If you?re looking for the ultimate in screen size but don?t want your wallet to go into cardiac arrest, front projection offers outstanding bang for buck. The HC900 is Mitsubishi?s latest front projector designed for the home theatre, and is targeted at the budget to mid-range market.
Being a DLP (Digital Light Processor) projector means that it?s best to have a demonstration of the projector before your purchasing decision has been set in stone. This is because a small number of viewers are prone to a visual problem called the Rainbow Effect when watching a DLP unit. This occurs when the viewer?s eyes are sensitive enough to detect the three different colours that make up the image. Not only is it ugly, it can actually cause physical discomfit over extended periods of time. Thankfully most people don?t suffer from this problem, but it?s always wise to test a DLP-based projector for at least 20 minutes before making your choice.
However, while there are concerns about the Rainbow Effect, DLP has a major strength over projectors that use LCD-based technology. When it comes to contrast ratios, DLP just can?t be beat, and the HC900 has this in spades. With a contrast ratio of a whopping 4,000:1, the HC900 sets new records at this price point. This means that when it comes to detail in dark areas, which is a problem for many projectors around $4,000, the HC900 is a champion performer. Colours are likewise rich and vibrant. Unfortunately a native resolution of only 1,024 x 576 means that images will look a bit more coarse than similarly priced projectors capable of 1,280 x 720 resolution.
The HC900 contains more than enough input options to satisfy the average home theatre, with S-Video, Component, Composite, VGA and DVI. There?s no sign of a HDMI input, but it?s not much of an issue considering this is still quite uncommon on all but the most recent devices.
It?s not the brightest projector on the planet, but in a light controlled situation it is perfectly adequate. However, bearing in mind the relatively average brightness level, the fan is annoyingly loud. As any projector owner will attest, a near silent fan is very important, and in this regard the HC900 would benefit greatly from a custom built ?hush box? (a small noise cancelling enclosure) to keep the noise in.
It?s also lacking lens shift, an important feature for those who want flexibility in the positioning of their projector. When placed on a shelf mounted approximately two thirds of the way up a wall, in the same position as our Z3 LCD projector, we had to prop up the rear legs with a couple of books to get the image to project on to the opposite wall. And the fact that it?s not a short throw projector means you?ll need quite a wide room to project a large image.
While the beautiful colour replication and phenomenal contrast ratio are very impressive, several limiting factors make it hard to put the HC900 ahead of other projectors at the same price.