Mitsubishi HC3800 review

Kat Orphanides
6 Feb 2010
Mistubishi HC3800
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

With beautiful colour and a virtually non-existent rainbow effect, the HC3800 has the best picture quality we've ever seen from a DLP projector and even outshines many LCD models.



1,920x1,080 resolution, 1,300 ANSI lumens, 129x345x270mm, 3.5kg

Mitsubishi's HC3800 is a 1080p DLP compact home cinema projector, so it's easily placed in any room without taking up much space. Its lamp brightness is a little lower than most similarly priced projectors, but this isn't a problem for watching movies in a darkened room.

It's a little short on inputs, with only a single HDMI input, in addition to the usual composite, component, VGA and S-Video. This is a disadvantage if you want to be able to connect both a set-top box and a games console via HDMI, for example.

The projector's lens position is higher than those of many compact projectors, which can cause alignment issues over short throw distances on to a fixed height screen. A pair of adjustable front feet makes height adjustments easier.

The projector runs quietly, although a slight high-pitched whine is audible at close distances. The fan noise was more noticeable when we switched from the default Low brightness setting to Standard, but it's worth it for the dramatic improvement in visibility under lighting.

As soon as we switched it on, we were blown away by the HC3800's stunning colour, which is among the richest and most natural we've seen. Skin tones were perfect. Areas of fine detail, subtle shading and gentle gradation were beautifully reproduced, while the dark tones and glowing colours of our high-contrast test looked stunning. We could see no rainbow effect on high contrast video sequences, while black tones were deep and realistic. Even black and white video footage barely suffered from the rainbow effect.

The projector has one of the simplest remote controls we've seen. You can use it to switch input source, adjust the colour and sharpness of the image or recall a previously programmed image setting profile. This makes the remote easy to use, although it doesn't work too well unless you point it directly at the projector.

The menu system contains a wide range of more advanced options in several categories. Navigating the menus, which appear as pull-downs at the upper left of the screen, takes a bit of getting used to, but everything you need is easy to find. The Image menu allows you to adjust settings like gamma, brightness, contrast and colour temperature. An Advanced sub-menu lets you switch to Cinema mode (it has a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, but requires an anamorphic lens, which isn't worth the bother), perform fine colour adjustment, and apply image correction settings.

All these settings can be saved as a custom profile. Other menus contain options to correct keystone correction, display test patterns, move the menus to a different position and select your colour input type.

The HC3800 produces the most perfect colour we've seen from a compact DLP projector, without most of the problems associated with the technology. Its menu system is quirky but effective. It's at its best in a dark environment but is just bright enough to use under living-room lighting. It's the most expensive of the compact DLP projectors here, but astonishing image quality means that it's a great choice. However, Epson's LCD EH-TW2900 has similar image quality, no rainbow effect and lens shift. We think it's a better buy.




Projector technologyDLP
Lamp brightness1,300 ANSI lumens
Lamp life2,000
Lamp life in economy mode5,000
Contrast ratio3,300:1 (650:1 ANSI)


Native resolution1,920x1,080
Max compressed resolution1,920x1,080
Aspect ratio16:9
Other aspect ratios4:3, 2.35:1 (with optional anamorphic lens)
Max diagonal at 7ft70in
Throw ratio1.52:1 to 2.26:1
Optical zoom1.5x
Projection distance2.3m to 7.7m
Mirror imageyes
Invert imageyes
Lens shift horizontalN/A
Lens shift verticalN/A
HD Readyyes
Special view modesSports, video, cinema


VGA inputyes
DVI inputNo
Sound inputsnone
Composite inputyes
S-video inputyes
HDMI inputyes
PAL supportyes
SECAM supportyes
NTSC supportyes
Audio outputnone
Video outputnone
Others inputs/outputsserial DIN, trigger


Noise (in normal use)25dB(A)
Internal speakersnone
Extrasremote, cables (power, VGA)
Remote special featuresnone
Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption on283W


Lamp cost (inc VAT)£266
Lamp cost per hour of use£0.13
Lamp cost per hour of use (economy)£0.05

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