Compare Projectors-Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. Optoma HD20 3

March 14, 2008 / By Jennifer Stringfellow
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Color accuracy - Skin Tones and Overall

Both the Mitsubishi HC3800 and the Optoma HD20 have really very good skin tones. I'll give the slightest advantage to the HC3800, but either projector, once calibrated will do a great job with skin tones, resulting in natural looking skin tones. Please note, however, we discuss both projectors in this report, and in their reviews, with Brilliant Color turned on, and off. While BC adds a lot of pop and wow, with most projectors, it has the effect of also making skin tones a little less natural. So, when I say natural looking, I'm really talking about when both are not using Brilliant Color.

HD20 on the left, HC3800 on the right:

As both are DLP projectors, they really do have a similar "look and feel". For both projectors I recommend you try our calibration settings. If, of course you have your own calibration gear, you'll do your own calibration, but if not, you should appreciate some modest improvements. I realize that those without calibration gear (yes, that would be almost all of you), aren't likely to spend $250 - $600 to calibrate a $999 or $1395 projector. It is with that in mind, that we decided years ago, to publish our settings, so many could try them out.

As I have said, they are rather similar, both being DLPs. There are distinct differences though. The H20 simply isn't as bright, it needs about a 30% boost in best mode, and over 20% in "brightest" to be about as bright as the HC3800 projector. Those extra lumens probably do more to differentiate the two projectors than any "look and feel" differences.

Below, the first four images are of the HC3800 projector, the last four, of the Optoma HD20:

Bottom Line - Image Quality

If it weren't for the significant black level differences, these two projectors would be very close overall. As it is, there aren't any huge differences in image quality until you get into those really darker scenes. Once you do, however, the difference can be rather dramatic. The Optoma HD20, without its ImageAI engaged, is no match for the HC3800 when it comes to black level performance. Engaging ImageAI, on the Optoma helps, but, the affects of ImageAI are often quite visible. I could never watch movies, for any significant period of time, on the HD20 with it engaged. And as far as I'm concerned, if it's not really watchable, it might as well not be there. Black levels give the HC3800 a big win in this comparison. There are other reasons for liking the HC3800 over the HD20, but that's the one that rationalizes the difference in price.

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