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



Design and Setup

The HC 5500 is compatible for use with an anamorphic lens, which uses the full panels for projecting 2.35 film material. Anamorphic lens are expensive, and also require a room capable of projecting the extra-wide image. The Mitsubishi’s scaler allows the user to keep the anamorphic lens in place, even when not watching 2.35 material. I don’t know how many consumers will choose to mate an entry-level projector with an anamorphic lens, but the HC 5500 is a way to test the waters without breaking the bank.

Mitsubishi HC5500

The Mitsubishi comes in bat-cave black, which tends to blend in better in a dedicated theater than multi-use rooms with white ceilings. The HC 5500 has two HDMI inputs (v. 1.3), plus one VGA, component, S-video and composite inputs, all on the rear panel. The top panel has menu controls mirroring the function of the remote control. The back-lit remote allows the user to switch between three memorized pre-sets, and adjust zoom and focus in both fast and single-step increments.

Mitsubishi HC5500

The Mitsubishi uses the Silicon Optics Reon-VX HQV processing chip for upconverting and deinterlacing non-1080p content. The HC 5500 can also display 1080p/24 frames-per-second. The HC 5500 has four pre-set gamma modes: Auto, Sports (bright mode for watching sports in ambient light), Video, and Cinema (for dark rooms). There are also two user-adjustable gamma curve settings. Beside the three usual brightness modes (Cool, Medium and Warm), you can manually adjust the R, G and B contrast and brightness settings within each pre-set. It also has an auto-iris, which dynamically increases light output for maximum black level. For most of my viewing, I used the Medium setting, which is supposed to approximate the reference 6500K color temperature. The HC 5500 allows the user to set and store three separate image quality settings for each input source, which can be called up from the remote control.

Mitsubishi HC5500

Placement of the HC5500 was a little tricky. I am using an 84” diagonal screen (73” horizontal), because anything wider would cover my left and right main speakers. Due to the Mitsubishi’s limited zoom ratio, I could not place the projector on a coffee table in front of the couch. Instead, I mounted the projector on a portable table behind the main seating position, which still only put it about 10.5 feet from the screen. While that was fine for wide-screen movies, I found it a little fatiguing while watching 16:9 HDTV images for extended periods. On the plus side, the Mitsubishi is very quiet, so fan noise was not an issue.