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In terms of price, the HC6800 lands in somewhat of grey area. Its MSRP is $3,495, which technically puts it in the mid-level class of 1080p projectors. However, its actual street price is much lower, under $2,500--which is closer to the entry-level 1080p category.
The HC6800 has a more attractive design than many of the boxy projectors on the market today, with a curvaceous cabinet and a glossy brushed-charcoal finish. The top-panel buttons--which includes buttons for power, menu, zoom/focus, lens shift, and navigation--are hidden beneath a flip-up panel. The connection panel includes all of the desirable inputs: two HDMI 1.3, one VGA, one component video, one S-video, and one composite video, as well as RS-232 and a 12-volt trigger port. The supplied remote control sports dedicated input buttons, as well as direct access to many common picture adjustments. The remote is also fully backlit; however, it lacks a button to turn on the backlighting. You must press any button to illuminate the remote, which kind of defeats the purpose of backlighting when you're searching for a certain button in the dark.
Mitsubishi has included a nice assortment of setup tools to make it as easy as possible to size and focus the image, but the specs aren't quite as thorough as the options on my reference Epson model. The HC6800 has generous vertical lens shift (+/-75 percent) to accommodate various ceiling/tabletop placements and screen heights; however, its horizontal lens shift is only +/-5 percent, so it has little flexibility to handle off-center projector placement. In my theater room, my projector sits atop a vertical equipment rack, which is located slightly off-center in the back of my room, 12.5 feet from the screen. The HC6800's horizontal lens shift was not substantial enough for me to center the image on my screen. Likewise, while the HC6800's 1.6x zoom is better than you'll find on a number of projectors, it didn't provide enough zoom to size the image down to my smaller 75-inch-diagonal screen. I had to physically move my equipment rack about a foot over and forward to perfectly position the image on the screen. On the plus side, the Mitsubishi's zoom, focus, and lens-shift controls are all motorized as opposed to manual, adjustable via the remote or the projector's top-panel buttons. Other setup features include two manually adjustable feet, keystone correction, an image-reverse function for a rear-projection setup, and an onscreen crosshatch pattern to aid with sizing and focus.
In terms of picture adjustments, the HC6800 has most of the important controls. Instead of preset picture modes, you get four preset gamma modes (auto, sports, video, and cinema), as well as an excellent advanced gamma menu in which you can individually adjust the level of red, green, and blue in low, mid, and high signals. The menu also includes four color-temperature settings (high brightness, cool, medium, and warm), with advanced white-balance controls to fine-tune the color temperature. I went with the cinema gamma mode and warm color temperature for a completely dark room; I also experimented with the high-brightness color temperature for a room with ambient light. The HC6800 lacks an advanced color-management system to precisely adjust all six color points, but I would soon discover that the feature isn't really necessary. In terms of image brightness, the projector has an iris that automatically adjusts light output to suit the onscreen content, and the setup menu includes the ability to turn the auto iris on or off and dictate its speed (from 1 to 5, with 3 as the default). There are also two lamp-mode settings: low and standard. Noise reduction is available for standard-definition sources only. With the HC6800, you can't set different image parameters for different resolutions within a specific input; however, you do get three AV memory settings for each input, so you can set up and store different parameters as desired.
Aspect-ratio options include auto, 16:9, 4:3, zoom 1, zoom 2, and stretch, as well as two anamorphic modes designed for use with a 2.35:1 screen and an optional anamorphic lens. Anamorphic lenses allow you to view CinemaScope/2.35:1 movies with no black bars at the top and bottom, so you're not wasting resolution to reproduce black bars. Mitsubishi includes two anamorphic modes so that you don't have to use a sliding anamorphic lens that must be moved out of the way when you return to standard 16:9 sources. Anamorphic mode 1 stretches the image vertically to suit the anamorphic lens, while anamorphic mode 2 squeezes it horizontally to correctly view 16:9 content with the lens still in place.
Finally, the HC6800's setup menu allows you to select different amounts of overscan (or none at all) for 480i, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p content. This is helpful because, while overscan is undesirable with 1080p sources, you may want it when viewing 480i, 720p, and 1080i television content to cut off noise around the edges of the broadcast signal.
For my initial go-round with the HC6800, I made only minimal changes to the projector's default settings. I simply switched to the most theater-friendly presets (the cinema gamma mode and warm color temperature) and checked out some HDTV and Blu-ray sources in a fully darkened theater room. Even with minimal adjustment, the HC6800 renders a pleasing image, with good overall contrast. What immediately struck me was how clean and natural the picture looked. It doesn't matter that the menu lacks noise-reduction options for HD content because the picture has little noise to worry about. Skintones looked neutral, and colors were rich without being oversaturated. Mated with my 75-inch-diagonal Elite screen, the HC6800 also had a nice amount of light output to infuse brighter HDTV images with pop and saturation, and its level of detail was great.