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Mitsubishi HC 6800
The Mitsubishi HC 6800 is a Full HD, LCD projector. Available since autumn 2009, it sells for around 2,100 GBP online.
Florian Friedrich, tested on December 17, 2009
Superb 24p picture.
Silicon Optix video processor.
Versatile zoom lens with 2D lens shift.
Blacks show a bluish tint.
Average in-picture contrast.
With its bright and sharp pictures, the HC 6800 is ideal for users that want a big picture and like to watch in daylight or only slightly darkened rooms. Simple operation and a versatile set of features add to the list of positives, but the blue-tinted blacks might turn away more-demanding home-cinema fans — you’ll find better blacks on the Mitsubishi HC 7000, for example.
Besides two HDMI interfaces, this Japanese model also offers a versatile VGA socket.
Mitsubishi claims that the newly developed D7 LCD panels transmit 20 percent more light. On top of this, the developers have done without an additional lens hood, since these simply guzzle too much light. But the adjustable iris remains, limiting the light output in dark pictures but providing deep blacks and minimising bothersome residual illumination — the latter problem can be extremely annoying when watching films at night. At the same time, a cunning contrast-enhancement feature stops the picture becoming too dark.
The HC 6800’s features and operation strongly resemble those of its pricier, older brother, the HC 7000: The new model also includes the tried-and-tested Reon VX chipset from Silicon Optix, which is supposed to provide professional-standard video processing. In this price class, the superb 2D lens shift isn’t to be taken for granted, especially since it’s motorised — as are the zoom and focus.
The remote control’s layout is clear, and the buttons glow for a short time when pressed.
The arrow buttons on the remote control allow the user to shift the projected image upward or downward by up to 75 percent of the image’s height; you can also shift it sideways by up to around five percent. This allows flexible positioning and installation, and the HD 6800’s generous 1.6x zoom region enables projector-positioning closer to, or further from, the screen. Our only slight criticism is that the motorised focus only varies in large steps, with abrupt changes in sharpness.
A flap conceals an additional set of controls for the projector’s main functions.
Praise goes to the remote control’s direct-access buttons for the main picture settings. You can also save the settings separately for each input, and some even for the specific video format. This is without doubt a great feature, but does mean you’ll have to change the factory overscan setting from 97 to 100 % multiple times if the Blu-ray player is outputting various resolutions — 1080/50p, 1080/60p, 1080/24p — via HDMI. The projector also stores the four-level masking setting, which tidies up the edges of TV pictures, separately for each input. On top of this, there are also three freely programmable memory banks — here, you can store gamma corrections in three contrast regions for each of the primary colours R, G, and B. What you don’t get are deep-reaching colour-management controls or the option to adjust the motion clarity.
In the “High Brightness” colour-temperature mode, the projector almost reaches the manufacturer’s quoted brightness of 1,300 lumens — we measured it at 1,260 ANSI lumens. But the colours look more natural in the darker “Medium” setting, in which the lamp’s output measures ‘only’ 762 lumens. If you switch the lamp mode to the quieter “Low” setting, the projector’s light output drops to 555 lumens, and the lamp’s lifetime claims to increase from 2,000 to 4,000 operating hours. In the “Low” mode, you can still illuminate a 2.3-metre-wide screen; the “Standard” lamp mode will illuminate a 2.75-metre screen more brightly than in the cinema.
The colours are extended toward green, but still look astonishingly natural.
Like most Mitsubishi projectors, the HC 6800 produces extremely balanced colours. The colour gamut overshoots the mark slightly for reds and particularly for greens, but thankfully the colours don’t end up looking too candy-like. In the “Low” lamp mode, the colours barely lose quality, and the colour temperature, at around 6,800 Kelvin, lies closer to the ideal value than it does in the “Standard” mode (7,000 Kelvin).
In the gamma settings “Auto” and “Cinema”, the colour temperature only varies slightly in bright pictures. But darker greyscales show a blue tint that gets stronger, the darker the greyscale — particularly in the darker “Cinema” mode (gamma 2.5 instead of 2.1). As a result, the projector’s blacks look bluish, and this effect is especially visible if the lamp is set to “Standard” and the iris is inactive.
