Handling: quiet, but not much lens-shift to either side
There haven't been many changes between the way you use the HC6500 and the HC8600. The same strengths as before are there: motorised lens-shift, zoom and focus, quiet running (just 24.5 dB), a full-sized backlit remote and a wide range of connectivity. It does require just a little bit more energy than its predecessor, climbing to 186 W while in use.
Image Quality: a few punishing mistakes
As ever, we're going to be strict here. Our criticisms of the image quality produced by video projectors are deliberately harsh to give you enough detail to tell the different products apart. That means that you shouldn't think the HC6800 produces a dreadful image because of its three-star rating in this section.
In fact, that's far from being the case: it's just that other projectors manage to do better, so this one comes off badly from a comparison. We tested it alongside the Panasonic PTAE-4000E, which produces a much more neutral image. Mitsubishi's projections, by contrast, have a wider dynamic range, are brighter and have a slight tendency to be dominated by purple.
We measured black levels of 1.49 cd/m² with whites at 453 cd/m², which gives a contrast ratio of 304:1. We've seen much better, from both LCD and DLP projectors. Although it's a slight improvement on the HC6500, it still doesn't represent excellent progress.
The amount of electronic noise in video was kept in check when we watched DVDs (576p). To ensure you get the same result, you need to play with the TRNR option in the advanced menu, and set it to around 7. This option isn't available for 720p or 1080p HD video, or files played from a computer.
Bright areas are difficult for this projector, just like they were on the HC6500. Once the iris is activated, the lightest areas are overexposed and detail is burned out. The only way around this is to turn the iris off, but that's not an ideal solution as it reduces the depth of blacks.
The projector is pretty good at upscaling sources to 1080p by itself. It's still not as good as the job done by the PS3 that we use to test video sources. If you can, make sure you use a good quality player to upscale your DVDs, which will produce a better quality, more accurate 1080p image. The problem is the misaligned LCD matrices that we discuss below.
Misaligned LCD matrices: a great illustration of this problem is available in our Product Face-Off, where you can see what a 1080p source looks like. What's going on here? You get green and purple lines about a pixel wide above and below white areas. They're more or less invisible from 1.5 metres away, but trained viewers will still be able to spot them.
100 Hz and 3D modes: neither of these is available. With 3D just around the corner, you might be left wondering whether it's really worth investing in a projector that doesn't open the way to what could be this year's technological revolution. It's a reasonable question, even if some people still complain that 3D produces undesirable effects. As for 100 Hz mode, it's a real shame to not see it here, and once again doesn't help the HC6800 stand up to comparisons with the PT-AE48000E, where the improved fluidity really improves its performance.
- Motorised lens-shift, zoom and focus
- Quiet (24.5 dB)
- Backlit remote control
- Noise well-handled in 576p video
- White areas overexposed
- High energy consumption on standby
- Only minimal lens-shift to each side
- Blacks not very deep
- No 100 Hz or 3D
The solid hardware of this projector, which is somewhat spoilt by an energy consumption of 6.7 W on standby, struggles to compensate for the problems with image quality, including over-exposure, misaligned LCD matrices and a lack of 100 Hz and 3D modes.