plug-in an earphone to this terminal, stereo mini jack 3.5 mm) x1

Communication
Terminals

RS-232C; D-Sub 9pin x 1 (Direct command is available)

Scanning Rate

[H] 15 - 100 kHz, [V] 50 - 120 Hz, [Dot Clock] max 170 MHz

Height Adjuster

Two Push Front leg (-1 to 7 degree variable)

Hand Remote Unit

Projector Fully Control, Back light key, Direct functions with AV memory

Power Consumption

250W / 2.5 A

Dimensions

13.1" x 4.9" x 13.8" (WxHxD) (exclude height adjuster)

Weight

12.3 pounds

Power Requirements

AC 100 - 240 V, 50/60Hz

Fan Noise

19dBA (Low Mode), sea-level

Supplied Accessories

AC power cord
IR Remote control and batteries
RGB Cable
RS232 Cable
User Manual (with CD)
Safety Manual

Optional Accessories

Replacement Lamp (VLT-HC5000LP), PROJ-UCM, or PROJ-UCM-PRO

Key Features

Silicon Optix Reon VX HQV™ Image Processing
Inorganic C2 Fine™ LCD panels
Side loading lamp design
Auto Iris design
Vertical Lens Shift
3D Color Uniformity correction
3D Y/C digital comb filter and 3D noise reduction
A/V memory function
User adjustable gamma correction
Digital keystone correction (Vertical)
Password Menu Lock

Part Number

HC5000(BL) – for standard, all black cabinet
HC5000U – for special-order white top cover HC5000
(allow 8-10 weeks lead time)



Source: Manufacture Loan
Model Number: HC5500
MSRP: $2,495
Weight: 12.3 pounds
Dimensions (W x H x D): 13.1" x 4.9" x 13.9" inches
Warranty: 2-years Parts and Labor; 1-year or 500 hours on lamp

HC5000 Replacement Lamp: VLT-HC5000LP
HC5000 Replacement Lamp Cost: $459 (retail)

HC5500 Product Specification Sheet
HC5500 Projector Limited Warranty Statement
HC5500 Owners Manual

Company Information
Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Inc.
Presentation Products Division
9351 Jeronimo Road
Irvine, CA 92618
Phone: 888-307-0349
Source: Manufacture loan

Website: www.mitsubishi-presentations.com


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