Very high contrast values are something you won’t find on the HC 6800, which is tailored primarily to produce bright images — with an in-picture contrast of 1,000:1, it can’t even begin to compete with the HC 7000’s 4,100:1. This is why we recommend using the more colour-neutral “Auto” gamma mode and the iris’ “Auto 3” factory setting, in order to get the best picture quality. The iris then reduces the residual illumination by 80 percent, and the blue tint becomes almost invisible in the darker image. In the darkest iris setting (“Auto 1”), the HC 6800 produces even darker blacks and an On/Off contrast of around 6,000:1.
The dynamic iris can increase the On/Off contrast from 800:1 to up to 6,100:1. The resulting loss of brightness, however, means the in-picture contrast is limited to slightly below 1,000:1.
Picture Quality of Standard Signals
Thanks to a Silicon Optix video processor, the HC 6800 manages to derive the best possible picture quality from analogue video signals; TV material and films convert reliably into flicker-free, progressive pictures. Even via composite and S-Video, the sharpness and colour resolution turn out to be technically flawless, but obviously you’ll get the best results from YUV- and RGB-encoded sources. The projector accepts RGB via its VGA socket with the help of a Scart adapter (not supplied). HDMI video in 576i also benefits from the highly capable video processor.
If you leave the sharpness control set to the factory setting (“4”), you can see slight false-edge formation. If you turn it down to zero, however, all TV and DVD pictures look natural and precise. Sadly, you can’t fail to notice the bluish blacks, even under our test conditions (2.65-metre-wide projection screen). Here, activating the iris helps — in the darkest iris setting (“Auto 1”), the light output drops to a seventh of its original value, and the blue tint disappears.
But, on the down side, the iris then closes with a visible delay when a bright scene changes to a dark one. In the brighter iris levels “Auto 3” or “Auto 4”, on the other hand, you no longer see this delay. The cast in our chosen test disc “U-571” look well-differentiated, even in dark scenes, but also a touch too striking. This is because of the contrast-enhancement that accompanies the iris setting — the effect is strongest in level four and weakest in level one.
Picture Quality of HDTV Signals
Shame: The HC 6800 cannot display blacker-than-black picture contents via HDMI. This also makes it harder to set the brightness correctly, since you cannot use a pluge test pattern in the usual way (precise and simple adjustment using the blacker-than-black bar). In ultra-sharp test patterns, we observed slight reddish colouration on very fine patterns. This results from slight convergence errors in three-chip LCD projectors and reduces the perceived sharpness.
In Blu-ray films, however, we couldn’t see any irritating colour fringing (at a normal viewing distance), no matter how hard we tried. Furthermore, the Mitsubishi’s video technology works perfectly, producing no artefacts or other errors at all during de-interlacing. Even 1080i and 720p pictures from HDTV receivers display flawlessly — the pictures look very impressive indeed! The athletes’ skin tones look rosy and natural, and the green grass on a football pitch looks real enough to touch — we almost felt as if we were in the stadium. On the down side, fast movements tend to blur slightly — typically for conventional LCD technology.
In contrast to daylight sports events, dusky films such as “Kingdom of Heaven” look less impressive on the HC 6800. With the iris activated, dark sequences display beautifully sharp edges, but don’t look as cinematic or elegant as on some competing models. If you deactivate the iris, blacks lose their depth, and the soft colours of the crusaders’ faces become fainter. So, all in all, our test candidate can’t match the vivid presentation of the HC 7000, but offers almost twice the brightness — and that’s more than just a consolation prize!
Gamma Mode: Auto
Colour Temp.: Medium
Auto Iris: Auto 3
Lamp Mode: Standard
Over Scan: 100%
* These settings apply to realistic playback of HDTV/Blu-ray material through the HDMI interface in a darkened environment. Manufacturing and HDMI playback device deviations might necessitate slight adjustment.