how did this thing know how to fail post-warranty?
October 27, 2010 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Should I pay out the nose to have my Mitsubishi HD projector fixed by these bastards, or suck it up and buy a new one?

About 9 months after warranty expires, my Mitsubishi HC1600 720p DLP Home Theater Projector starts making a weird noise from the inside, like a fan humming really loud. But it turns out its not a fan, its the color wheel.

So I pack the thing up and pay to ship it to Mitsubishi, after finding out that it is out of warranty. The service center comes back, tells me the new color wheel will be $236 for the part, and with labor, shipping, and taxes it comes to $400 bucks to have the damn thing fixed.

I paid $785 for the thing new, and, stupidly, bought an additional bulb at the time as I live overseas, so that's another $340 I invested into this thing (haven't used the replacement bulb yet).

So the question is - do I invest another $400 in an $785 projector and hope for the best with all 3-year-old parts and a new color wheel, and a replacement bulb ready to go whenever the bulb fails, or do I start searching the market for a new projector (in the same price range, but definitely with a better warranty this time)?

I'm kind of pissed at Mitsubishi for putting me over the barrel like this and as such leaning towards the latter, but it feels kind of financially irresponsible. I should also note that going this route forces me to pay another $60 to Mitsubishi for the evaluation. The bastards.

I'm interested in hearing about any experiences with servicing Mitsubishi projectors or ~3 year old projectors in general, and experiences with said tech post-servicing.

Cut and run, or stick with the initial investment and hope for the best?
posted by allkindsoftime to Technology (5 answers total)
You don't have a working projector. You want a working projector. What is the cheapest way to get a working 720p projector? Pay Mitsubishi $400 for a repaired projector, with a warranty on the repair. Assuming you keep the PJ another three years and need the replacement bulb, you'll reap the benefits of the expense of that bulb.

However, if they won't warrant the repair, invoke the sunk cost clause because that $400 may just disappear at any instant, so... write off the Mitsubishi and buy a new PJ. Don't buy a spare bulb for it*. In other words, if that $400 isn't warranted just like the $800 of a new PJ would be, it's just a $400 gamble. You can probably sell the old bulb on eBay.

* Don't buy a spare bulb when you buy the projector because PJ technology is moving very, very fast. Assume that unless you're using it 8 hours a day, a replacement projector in 2-3 years will be either much cheaper or a much better deal. And old bulbs typically hang around at vendors for a while, should you choose to just replace it.

FWIW, as a measure for how fast PJ technology is moving, my first projector had a bulb-life of 400 hours. My second has a life of 2000 hours, and is brighter. My next one, undoubtedly an LED engine, will have a 20K hour lifetime, and be even brighter yet.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:54 AM on October 27, 2010

Just pay the $60 and buy something new. You can probably sell the bulb and broken projector separately on eBay (just be honest about what is wrong with it), and recoup enough money towards a new projector with current technology. You may be able to get as much as $200 or $300 for the projector - people repair this stuff themselves.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 11:57 AM on October 27, 2010

Response by poster: Bonus question: how to find newer models of the same projector that would work with my same replacement bulb for this model? Amazon lists my model as out of stock currently.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:59 AM on October 27, 2010

This product listing suggests that 3 other projectors use that bulb.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 12:28 PM on October 27, 2010

Oh man, were I nearby, I'd fix the thing for you. I modify projectors all the time. Used to do it when I was a grad student, now I do it for industrial research.

Let me suggest another path. Take your projector and try to fix it. Worst case, you have to buy a new one, but you might have to do that anyway. Best case, you learn something and get a deal plus the satisfaction of fixing your own electronics.


In the vast majority of projectors, the color wheel is a really simple thing. It's almost identical to a hard drive platter, but instead of a metal disk, it's a little glass one, with three or four dichroic color filters on it. I can't guarantee the exact placement or difficulty of removal in your projector, but chances are it is easy.

What you do is take the projector apart by taking the screws out. Lift the lid off, minding any connected internal cables (don't be afraid to unplug these, just mark them, some will have a catch or clasp). If you're lucky, the color wheel is just sitting adjacent to the main optical path.

I actually wrote a blog post explaining how to remove DLP color wheels for a still-unpublished research project. Should give you an idea of what you're in for.

Anyway you'd just get the replacement part for $200 or whatever and put it in. You'd need nothing more than some cheap precision screwdrivers and perhaps a screwdriver to calm your nerves. Worst case, you sell the projector and bulb on eBay as-is. Best case, you're back to normal.

I Googled around on the color wheel for this model and it seems to have changed from the HC1500 to the HC1600, which is too bad. I have fixed a lot of stuff by buying a broken model on eBay to scrap parts from. Right now I don't see any HC1600s there to scrap from.

Mitsubishi also has a trade-up program.
posted by fake at 1:00 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

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