The Mitsubishi Electric HC1100 is a DLP home theatre projector with a native resolution of 1280x720. It's capable of projecting images in standard and high definition modes to a maximum resolution of 1080i. We performed a battery of tests on each mode, and received pleasing results. For a DLP projector, it delivered excellent image quality across standard and high definition modes with no visual aberrations. Our only trouble came when connecting the unit to a PC, but even then, the problems we found will not have any real-world impact on the overall performance of the unit.
High definition (720p/1080i)
Since the native resolution of the projector is 1280x720, it's ideal for 720p high definition content. As such, our first port of call when testing was to check how well it handled HD sources. The unit can also scale to 1080i, so we performed a series of gaming and movie tests at each resolution to push the projector and find its limits.
For the gaming tests, we connected the Xbox 360 via a Component connection at a resolution of 720p. Using the games Tony Hawk's Project 8 and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, we were very impressed with the image quality. The level of detail was excellent with uniform colour and brightness and no pixelation. The colour reproduction was superb with deep black levels and no contrast stepping. Popping a mad 'boneless' off the coping in Tony Hawk, we watched for any ghosting or excessive motion problems, but found none. Similarly, as mortar fire rained down and shrapnel flew past our heads in Ghost Recon 2, we looked for rainbow effect and were pleased by its absence.
Watching the Empire State Building finale from King Kong on HD-DVD, we also noted the lack of rainbow effect. Rainbow effect is a side-effect of DLP technology where flashes of rainbow colours can be seen periodically in the image. The colour wheel in this projector is only 4-speed, but it has been implemented well, as the rainbow effect has been greatly reduced. The HD-DVD test was also run in 1080i mode and once again, the image was delivered without a fault.
If you want to display high definition content on your wall at home, this projector will definitely do the job brilliantly.
Standard definition (576i/p)
To test standard definition DVD content, we viewed the lobby scene from The Matrix and the technical tests from Digital Video Essentials (DVE).
The up-scaling of standard definition content was handled well, with very few interpolation artefacts and no noticeable pixelation. The contrast and colour reproduction was on par with the high definition performance and the motion was handled without any problems. We were quite impressed, once again, with how well the DVD performance was displayed. The DVE tests showed a little noise in low grey during the greyscale tests but it wasn't noticeable from comfortable viewing distance. There was no discolouration and a good blend along the grey scale.
We tested the PC connection by connecting via the analogue D-Sub port at a desktop resolution of 1280x720. We ran DisplayMate Video Edition to perform a series of extensive tests on the unit. It handled almost all the tests flawlessly, with only one exception. During all vertical resolution tests we experienced a severe signal error which resulted in vertical jagged lines of interference on the image. At first, we thought this was a real problem so we checked how this would affect everyday use of the machine. We ran PC gaming tests and found no evidence of the resolution issue. We also ran office productivity applications such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel to check if the interference would translate to those, but it didn't. It seems as though this problem is specific to our tests, which consist of fine vertical lines and moire test patterns.
The desktop looked great and text and icons were clear with no over-sharpening or discolouration. While we weren't as blown away by the PC performance as we were with the video quality, the PC mode is quite a welcomed feature of the unit and will keep media centre PC users tickled pink.
In any projection environment, a factor that needs to be considered is the amount of room a projector needs to produce an image of a desired size. The HC1100 is able to produce an image size of 1.01-6.99m (40-275in) from a distance of 1.3-10m. Assuming the user is looking for a large screen size, this makes it suitable for a medium-to-large area, but may preclude it from being used in a small living room.
Heat and noise
The HC1100 has front-mounted vents which pump out a fair amount of heat. However, it's on par with many other projectors of this size. The fans are fairly quiet, although they're not whisper-quiet. They can still be heard faintly and may be noticeable during very quiet moments of a film. If you were to ceiling mount the unit, this would most likely counteract any heat or noise issues you may encounter.
Design and features
The design of the HC1100 isn't remarkable. It doesn't have any funky design features that set it apart from the crowd, nor does it have a stylish chassis to fuel the desire for impulse purchasing. It relies solely on its performance to win hearts. We were a little perturbed by the feet on the device. Unlike most projectors, the height adjustments are mounted at the rear. While the projector does throw an image upward, the feet seem designed for those wishing to use the unit in a bookcase or similar shelving configuration. Those wanting to use it on a coffee table might find the upward projection of the image difficult position correctly. It would have been a better idea to put height adjustments on the front and back of the unit.
The connectivity options are good, with one HDMI, Component, Composite, S-Video and a D-Sub port for connection to a PC. While it's possible to connect a PC via the HDMI port, we would have liked to see a dedicated DVI port as well.
The Mitsubishi Electric HC1100 will suit most users looking for a basic projector with excellent performance. It looked good across all its modes, without falling victim to the problems of DLP technology.