1080p DLP Home Theater Projector
Sharpness and Clarity. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between the inherent sharpness of a projector and the appearance of sharpness produced by high contrast; all else being equal, a higher-contrast projector will appear sharper. So we switched the HC4000 into the Sports/High Brightness mode mentioned previously, its lowest-contrast mode, in order to make sure we weren't mistaking one for the other. The HC4000 is indeed sharp. Fine detail is never muddy or blurred, even during fast motion. What's more, the HC4000 has very little digital noise, which aids in the perception of detail.
Throw Distance Flexibility. With a 1.5:1 zoom lens, the HC4000 is head and shoulders above most of its DLP competition when it comes to throw distance. The HC4000 can display a 120" diagonal image from a distance of about 12 to 18 feet. Since home theater rooms can take many different shapes and sizes, the long zoom range will help get the HC4000 into more homes.
Lamp life. The HC4000 has an estimated lamp life of 3,000 hours in high lamp mode and 5,000 hours in eco-mode, which is above average for this class of projector. What's more, replacement lamps cost only $299, meaning it costs between six and ten cents per hour to operate the projector.
Audible noise. Audible noise is important on a projector like the HC4000, since chances are it'll be sitting directly over your head or between your seats. The fan is noticeable, but not loud. Fan noise is low-pitched and sounds more like air emerging from an HVAC vent than the sort of high-pitched noise one would associate with an electronics fan. This is good news; low-pitched noise with no whine is much easier to "tune out" than high-pitched noise--especially if your home theater speakers are capable of any significant volume.
Slow signal lock. To display video, two HDMI devices must first perform a 'handshake' to identify themselves to one another before sending data. The HC4000 takes a long time to lock, initially, compared to other projectors. While this has no effect on the actual watching of the movie, it can get annoying when the projected image flashes between black and blue several times before finally locking to the signal from your DVD or Blu-ray player.
Connectivity. While the HC4000 has just about every connection one could wish for, it only has one HDMI port. Since just about every signal source uses HDMI these days, this could pose a problem unless your A/V receiver also includes an HDMI switcher.
Placement flexibility. While the HC4000 has better throw distance flexibility than most DLP projectors, the lack of lens shift can limit your options for installation. The projector's 33% upward throw angle offset is just about perfect for a ceiling mount, placing the image slightly higher than center on a standard eight-foot wall. You may not want to ceiling mount your projector, preferring to put it on a rear shelf or bookcase behind the seats. If that is the case, the HC4000 will be difficult to use without tilting it and applying keystone correction. We always avoid the use of keystone adjustment on 1080p projectors, as it forces the projector to compress all 1080p image sources including those from Blu-ray. As long as we have a 1080p projector and a 1080p source, we want to see the image mapped pixel for pixel for the best possible resolution.
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