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Top Five Most Popular 1080p Projectors

Evan Powell, August 1, 2008

Mitsubishi HC5500

Many folks these days are interested in a super widescreen Cinemascope 2.35 format for their home theater. If you are among them, the Mitsubishi HC5500 is worth a close look. It is the only projector among these five that allows you to place an anamorphic lens in front of the projector, and leave it in place no matter what type of subject matter you are watching. Typically, with the other projectors that have anamorphic lens compatibility, you need to move the lens into place when viewing a 2.35 movie, and then remove it when watching standard 16:9 or 4:3 material. Moving the lens can be done automatically if you install a motorized track, or it can be done manually if you don't. Either way, the HC5500 has a dual anamorphic scaling mode that lets you avoid the cost and the nuisance of moving the lens back and forth.

Other key advantages

• Up to 5000 hour lamp life when operating in low power mode.

• Powered zoom and focus lens (all others are manual except the Panny AE2000)

• Powered vertical lens shift (all others are manual)

• Small form factor, and 12 lbs total weight, for easy portability

• A 1.2x zoom lens that is relatively short throw-this means you can get a bigger picture in a smaller room than you can with the BenQ W5000

• Super quiet fan noise.

• One year, or 500 hour (whichever comes first) warranty on the lamp.

Limitations

Though the HC5500 is a solid, competitive 1080p projector, there is nothing in terms of image quality that makes it stand out from the competition. We measured ANSI contrast at 260:1, which is about the same as the Epson Cinema 1080 UB, and a bit lower than the Panasonic AE2000 and Sanyo Z2000. It has a bright picture in video optimized mode, which we measured at 605 ANI lumens. However, it does not have the extra bright operating modes that are found on the Panasonic AE2000 and the Epson 1080 UB.

The short 1.2x zoom lens and lens shift of two picture heights imposes some restrictions on where it can be placed in the room. The BenQ W5000 has the same restrictions, but it has a longer throw distance that in smaller rooms can make it even more restrictive. Meanwhile, the AE2000, the Z2000, and the Cinema 1080 UB all have more flexibility with their 2.0x zoom lenses and greater lens shift ranges.

In short, if you are going to put a lot of hours on your projector, the 5000 hour lamp life may be of real consequence. And if you are going with an anamorphic lens, the HC5500 will save you the nuisance of moving the lens back and forth, and it will save you the cost of either a motorized lens track, or an external video processor that would accomplish the same thing as the HC5500's internal scaling.


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Review Contents: Intro and BenQ W5000 Epson HC 1080UB Mitsubishi HC5500 Panasonic PT AE2000
  Sanyo Z2000

Buy the BenQ W5000 online here:

 

Buy the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 UB online here:

 

Buy the Mitsubishi HC5500 online here:

 

Buy the Panasonic PT-AE2000U online here:

 

Buy the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 online here: