Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
Mitsubishi's HC7000 is their newest home theater projector, and the first in the "Diamond Series" of projectors. Their new flagship model sports a newer, sexier case design and claims a new all-time high for contrast at 72,000:1. With higher native panel contrast and a better auto iris than both the HC6000 and HC5500, great color, and near-silent operation, the HC7000 is by far the best projector we've seen from Mitsubishi to date.
The HC7000 is not the brightest 1080p projector on the market by any stretch. There are other projectors available which are superior for home entertainment in rooms with ambient light, but the HC7000 is not built with that purpose in mind. Contrast performance (both ANSI and on/off) is superb, and the HC7000 is perfect for dark room home theater.
The HC7000 is in restricted distribution and is being sold through designated, authorized Mitsubishi dealers and specialty retailers. As of this writing, it is not authorized for sale online. If you purchase it online, the warranty may not be valid.
Mitsubishi HC7000 Specifications
ANSI lumens: 1000
Contrast (full on/off): 72,000:1
Light Engine: 1920x1080, native 16:9, three-panel inorganic LCD with 160W lamp.
Video Compatibility: 1080p/60/50/24, 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p, 480i.
Connection Panel: Two HDMI 1.3 ports, one YPbPr component input, one VGA port, s-video, component video, one serial port, and a 12V trigger.
Lens and Throw Distance: 1.6x powered zoom/focus lens with powered vertical and horizontal lens shift. Throws a 100" diagonal 16:9 image from 10' 2" to 16' 6".
Lamp Life: 2,000 hours (5,000 hours in eco-mode)
Replacement lamp price: $450 retail. Street price closer to $330.
Warranty: Two years.
Excellent contrast. The HC7000 has some of the best ANSI contrast we have yet seen on an LCD projector; in video optimized mode we measured a hefty 409:1. To compare, the HC5500 measured 260:1; this is a huge jump for Mitsubishi and LCD projectors in general.
The HC7000 also has a much-improved auto iris system compared to Mitsubishi's previous models, the HC5500 and HC6000. The iris adjusts more quickly and closes more tightly. Black levels in dark scenes are now greatly improved, to the point where a completely black image makes it seem as if the projector has turned itself off. And yes, there is a clear increase in on/off contrast over the HC5500. Since improved black levels are only really appreciable in a light-controlled room, those with a mild to moderate amount of ambient light in their theater might not notice as dramatic of an improvement as those in a dark room.
Color. Out of the box, the HC7000 produced color which was well saturated and showed no obvious push or bias. After some minor adjustments, color improved even further. All in all, the HC7000 produced a vibrant, accurate, life-like picture. For those who have color calibration equipment and like to fiddle with color until it is perfect, the HC7000 makes this very easy to do. However, those who prefer to take the projector out of the box and start watching immediately will also be rewarded with a great looking picture.
Lumen output. The HC7000 is rated for a maximum of 1,000 ANSI lumens, and our test sample measured 670 lumens in its brightest mode. This mode, which uses the "High Brightness" color temperature setting, is best left to use with HD sports broadcasts in rooms with moderate ambient light, since color accuracy takes a significant hit. The HC7000 is not at its best with this type of viewing, but it can serve in this capacity on occasion.
When optimized for video, lumen output drops to 407 in high lamp mode with the lens at its widest angle setting. This is actually less video-optimized light output than the HC5500, which measured 610 ANSI lumens. However, the HC7000 has the better picture due to the improvements made in color and contrast.
If you're using low lamp mode, either because 407 lumens is too bright or you're trying to squeeze more life out of your lamp, lumen output drops 22%, to 318 lumens. In addition, if you're using the telephoto end of the HC7000's zoom lens, lumen output will drop another 27%. Realistically, we would recommend that you try to avoid the maximum telephoto end of the zoom lens for this reason. The HC7000 was clearly built with dark room home theater in mind, and it performs beautifully in such a situation, so do your best to darken the room's interior and to ensure strict light control in your theater. If your viewing environment has a significant degree of ambient light, there are other projectors better equipped for your situation.
Maximum light output is achieved using the widest angle setting of the lens, which is the shortest throw distance for any given screen size. Thus, many people will want to consider a ceiling mount for the HC7000. To illustrate, on a 120" diagonal screen, which is 105" wide, a 1.5x viewing distance would put the viewer 13 feet from the screen. At maximum wide angle zoom, the HC7000's throw distance for a 120" diagonal screen is 12.25 feet. So your options are to A, ceiling mount, or B, sit closer to the screen than you might otherwise want to sit. Thankfully, due to the 2.5 picture height lens shift, it is relatively easy to ceiling mount the HC7000 in precisely the right spot.
Placement flexibility. The HC7000, in addition to a powered zoom/focus lens, has powered vertical and horizontal lens shift. The zoom range is 1.6:1, which gives it an advantage over most 1080p DLP projectors, which typically use 1.2:1 zoom lenses. Vertical lens shift range is 2.5 picture heights, while horizontal range is 10% of the picture's width. To put this in perspective, this makes the HC7000 easier to install than the popular 1080p DLP models that don't have lens shift, but slightly more restricted in installation options than some popular 1080p LCD projectors.
Dual Mode Anamorphic Stretch. First introduced on the HC5500, Mitsubishi's Dual Mode Anamorphic Stretch allows the viewer to install an anamorphic lens permanently in front of the projector, rather than on a moving track. When showing 16:9 films and video, the projector compresses the signal horizontally such that it passes through the lens and is stretched back to the proper 16:9. Since motorized tracks for anamorphic lenses typically cost quite a bit, this is a helpful feature that can save you money.
