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Mitsubishi HC3800 Projector Mitsubishi HC3800
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4000:1 Contrast Ratio
1300 Lumens
Street Price: n/a

Mitsubishi HC3800
Home Theater Projector Review

Bill Livolsi, November 13, 2009

The Mitsubishi HC3800 is a new DLP 1080p projector that bridges the gap between sub-$1000 1080p projectors that have very good but not leading edge image quality, and 1080p projectors at $2,000 and up which are more fully featured. Its bright picture and solid contrast make it ideal for large-screen use in a darkened theater, but it could easily serve secondary duty in a living room during football season. The HC3800's beautiful, film-like picture can be had for a mere $1,499. This review will cover its strengths and weaknesses, and discuss how it compares to the Epson 8100.


Lumen output. Thanks to its high lumen output, the HC3800 is appropriate for either cave-like theaters or bright living rooms. The HC3800 does not have image modes, per se, but it does offer several gamma and color temperature settings which you can mix and match to get the brightness and color balance you need.

"Sports" gamma, coupled with the "High Brightness" color temperature preset, create the brightest possible picture, which measured 1346 lumens on our test sample. This is actually higher than the 1300 lumens claimed on the spec sheet. Contrast in this mode is not as high as in other modes, nor is color balance anything to brag about, as it leans heavily towards green. But in a room with ambient light, it will provide the raw lumen power you need to put a dynamic picture up on the wall or screen.

"Cinema" gamma, coupled with one of the "User" color temperature calibrations, yields 621 lumens on our test sample. Thus, Cinema mode puts out a bright picture that is more than competitive with comparable projectors. The use of a screen up to 150" diagonal is possible in a dark room with good light control.

In many situations, 621 lumens is too bright. One way to lower lumen output is to choose Low lamp mode, which reduces light output by 15%. This not only lowers fan noise, but it also has the huge benefit of increasing potential lamp life from 2,000 to 5,000 hours. We suspect most users will want to run in low lamp mode to extend lamp life and keep fan noise to a minimum.

BrilliantColor, which despite the name does not have much of an effect on color, is enabled by default in Sports mode; disabling it reduces lumen output by 22%. BrilliantColor is not enabled by default in Cinema mode, so it is useful when you need to increase lumen output in Cinema mode and don't mind creating excessive brightness in the highlights (better for ambient light conditions).

Contrast. When a projector is rated at only 4000:1 contrast, many people assume that it is going to look dull and flat. This is not the case. The HC3800's ANSI contrast exceeds 600:1, which matches or beats that of many projectors that carry extreme on/off contrast ratings. What this means is that HC3800's black levels cannot compare with those of more expensive competitors. However, in the vast majority of scenes found in film content, the HC3800 looks just as dynamic and three-dimensional as any other projector on the market, and sometimes more so. The only time the level of black makes a big difference is when the screen goes black--for a title screen or an image of deep space, for example. You will notice a difference if you watch material involving night-time shots, as heavy shadows and night skies will look better on a projector with higher on/off contrast. But in scenes made up of average light levels, the HC3800's image is wonderful, with plenty of pop. Black levels are sufficiently black so as not to look muddy.

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Advantages and Limitations
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Reader Comments(20 comments)

Posted Nov 15, 2009 12:31 AM PST

By Alan

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Will this cost now not very competitive since the Panasonic is now less than USD2K ?

Posted Nov 15, 2009 7:26 AM PST

By Cory

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I noticed the HC3800 throw info is not up on your throw calulator, Evan, can you tell is the throw range for a 110" image?

Posted Nov 15, 2009 10:01 AM PST

By Mike

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I'm wondering how this compares to the PT-AE4000. Is there an appreciable picture quality difference between the two. The Panasonic is LCD, has a lot of features, but is the PQ better, disregarding price?

Posted Nov 20, 2009 6:00 PM PST

By Rick Wilbert

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Ok. I am a little confused, but I am pretty new to the projector scene. I want a ceiling mount about 10.5 ft from a 106'' screen. I could put up the Mitz or the 8100. I am wondering tho, you keep mentioning the ceiling mount you should use the Mitz. Why is that? My room is a dual use so during the day there will be a little ambient light, but it will mostly be used at night. Which one do you recommend? Also I will be using this to play my Xbox 360 as well as movies. Thanks for your help. Rick

Posted Nov 23, 2009 3:53 AM PST

By xuangewen

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I ask who has a deeper black HC6800 HC3800 Thanks

Posted Nov 24, 2009 10:22 AM PST

By William

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I buy one and I'm satisfied for a 1080p projo under 1800 $ CAD. I use 106" screen and the projector is about 11 feet from the screen.

Posted Dec 4, 2009 1:21 PM PST

By sean

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I am interested in using a tv projector can you have your digital cable ran through it. Do u need a special screen or can you use a blank wall?

Posted Dec 21, 2009 8:44 AM PST

By Pavel

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i have problem with the projector Mitsubishi HC3800. It´s probably a hardware error. I found during the projection, that the color homogeneity, especially with white color, goes from right to left side by 35% down with brightnes, respectively goes to the pink color. Projection is ceiling. When projection is front, you can see brightness in the opposite side. Brightness artefact is stable, without moving. Projector is new one, 2 hours in use, ambient temperature=22°C.

