A few days ago I got the new Mitsubishi X80U, the fifth front projector I have had a chance to try out in my home. (Its predecessors were the Sony 400Q (LCD), the Sony D50 (CRT), the Infocus LP 350 (DLP), and the NEC VT540 (LCD). A few comments on the Mits:
The PLUS side:
1. 1500 lumens bright (rating seems pretty close--MUCH brighter than the LP 350, optimistically rated at 1300). I can watch a movie with a table lamp on. Makes the D50 CRT, in total darkness, look like it's being powered by three birthday candles.
2. This XGA projector takes 480p and is very sharp and filmlike, no edgy video look. The NEC VT540--using S-video input--was a real loser in this regard (NEC told me that the PS picture on the VT540 was not much different).
3. Wonderful color. The Mits sRGB setting creates a varied palette of colors like I've never seen on a digital projector; this was Mitsubishi's claim, and it looks like they've lived up to it. But you have to get used to REALISTIC color; colors don't POP out, they're just true. Pastels look dead-on.
4. For me, a pleasantly subtle screen door effect, and I have 20/15 vision and am sensitive to screen door (another deal breaker on the VT540). I was able to watch a 9-foot wide picture from 14 feet and the pixels were still very tight, with no harsh grid effect. I stopped noticing them unless I was consciously trying to see them.
5. Reasonable bulb cost. $350 bulbs last for 2,000 hours.
6. Super Mits 3-year warranty.
The MINUS side:
1. 1500 lumens! Combine this with a contrast ratio of only 300:1, and really bright scenes tend to get washed out and lose detail. It took me forever to tweak Three Kings (bright desert setting) so that details were not lost in an ocean of glare.
2. An occasional tendency, in pans, for the lower part of the image to drag behind the upper part for a split second. This happens only occasionally, but everyone would notice it. This may be a problem Mits will address with feedback, or it may have to do with my progressive scan hookup (although the problem never occurs on my progressive RPTV with the same player).
But the Mits is going back, due to the sudden NEC-ophilia which seized me last night when forum member Randy Morton kindly invited me over to his home to see his NEC LT 150 and Da-Lite HiPower screen. Pardon me for a minute while I turn N/NE and bow down in homage to Grant Smyth, whose praise of this combination contains no hyperbole. If the Mits X80U were the only consumer front projector available, and still at its reasonable $3800 street price, everyone on the forum would want one. It is VERY satisfying to watch in the majority of films. But the LT 150 is simply amazing. It took maybe ten seconds of the first DVD to confirm this. I didn't see rainbows or sparklies (I never saw them on the LP 350 either), but what I did see was the finest picture I have ever seen in my home or in a showroom, on any kind of television larger than a 19" computer monitor. What about the $17,000 Runco, the $10,000 Marantz? Hahahahahaha. (There are no D-ILA's in Memphis.) Not only does the 800:1 contrast ratio provide a snap that low-contrast projectors just can't rival, but the colors were rich and deep. The color on the Mits may be more subtle, but the NEC is truly fine. We watched a few minutes of Three Kings--superb detail, snappy contrast, no washed out whites. We then looked at segments of North by Northwest (a reference-quality transfer) and Shakespeare in Love, and the images were flat-out splendid. The black level does not quite equal my Toshiba RPTV, but it is quite similar to what one sees in a theater.
It is hard to believe that this TINY projector, whose butt, pound for pound, any fair-sized ashtray could kick, can emit such visual splendor. As Grant and others have said, bulb cost might SEEM to kill the deal, at 50 cents an hour. But when you have SEEN this projector, you start throwing quarters in a jar.
Back goes the Mits, here comes the NEC, and the Da-Lite soon to follow.
Thanks Randy, Grant, and other forum members for introducing me to this pocket-sized phenomenon.