My HC4900 arrived yesterday and I have some initial impressions. This is replacing a Sanyo Z3 I have had since May of 2005 that has almost 1700 hours on the original bulb. I am projecting onto a homemade 110" screen that is using white curtain blackout material. Components in the chain are an Onkyo 805, DirecTV HR-250 HD receiver, Xbox 360 with HD-DVD player, and a HTPC with the new ATI Radeon 3870HD video card (HDMI out) and an HD-DVD drive. The HC4900 is being fed via an HDMI cable out of the Onkyo 805.
The ceiling mount that I use for the Sanyo will not work with the Mitsubishi, so I will have to order a proper ceiling mount. But in the meantime, I used one of my B&W 604S3 shipping cartons to set the HC4900 right behind my theater seating and that is working very well. It is around 14 feet from the screen. I have the HC4900 set to low lamp mode using the standard factory settings-no tweaking has been done yet. My theater room is completely light controlled, so ambient light is not usually a factor.
Wow. I know that isn't a very 'technical' term to describe the picture quality of this projector, but that was the first thing out of my mouth upon seeing HD content on it for the first time. Very sharp images, very good color, nice brightness (lumen output)-just an overall excellent image. Now was it a night and day difference over my Sanyo Z3? No, it's not-however, the Z3 was one of the best 720p LCD projectors when it came out, and in my opinion can more than hold it's own with the current models. But the HC4900 is an upgrade in my setup, and the difference is between them can be detected. I would like to have a brand new bulb in the Z3 so that I could make a better comparison, but I still believe the HC4900 has a definite advantage. The amount of extra detail in the picture is very noticeable to me, and makes viewing more lifelike. The increased resolution does away with the screen door effect which the Z3 had (although I never noticed the SDE at my normal viewing distance) and takes away the pixelation I had when viewing web pages on the HTPC.
Now onto what everyone has been asking about-black levels and contrast. I can only compare it to the Z3 obviously, but I believe the Z3 was pretty good in this regard when it was released. The HC4900 is better, especially with shadow detail-that is one thing that was an almost night and day difference between it and the Z3. I put in a couple of games on the Xbox 360 and couldn't believe how much better I could see the details on games with dark scenes. After looking at pictures taken of other projectors online and their black levels, I can see where the HC4900 is not quite as good as the some of the other 1080p models out there. However, the black levels are still pretty good and really shouldn't be an issue with anyone that is interested in the HC4900.
Overall, this is a very good 1080p projector-but with the current $500 rebate this is a superb projector that probably can't be beat in its price range. After only a few hours of viewing, I am very impressed and happy with my purchase. If anyone has any questions, I will try my best to answer them.