Other bits and bobs include high and low lamp output settings (we’d recommend low for films if you’re in a properly blacked out environment), and an unusually flexible overscan adjustment that actually came in handy a couple of times for removing unwanted picture ‘sludge’ down the side of one or two of Sky’s 4:3 broadcasts.
In some ways we’ve slightly got ahead of ourselves here, for we’re talking about fine-tuning images before we’ve even got them up on our screen. But rest assured that the HC5500 is also very friendly with its more basic set up functions, providing motorised vertical image shifting, keystone correction and motorised focus.
The only potential installation issue is that the HC5500 has been designed with relatively small living rooms in mind and doesn’t carry a particularly great amount of optical zoom. So if you’ve got a screen of 100in or so and are looking at a throw distance in excess of 4m, you may struggle to get the HC5500 to produce an image that will fit on your screen. If you want to get into this in more detail, install and check out Mitsubishi’s projector calculator.
It doesn’t take long in the company of the HC5500’s pictures to realise that they’re very good for such an affordable machine. For instance, they’re really dynamic, with good brightness levels during bright scenes – even using the Low lamp mode – and the sort of black level depths during dark scenes that would have been unthinkable from LCD technology 12 months ago.
These black levels are presented with good stability, too, considering they’re dependent on an automatic iris, showing that the iris is reacting with a good combination of speed and sensitivity.
HD images also look very clean, with no sign of such common budget woes as grain, overt dot crawl, over-stressed edges or shimmering over extremely fine details. And happily, standard definition pictures hold up surprisingly well for such an affordable machine, as the HQV processors do their upscaling work while throwing up far fewer image artefacts than we commonly see with Full HD projectors. The noise reduction routines are also very astute at cutting out those classic Freeview/DVD nasties of MPEG blocking and mosquito noise.
Motion looks good too. There’s no major blurring, and only marginal judder, even with 1080/24p Blu-ray sources. Plus there’s none of the fizzing noise over moving skin tones you sometimes get with budget DLP projectors (though not the InFocus IN80 we keep mentioning).
Motion can also reveal LCD’s dreaded screen door effect (where the grid-like structure of the LCD panels becomes visible in the picture), but here again the HC5500 enjoys a largely clean bill of health, with neither moving edges nor really bright images – such as the shots of the tank testing facility in ”Batman Begins” – showing distracting signs of the screen door effect. Even though we were watching on a relatively large 120in screen.