Projectors

Affordable Projectors for Non-Dedicated Home Theater Rooms - Mitsubishi HC5500 & Elite Cinema Screen

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Mitsubishi HC5500

Introduction

I am continuing my journey into the world of affordable front projector systems, with a special emphasis on systems that are suitable for multi-use rooms. My first foray, the Sanyo PLV-Z2000, was a success. But I didn’t have anything to compare it to, at least in my own home environment. Now comes the first challenger, the Mitsubishi HC5500, another affordable 1080p projector. These projectors use the same basic display technology (LCD panels), so provide a pretty good apples-to-apples comparison.

Since the goal of the series is a relatively painless and economical way to set up a front projector system in a non-dedicated room, this installment also includes a look at the other end of the picture, the screen. While I’ve seen motorized, curved and acoustically perforated screens at trade shows and in dedicated home theaters, they are quite expensive. The average person buying an entry-level projector is unlikely to spend as much on the screen as they did on the projector. Plus, a permanently installed screen taking up an entire wall of a non-dedicated room is unlikely to pass the Spousal Approval test.

To address those needs, there is an entire market segment of drop-down screens, both ceiling and wall-mounted. My family room has cathedral ceilings, so a ceiling mounted screen isn’t an option. And because my current main display is a rear-projection TV, a wall-mounted screen won’t work either, unless I build a soffet to extend out beyond the front of my RPTV (RPTV’s, using DLP or LCOS technology, are typically around 14 inches deep). So I decided to keep it simple, and started with a pull-up portable screen, the Elite ezCinema Plus.

The Projector: Mitsubishi HC5500

The HC5500, which replaces Mitsubishi’s HC 4900 projector, lists for $4,995 but street pricing is around $2,495 (NOTE: Mitsubishi also offers a $500 mail-in rebate through December 31, 2008). The 5500 uses three LCD inorganic panels, with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The 5500 has both motorized zoom and focus controls, quite useful if the projector is mounted in a location that is not readily accessible. The other side of the coin is that the HC 5500 has extremely limited placement options. The zoom range is only 1.2x, and vertical lens shift is limited to 2.0 screen heights. There is no horizontal lens shift. So you need to carefully calculate your room and screen size to determine the proper placement of the projector.

Specifications

  • Design: LCD Projector
  • Native Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Brightness: 1200 ANSI Lumens
  • Contrast Ratio: 14,000:1 (Full On/Off)
  • Dimensions: 4.9" H x 13.1" W x 13.9" D
  • Weight: 12.3 Pounds
  • MSRP: $1,995 (after $500 mail-in rebate)
  • Available from Projector People at Discount Price
  • Mitsubishi