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Mitsubishi XD-460U Projector

Bright and sharp XGA projector for presentations and video By Charlie White

The Mitsubishi XD-460U ($1750) is a 1024x768 XGA projector that's marketed to the presentation crowd. It has a Texas Instruments Dark Chip 3 DLP processor inside and claims 2600 ANSI lumens. Although it couldn't be called a miniature projector, at 6.5 pounds it's certainly no heavier than an average laptop and is easily luggable. At first glance, it's an appealing package that will work well for business presenters. Let's take the projector into our test theater and see what it can do.

The Mitsubishi 460U includes a full complement of cables and a road-worthy ballistic nylon carrying case. It fits nicely into that case and ends up being an easy-to-carry package that also includes a Velcro-closed pocket to carry along all the necessary cables. The projector itself is made of a dark gray plastic that doesn't exactly look luxurious, but gets the job done, nonetheless.

As I began setting up the projector, I noticed that I didn't much care for its leveling controls, which amounted to two feet in the back and one under the lens that raised or lowered by screwing them in or out. Such cumbersome controls are an ill-advised choice on any projector. We've seen much better levelers on cheaper projectors, namely the type that operate with one button push that allows you to raise or lower the projector. However inconvenient, it was possible to manipulate the leveling controls on this projector until it was in a desirable orientation.

The ergonomic remote control is well-suited for presentations, however as I've asserted in numerous projector reviews in the past, I think it should be obligatory for every projector remote control to have backlighted buttons. Think of it -- you're frequently watching a projector in a darkened room, so why not have a remote control where you can easily see the buttons? That said, the 460U remote is highly capable. First, it has its own laser pointer inside, and it's a convenience to have laser pointing right away without needing a separate unit in your hand. Second, it works with a mouse, and however awkward these kinds of cursor controls always are, sometimes it's nice to be able to control the PC with a joystick on a remote control. This works no better or worse than any others, and is a welcome feature. The remote also a convenient control on the bottom to advance your PowerPoint presentation slides. That's a nice touch. 

Starting up the projector for the first time, I noticed that its fan was quieter than some, though it wasn't the quietest we've encountered here the Midwest Test Facility. We consider the noise level of a projector fan to be of the utmost importance, and this 460U barely passed the test. After the projector was warmed up, and we first tested the DVI outputs with our laptop set at 1024x768 pixels. For some reason the DVI output was unstable, its picture shaking and shuttering in a way we haven't encountered before. We're not sure if there was a problem with the projector or with our source material, but we moved along to a VGA input and all was well.

The first thing we noticed was how tremendously bright the image from this projector was on our light-gray reference screen. In a completely darkened room, as we always do with projector tests, we set up the unit at our reference 60-inch diagonal image size, with the lens zoomed all the way out to the point where we were using as little glass as possible. Our precision light metering equipment measured the brightest output of this projector at 2271 lumens, which wasn't quite as brilliant as the 2600 lumens quoted in the 460U literature, but was still respectable, and makes this projector bright enough for the most well-lit room. The light was not exactly evenly distributed, though, and while that brightest reading of 2271 lumens was on the bottom-middle part of the screen, we measured a measly 1443 lumens in the upper-right part of the screen. To the trained eye, the upper-right section of the screen was visibly dimmer than the rest, especially with an all-white frame that we generate from the DisplayMate video obstacle course. However, in everyday use that lower light level from the top right of the screen would probably not be immediately apparent.

Running the projector through our DisplayMate obstacle course, its sharpness and high contrast became even more evident, where even down to the 9-pixel 5.4-point font; every character was still sharp and clear. The colors were all beautifully drawn and saturated, and appeared to be highly accurate. This projector looked good no matter how difficult the tasks we threw at it.

It should also be mentioned how exquisitely contrasty the image from this projector is. It's just as contrasty as you could ever want, and the contrast ratio itself is impressive, too. This new Texas Instruments Dark Chip 3 is also a formidable addition to the stable of DLP chips, where its blacks are well rendered down to the darkest of grays, and while not completely black, we judge them to be satisfyingly dark, especially for a DLP chip. Overall, the image from this projector is as good as any 1024x768 projector we've seen. 

Acclimating ourselves to the controls, the first thing we noticed was that the keystone control works well, but we were slightly disappointed not to see the ability to adjust the corners of the screen for even finer control of the image. However, normally in this price range you don't see corner pinning capability, and the keystone control on this projector was able to square up the picture in just about any typical situation. There also choices for various brightness, contrast and color settings, where there's a color enhancer that gives you a variety of brightness levels, from a super-bright presentation setting for use in well-lit around rooms, to a less contrasty standard setting, down to a more muted theater setting which is well-suited for watching DVDs. Although theoretically these are good ideas, we preferred the brightest presentation setting even for watching video, because it gave us the most vivid and dramatic rendition of color and contrast.

The quality of video playback from this projector with DVDs and HDTV using the component inputs was also impressive. DVDs played back smoothly and the colors were highly saturated, and it was a pleasant experience watching an entire movie with this projector. HDTV was also much better than you would expect from a 1024x768 projector, where our HDTV source was capable of much more than that limited XGA resolution, but even so, this projector was able to handle and down-rez that higher resolution with alacrity. After extended viewings with a variety of sources, we can only conclude that this is truly a projector that can be at home in the boardroom as well as the home theater. 

Overall, we were impressed with the Mitsubishi 460U. Its sharp, bright output, versatility and relative portability are all great assets, and its low $1750 price makes it an excellent value. Highly recommended. 8.4 stars out of 10.

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Related Keywords:Mitsubishi XD-460U, 1024x768, XGA, projector, presentation, Texas Instruments, Dark Chip 3, DLP processor, 2600 ANSI lumens, appealing package, business presenters, theater


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