3D Home Theater Projector
October 2, 2012
This is shaping up to be a year of evolution rather than revolution in home theater projectors. Mitsubishi's latest offering is the HC8000D-BL, a successor model to their HC7800D that garnered high praise for its film-like image and smooth reproduction of detail and exceptional 2D to 3D conversion. The HC8000D-BL, in a clear continuation of this tradition, incorporates some definite improvements over last year's model in terms of picture quality in both 2D and 3D. Retail price is the same as last year, $2999, but that price includes an extended warranty, an extra lamp, and a picture that packs a punch.
The HC8000D-BL is being released in limited distribution and is available from authorized retail shops and custom installers. At the same time, Mitsubishi is releasing a second model for open distribution that will be available from online Internet resellers. This model, the HC7900DW, is quite similar to the HC8000D but it is a bit higher in lumen output, lower in contrast, and costs $2499 instead of $2999. While this review will focus on the HC8000D-BL, most observations can be applied equally to the HC7900DW. The differences between the two models are spelled out in the Comparison section.
The Viewing Experience
The HC8000D-BL, like its predecessor, is a projector intended for use in a darkened home cinema environment. And while it has a good deal of placement flexibility, the easiest place to mount it for most people will be on the ceiling due to some limitations on lens shift range.
We set up the HC8000D-BL on a low table, which is the best option for folks who don't want to ceiling mount their projectors (a rear shelf mount is not a realistic option unless it is a very low rear shelf). The HC8000D-BL has some vertical lens shift, just as the HC7800D did, but like its predecessor it has an upward throw angle even at the bottom of the lens shift range.
The picture from the HC8000D-BL is solid and competitive, but not uniquely exceptional in today's market. The projector has is a smooth, natural image and accurate color in Cinema mode that conforms very closely to the Rec. 709 standard, even before calibration. It can be marginally tweaked to more or less perfect after calibration. If, on the other hand, you want a punchier, more dramatic image, switching the projector to 2.4 gamma as opposed to the default 2.2 will give the picture some additional oomph.
If you want a reference projector, this is a good place to start. The HC8000D-BL, like its predecessor, is a no-frills, all-business approach to home theater, and users will get reliable performance from it.