In the past six months there have been several entry-level home theater projectors of exceptional quality released. Together they redefine what a low resolution projector is capable of. The latest addition to this group is the Mitsubishi HC100U Colorview, and it has a lot to offer.
Specifications. 1300 ANSI lumens, 2000:1 contrast, native 16:9 widescreen format, 854x480 resolution DLP chip with a 2x speed four-segment color wheel.
Compatibility. HDTV 1080i, 720p, 625p, 525p, 480p, and computer resolutions up to 1152x870. Full NTSC / PAL / SECAM.
Lens and Throw Distance. 1.20:1 manual zoom/focus lens. Throws a 100" diagonal image from 11'7" to 14'1", depending on zoom.
Lamp Life. 2,000 hours in high-brightness mode, 3,000 hours in standard mode.
Connection Panel. One composite video, one S-Video, One set of standard YPbPr component inputs, one 15-pin VGA port, one DVI port that supports DVI-D with HDCP, two sets of RCA audio-in ports, one 1/8" audio in port, and one RS-232C port for an external control.
Installation Options. Table mount, rear shelf mount, ceiling mount.
Warranty. Two years, 90 days for lamp.
The HC100 stands out in many ways, not least among them being lumen output. The HC100 is rated at a maximum of 1300 lumens, which makes it one of the brightest 854x480 projectors available at the time of this review (When this projector was announced at CES 2005, there was an error on the spec sheet that claimed 1500 lumens; this is incorrect). However, the more important number is the lumen output when set for optimum video - in this case, approximately 300 ANSI lumens, which is easily bright enough to provide a pleasant viewing experience in a darkened home theater environment.
If you need more light, there are several ways to boost lumen output without sacrificing too much image quality - i.e. enable CineRichColor, which will raise lumen output in the highlights about 20%, turn off sRGB, or switch the lamp to high-power. Setting the lamp to high power boosts lumen output approximately 15%, and reduces lamp life from 3000 to 2000 hours.
Brightness uniformity on our test unit was approximately 83%, which is better than average for this class of projector. We saw no visible hotspots and the video image appears to be evenly illuminated from side to side.