I tried to solve problem by:

- Use of other sources (HDMI, VGA from 3 different computers)

- Use the white test pattern without source

- exchange HDMI cable (length 1.5m)

- Using 3 different points of projection (to eliminate the possibility of

colored reflections from objects in the interior)

- projection from short / long distance

- zoom moving (without moving of artefacts)

- projection to white wall / projection screen

- front projection and ceiling projection

- reset settings to default

- Turn off the automatic correction of video modes

- calibrated settings from this forum vs default settings

- Switching mode Cinema / Sport / user

- Switching of color temperature

- Change eco lamp mode - normal mode

- use of other sources of power supply

- check the clarity of front lens


So, with contrast frame is best example, how person shows color difference in reality. I never met with this issue by DLP projector that I bought (Benq MP720p, Benq 7700, Optoma HD65). Yes it´s possible, than difference of uniformity was maximum approax 10 % global by projectors, but 35 %? What do you think? Do you met with this issue too?

Thanks for your opinion,


Posted Dec 24, 2009 12:45 PM PST

By Xavier

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Hi Pavel.

I have exactly the same problem as you !!!. White in the right side of the screen looks a bit blue and in the left side a bit yellow. I'm going to call my seller to know if is a hardware defect, and change it for another one ? Anybody else have the same problem ??? Help

Xavier (from Barcelona, Spain)

Posted Jan 7, 2010 3:53 PM PST

By Edgar_in_Indy

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I bought the 8100, and noticed that it had a little less "pop" than my old Sony VPL-AW15 (720p) projector. I am now interested in the HC3800, but I'm concerned about placement.

My Panasonic, Sony, and Epson projectors have all been mounted in the same place on the ceiling, probably about 16' from the wall throwing an image onto a 108" screen. I would like to move to a screen size between 135" and 150". With the previously mentioned (LCD) projectors, all I would have to do to is twist the lens and make some shift adjustments and, presto, 150" screen exactly where I want it.

If my calculations are correct, for a 150" screen the offset between the center of the lens and the top edge of the screen would be 43.5 inches. Add 6 to 8 inches for the drop of the projector mounted on the ceiling, and it looks like the top if the image would be more than 4 feet below the lens. In my basement, that has 8 foot ceilings, it seems like it would just be impossible to go with a very large image from this projector.

If I'm figuring correctly, it looks like once I go much over 100", the HC3800 starts to require a ridiculous amount of space between the top of the screen and the ceiling. To do even a 120" screen with the HC3800 mounted flush on my 8' ceiling, the bottom of the screen would have to be sitting with the bottom edge right on the floor, and would have 40 inches of space above it! Why do they make these things without any vertical lens shift???

Posted Jan 14, 2010 12:13 PM PST

By Doug

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For the person concerned about the lack of vertical lens shift, can't you just tilt the projector slightly upward and then keystone correct it?

Posted Jan 21, 2010 2:25 PM PST

By Todzilla

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Edgar and others,

You are calculating the offset incorrectly. The offset between the center of the lens and the image is 29% of the VERTICAL height of the image, NOT the diagonal size of the image. For a 150 inch diagonal screen, the height of the screen is 74 inches, which translates to a 21.5 inch offset. But trying to put a 150" screen in a room with 8 foot ceilings would require a projector with a zero offset anyways. You only have 96 inches of space from floor to ceiling and 74 of that would be covered with screen, which would only leave 11 inches above and below the screen.

Posted Jan 22, 2010 4:57 AM PST

By nabil Ammari

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hi guys ;

thinking of buying this and have it shipped to the middle east "qatar specifically" , but am wondering are there any defective units still in circulation, coz its darn too difficult to ship back for a replacement

Posted Mar 2, 2010 2:24 PM PST

By midloman

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Overall I am happy with the picture the HC3800 produces. My last projector was the Optoma HD70, it did a good job, but was under powered for my setup. The one physical complaint I have with the HC3800 is the placement of the IR receiver on the projector. There are 2, one the front and one on the back. Having it ceiling mounted,so the IR needs to be on the top. I sit underneath the projector but I have to stand in front of it to activate the remote. I guess I could rig some kind of mirror for the rear sensor, but that's missing the point. I have the HC3800 projecting on a 17.5 foot diagonal screen(wall) in my garage( converted to my home theater and light controlled). Even at that size the picture looks great and is plenty bright. I still might return it and wait for a 3d model.

Posted Apr 20, 2010 7:21 AM PST

By Michael

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Can anyone help a newbie adjusted the Medium color range to get to the 6500K as best as possible? What adjustements were made to make it better?

Posted Feb 13, 2011 10:26 AM PST

By David

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Would this projector be better than the Mitsubishi HD4000 from a few years ago?

Posted Dec 23, 2013 10:11 AM PST

By Michael

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Hi i have bought the mitsubishi hc 3800 projektor and its the best buy i ever did. It has a good sharp picture and a long lamp time if you use the low lamp mode. I only have one problem now. Because of apartment rennovation my projektor has been securely packed away but now as i have remounted it in my ceiling again getting ready to use it again. It wont show any picture. Only the black and white ant war and it says no signal sometimes. My projektor is mounted in the ceiling with a proper projektor hanger. For cable i am using a 10 meter long highspeed hdmi cable 1, 4 from my blu-ray to the projektor. I have used this combination for 2 years now and it has worked perfectly until after the rennovation. Still using the original lamp. Think it might be a setting on the projektor that im missing but not shure. Would shurely appreciate any help to get it working again if you know what to do. Regards Michael

Posted Nov 9, 2014 3:57 PM PST

By Bryan

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I have a question about my HC 3800. After turning on Power then all fans running for about 10 seconds and bulb starts. It goes into a fault of red\green on power and blinking green on status button. Any ideas???

Posted Nov 18, 2014 4:49 PM PST

By Peter

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Same problem as Bryan posted Nov 9 2014 I had installed a new bulb 2 weeks before problem stated

Posted Nov 29, 2014 6:42 AM PST

By Peter

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Bryan it told me that when I installed new lamp that if the lamp cover was not on properly I would get the blinking lights. took off put back on same problem 2weeks later did it again a little more forceful with cover 1 week so far so ggod

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