Over the past few years, traditional TV companies such as Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp have done a brisk business in the home theater front-projector market. At the same time, Mitsubishi, a manufacturer best known for its rear projectors, has been building its own rep as a supplier of affordable, high-quality front pros. Its latest, the Mitsubishi HC4900 1080p LCD front projector, sells for a cool $3,000. At that price, the HC4900 is up against some stiff competition from a handful of other 1080p LCD contenders - as well as Optoma's DLP-based HD80. Let's see how the Mitsubishi stacks up.
The HC4900 isn't destined to win any industrial-design awards, but the rounded edges and angled front panel of its all-black case give it a pleasing, streamlined look. On the top surface is a set of control buttons for operating the projector's setup features, switching inputs, and navigating onscreen menus. Notable features include an Auto Iris control with three presets and a selection of Gamma modes, along with two custom adjustments that provide individual control over red, green, and blue gamma curves.
Mitsubishi outfitted the HC4900 with every type of connector you'll need for a typical home theater. Along with both HDMI and DVI jacks, the back panel boasts component-video, VGA, and RS-232C inputs, as well as a 12-volt trigger.
The remote offers a clean layout, full backlighting, and dedicated buttons for source selection and one-touch access to common picture adjustments. Pressing the Aspect button toggles through 4:3 and 16:9 options plus picture stretch and zoom modes, though only 16:9 is available for high-def signals. That's a limitation when watching "stretched" upconverted programs on channels like TNT HD. Such programs cry out to be squeezed back to a regular 4:3 aspect ratio, and the HC4900 won't let you do it.
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