Long lamp life. The HC7000 has a lamp rated for 2,000 hours in Normal mode and 5,000 hours in Eco mode. Replacement lamps appear to be selling for roughly $330, which means that the HC7000 costs a paltry $0.07 per hour to operate.
Whisper-silent operation. Since the release of the HC5000, Mitsubishi's first 1080p projector, their 1080p line has been known for quiet operation. Somehow, they have managed to get the HC7000 even quieter than their previous models, so sometimes it is hard to tell if the HC7000 is even turned on.
Low heat output. Fan noise and heat exhaust tend to go hand in hand. A projector with a high-wattage lamp gets much hotter than one with a low-wattage lamp, requiring a more powerful air circulation system and resulting in louder, hotter exhaust. The HC7000 has a 160W lamp, which allows it to use a whisper quiet fan as mentioned above and keeping heat exhaust to a bare minimum. In my theater, perfect light control requires shutting the door, and after a two-hour movie it is not uncommon for the air temperature to rise five to ten degrees. Using the HC7000, the room is kept relatively cool and comfortable.
Not as versatile as some competing units. The HC7000 is a videophile's projector, meant for a darkened room. It has better zoom and lens shift than its DLP competitors. However, there are many 1080p LCD projectors out right now with 2.0:1 zoom, a greater lens shift range in both the horizontal and vertical, and higher lumen output. This allows them to be placed in rooms with more ambient light, or in more unconventional mounting situations.
Cost. At $3,995 official street price (minimum advertised price), the cost of the HC7000 might be more than the average do-it-yourselfer would want to pay. The HC7000 is a premium product being sold through specialty retailers and custom home theater designers/installers. The advantage to buying through such suppliers is that if your projector needs service, you have a local business you can contact for help. And if you require installation assistance, many specialty resellers are equipped to install the projector as well as other home theater components for you.
No Frame Interpolation. Several 1080p models coming to market this fall have frame interpolation capability on board. The HC7000 does not. We expect this to become a significant competitive issue in the months ahead.
Black case. Previous Mitsubishi 1080p projectors were released with the option of either a black or white case, while the HC7000 is offered only in black. While it may seem minor, the HC7000's sleek black case can actually be a detriment. Most folks have white ceilings, and the HC7000 sticks out against a white background fairly obviously. While this may not bother you, we receive a lot of e-mail saying that a large visible projector on the ceiling may not meet with spousal approval. We would have liked to see Mitsubishi's color options continue on this model.
Shootout versus Panasonic PT-AE3000U
Panasonic's AE3000 is another high contrast 1080p LCD projector coming to market shortly, and it just so happened that we had both models in the lab simultaneously.
Lumens. In its brightest mode, the AE3000 measures 1273 lumens, which gives it a big edge over the HC7000's maximum 670 lumens in rooms with ambient light. More lumen output is also preferable for larger screen sizes or content like video games, so the AE3000's extra brightness makes it a more versatile projector.
Contrast. The HC7000 has higher on/off contrast than the AE3000, so dark scenes will look darker and bright scenes will look brighter on the HC7000. However, the AE3000 has a bit higher ANSI contrast, at 446:1. Therefore, in any given scene, the AE3000 may appear to have slightly higher dynamic range than the HC7000. In essence, these two projectors are roughly equivalent in contrast performance.
Placement Flexibility. The AE3000 has a 2.0:1 powered zoom as well as a greater lens shift range than the HC7000, but unlike the HC7000 the lens shift is not powered. While lens shift is usually an "adjust once" item, there are times when adjusting it while in use could prove helpful, and it is easier to do this on the HC7000.
Additional Features. Panasonic's AE3000 has a number of features that are not found on most other projectors. These include a wave form monitor and split-screen viewing to aid in calibration, a lens memory function that will automatically sets the lens for either 2.35 or 16:9 display, and a frame interpolation capability that runs at 120 frames per second and can sharpen objects in motion. We will discuss these in full in our AE3000 review, which will be posted shortly.
Cinemascope 2.35 options.The HC7000 has the dual Anamorphic stretch modes that eliminates the need to move an anamorphic lens. However, the AE3000 does the same thing, though the aspect ratios are not labeled "Anamorphic" as they are on the HC7000. With either projector, mounting an anamorphic lens does not require a track system. In addition, if you want to set up a 2.35 format screen without an anamorphic lens, you can do that on both projectors by using the powered zoom lens adjustments to zoom back and forth when you change from 2.35 to 16:9 material. One nice advantage that the AE3000 has over the HC7000 is that it will automatically zoom the lens back and forth at the touch of a button, whereas these adjustments must be made manually on the HC7000.
Style. The HC7000 comes in sleek, glossy black casework that has more of a high-style consumer-oriented look and feel to it. The AE3000 is a more reserved, flat dark gray, rectangular box with an industrial look. Which of the two appeals to you is a matter of taste, but they will definitely look different in your theater space or living room.
Mitsubishi's HC7000 is, above all else, a serious theater projector. Designed with contrast and color performance as primary concerns, the projector is a perfect addition to a darkened, light-controlled home theater. While other projectors are more versatile and can be installed in rooms with more ambient light, the HC7000 has the high contrast and quiet operation that make it an excellent choice for traditional home theater.
The HC7000 and its little brother the HC6500 are the sharpest 1080p projectors we've seen this fall - when it comes to sharpness, they are in a class by themselves. In addition to its unique sharpness, the HC7000 also has very competitive contrast, color saturation, and color accuracy. It is also strong in image clarity and three dimensionality. For these reasons, it rates five stars for performance. It rated slightly less in features and value due to lack of frame interpolation, the lack of a high brightness mode, and street prices that are somewhat higher than the competition.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Mitsubishi HC7000 projector page.