Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
Mitsubishi has been building projectors as well as plasmas, big-screen TVs and other video products for many years now. They've got a lot of engineering and marketing depth in video systems and their products are always noteworthy. However, from time to time they come up with a product that makes you recall, say, Johnny Damon's grand slam that put the Red Sox into the World Series. That product is the XD450U.
Consider this: the XD450U is rated at a super bright 2600 ANSI lumens, and a high contrast of 2200:1. It has DVI input with HDCP. It has low fan noise. It has a sealed light engine with no air filters-which means no filters to change or clean every month or two. That combined with a 5000-hour lamp in eco-mode makes this just about the most maintenance-free projector ever built. Warranty? How about a three-year warranty, including a full one-year warranty on the lamp instead of the typical 90 days? But beyond all that XS450U has a DLP-based XGA resolution light engine that produces excellent video quality as well as superb data display. Put that all together for an estimated street price of just $2,995, and you have the closest thing to a grand slam that we see in the projector industry.
The XD450U features a 4:3 format native XGA (1024x768) resolution DLP chip, and a four-segment, 2x speed color wheel. The unit will display native 16:9 images in 1024x576 resolution, which is the same format as today's home theater projectors that use the Matterhorn chip.
Lens and throw distance. Manual zoom and focus with a 1.2x zoom range. A 100" diagonal 4:3 image is obtained from a throw distance of 11 to 13 feet, so the throw distance is about average for this class of product.
Lamp. 250W P-VIP lamp with 2000-hour life in normal operating mode and 5000-hour life in low-power mode.
Compatibility. DVI-D (HDCP), component and RGB HDTV 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p, 480i, and computer resolutions up to SXGA (1280x1024). NTSC, PAL, SECAM.
Connection panel. Located on the rear of the unit. Video connectors include one DVI (HDCP), two sets of RGB inputs (15-pin VGA) for both RGB and component video input, one S-video port; one composite video jack, one RS-232 control, one USB computer, and one VGA monitor output.
There are audio inputs and audio output for all video sources. So this unit can be set up with multiple video sources without the use of an AV receiver or other input switching device, in the event you don't care about multi-channel surround sound. Audio output can be fed into an external amplifier and speakers for conference room or presentation use if desired.
Note: There are no RCA component inputs on this unit, so analog component signals must be fed via a cable with 3 RCAs on one end and a VGA connector on the other, or with a standard component video cable and an RCA to VGA adapter. These accessories are easy to get from AV dealers, but they don't come standard with the product and must be ordered separately if needed.
Filter free. The large majority of digital projectors have air filters that require cleaning or changing on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, depending on how much dust there is in the environment. Failure to keep filters clean is a leading cause of shortened lamp life, and it can also cause dust contamination on the panels or chips that produces fuzzy spots on the screen. The XD450U does not have this issue. The light engine is sealed, so it has no filter, and thus no filter maintenance or dust contamination to worry about. This should be an attractive feature for those (like me) who cannot remember to keep those filters clean.
Warranty. Three years, with a standard one-year warranty on the lamp, which is a first in the industry. Most lamp warranties are only 90 days. Given the potential flakiness of high pressure lamps, this is a feature that can give the user some unique financial peace of mind.
The XD450U is a native 4:3 format projector. Weighing only 6.5 lbs, it is easily portable, and constitutes one of the best "cross-over" products yet produced. That means for people who need a combination of high light output for data presentation, and great video quality for home entertainment use, this unit is highly recommended.
It is also ideal for those who plan to have dedicated home theater use, but want the 4:3 format instead of the widescreen 16:9 that is common in home theater projectors. There are many good reasons why people might want to consider going this route. For more consideration of this issue, read A Key Decision: 16:9 or 4:3?. If after reading this article you decide that 4:3 is the best format for your home theater, then the XD450U should be on your short list of projectors to consider.
One of the advantages of the XD450U is the wide range of lumen output that it can produce. In data mode with standard lamp power and normal color temperature, it generates over 2000 ANSI lumens. Depending on screen size and room lighting conditions, this is plenty to handle a wide variety of presentation needs. If you find this is too much light, you can cut to low power mode, which reduces lumen output by 25%, along with reducing fan noise and increasing lamp life.
For home theater, 2000 actual lumens is usually too much unless you typically have some ambient light in the room-it will give you eye strain and headaches if viewed for too long in a dark room. But in video mode the lumen output is substantially reduced, and it can be cut down to as little as 500 lumens. Home theater users will prefer this set up because of the reduced fan noise and the extension of lamp life to 5000 hours.
Fan noise on this unit is low to moderate in standard lamp mode, and low in low power mode. It is not quite as quiet as some of the dedicated home theater units that have recently hit the market, but it is low in pitch and not distracting even when the projector is placed just a few feet from the viewer.
This unit is designed to be a multipurpose projector, balancing the needs of data presentation and video performance. As such it lacks a few features found on "home theater only" machines. There is no aspect ratio control button on the remote. You can easily switch between 4:3 and 16:9 formats, but you need to do it via several clicks into the menu. There is no lens shift capability either. So more care and precision needs to be taken in choosing mounting locations for both projector and screen for any permanent installation.
The XD450U has a 2x speed color wheel which can cause distracting color separation artifacts for some viewers. Most people are not sensitive to this, but some are, and for those who are the problem can be anywhere from a slight annoyance to a serious distraction. Thus the 2x speed wheel with four color segments, red/green/blue/white (clear), while necessary for high light output in data presentations, is not ideal for video.
Despite the 2x wheel, color saturation on the XD450U is remarkably good for a DLP projector. DLP projectors in general, even those with six-segment wheels, cannot match the color saturation that the new high contrast LCD projectors are capable of. But this one does an admirable job in producing a vibrant and engaging video image, and standing alone it is beautiful. Viewers would only be aware of the color saturation issue when viewing side by side with an LCD projector.
The only other flaw in the video image worth mentioning is that there is some dithering in the shadows on some scenes that is more apparent than you typically see on DLP projectors with faster wheels. Overall it is not a big problem, but it should be mentioned.
As those who read A Key Decision: 16:9 vs. 4:3? are aware, most older classic films such as Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Treasures of the Sierra Madre, The Wizard of Oz, Fantasia, and Citizen Kane, were all done in native 4:3. And for film history buffs who enjoy the classics, there is nothing like seeing them in full large screen 4:3, as they were originally shown in commercial theaters back then. Only a native 4:3 format projector is capable of delivering this experience. The native 16:9 projector will always place the image in smaller format in the center of your screen, with black bars on each side. The decision on format is therefore a matter of personal taste and preference. How you wish to set up your home theater is your decision, and there is no "right" way to do it.
For those who want to go the 4:3 route for dedicated home theater, the Mitsubishi XD450U is a substantial performer to consider. For those who wish to use their projector for both home theater and portable presentation, the XD450 is truly a stellar choice. The 5000-hour lamp in low power mode, the hands-off maintenance-free operation due to the sealed light engine, and the breakthrough one-year warranty on the lamp are all unique features that collectively amount to a superb value proposition.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Mitsubishi XD450U ColorView projector page.