Serial #: 101561
Summary: Better than expected for casual viewing applications
LCD has come a long way since just a few years ago, taking over the flat panel market up to about 50" in screen size. While Mitsubishi is far better known for rear projection DLP since the demise of CRT, market forces can't be ignored and consumers remain spellbound by the flat panel concept in their homes. Let's see what Mitsubishi has to offer and how their LCD products compare.
Since last year Mitsubishi has offered 40", 46" and 52" models and the LT46148 is part of their current line of 1920x1080 displays.
Out of Box Performance
In a matter of minutes the TV went from out of the box to displaying images from a TiVo Series 3 using HDMI via the auto input sensing feature. It does take a minute or two for the display to recognize the connection and perform this function for you. After setting up the input it will ask about setting up the remote for NetCommand which I skipped. As with all display products you get sales mode from the manufacturer which is their calibration to induce your purchase having nothing to do with performance imaging and video standards. My son joined me on this first look and both of us quickly grew weary of the artificial artifact ridden response. Having experience with Mitsubishi products I set the picture mode to Natural, color temp to Low and Video Noise to off creating a perceptually pleasing response similar to what we would expect with video standards. As we went channel surfing, first impression was intermittent jumping or skipped frames. We finally settled in on a 20 year old movie on HDNet. This led to a discussion of how this movie did not look its age as if it had just been shot with an HD video camera. My son followed up with comments of how so far it looked like computer generated images along with an artificial motion response. I went into the menu and turned off the Smooth 120 Hz LCD processing making the movie finally look like film, removing the CG motion artifact as well. We played with this feature some more and spent about 10 minutes on one particular scene using the TiVo DVR function. The Smooth 120 Hz LCD processing has three settings, off, medium and high. High provided the most artificial response and quirky motion totally un-natural. Medium was little improvement. While this feature did remove motion blur for the most part it would intermittently lose cadence lock jumping a frame or blurring for a moment. We both agreed the best setting was with this feature turned off. Some more surfing and testing of the Smooth 120 Hz feature brought us to another HDNet Movie from 1996. Ultimately we found the imaging seductive along with the movie being entertaining and involving so we turned off the feature and ended up watching the movie all the way through.
If you were interested in this feature GalleryPlayer has closed it's doors. Per GalleryPlayers website they ceased operations July 30th 2008. CrunchGear reported that founder Scott Lipsky had sold the company August 2008. On August 27th, 2008, Mitsubishi issued a press release stating, "Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Inc. has been informed by GalleryPlayer, Inc. that GalleryPlayer will no longer provide the service that enables owners of certain models of televisions to download and display art and photographic imagery on their flat panel HDTVs. Accordingly, while owners can continue to view their own photographs on their televisions, that portion of the GalleryPlayer feature which was designed to allow access to the GalleryPlayer on-line library of images will not function as advertised". The loss of the GalleryPlayer feature affected models from Panasonic and Samsung as well.
You can still put pictures on a USB flash drive but unfortunately PC images are encoded for PC video 0-255 and this input is setup for consumer video, 16-235. That means upper whites, 235-255, and lower blacks, 0-15, are clipped delivering images with artifacts appearing overdriven with highlights washed out, blacks cut off, devoid of color or wrong color. For those who know what good video should look like it will be obvious yet those who do not know any better may be potentially satisfied.
Using a PC
The display does not offer a VGA PC input requiring you have a DVI or HDMI digital video output instead from your PC. According to the manual you must name the HDMI input you are using for your computer, PC, "It is important to use the name PC so that the TV can process the video signal correctly". This setting is critical if you want the most out of your PC because it allows 4:4:4 color processing. This also changes your aspect ratio options adding a 1:1 pixel mapped centered output with some scan rates.
If you select PC for the input name the display expects PC progressive scan rates at a 60 Hz frame rate. It won't display 1080i as an example if you are using your PC for DTV outputting native 1080i. If you expect to run a PC Blu-ray player in the future it won't accept 1080p24 frame properly either telling you this scan rate doesn't work. Although it will show an image, after downsizing it with black borders all around, your 1:1 pixel map is destroyed.
One of the quietest displays I have had in my presence. This is to be expected of LCD in general.
None that I am aware of.
During the HQV Benchmark Blu-ray test I was checking how the 120 Hz processing was responding to the panning stadium test which requires bringing the menu up and multiple cursor key presses to navigate to the setting finally exiting from the menu to view the image. On one occasion the menu was stuck on the screen and all controls locked out with no way to recover without pulling the AC cord from the wall. I just let it sit and fortunately within about 1 minute the display recovered returning to normal.
The display offers a wide horizontal left to right viewing angle without the typical washed out look of older generation LCD panels. It does slightly change the black levels and slightly discolors at extreme angles. Vertical angles were another story and in that case the display did significantly wash out and discolor. If you are installing the display over a fireplace for example you will want to use a mount that tilts it downward to try and maintain a 90 degree viewing angle to your favored sitting position. If you are using the display at a normal screen height lined up with your viewing positions, either mounted on the wall or using the supplied stand, you should be fine.
If viewing angle is important in your application there are other brands that perform better in both the vertical and horizontal planes.
Subjective Viewing Results
As noted in the bench testing portion the display is not inclined towards ISF calibration but does provide a surprisingly good response with factory settings. The only time calibration errors were clearly visible was when viewing content I am intimate with limiting such perception to test materials or menus from sources.
With the Smooth 120 Hz LCD Processing turned off, a variety of material and sources were viewed for over two months with not one complaint. There were rare occasions where having Smooth 120 Hz turned off revealed significant motion artifacts with 24 or 30 frame sources. Nobody in the house wanted it turned on due to the artificial CG outcome of the feature and I was the only one who ever noticed the occasional motion errors.
The display has ample light output, a great contrast ratio and the appearance of deep dark blacks. The unique back lighting design provides a wide range of light output to match your viewing environment. Image details were sharp and crisp. HD sources looked fantastic along with upscaled SD content from DVD or from a TiVo Series 3 DVR and cable service. If you are not going to provide sources that upscale to HD, using the internal Plush 1080p scaler of the display instead for standard definition sources such as the antenna input for analog cable, you may wish you had your old analog TV back. SD scaling is quite poor so upgrading your sources is highly recommended for the first time HDTV buyer. If you are replacing an older HDTV display, you more than likely have all this covered already.
Putting it in Perspective
This display was used in the upstairs casual viewing environment. While the ultimate in all performance attributes is not the main goal for that application, I prefer a display that can at least be calibrated to video standards for an accurate color response. I can do better in that regard with a different brand and it is a shame Mitsubishi does not want to provide at least that level of calibration capability.
With videophiles out of the loop I can concentrate on the typical viewer, but need to break that down into two groups; casual viewer with some money to spend on sources and casual viewer on a budget.
For the budget casual viewer who intends to just drop this display into a current standard definition setup using the same standard definition connections that you always have, then you can also do better with a different brand due to the flaws of the internal Plush 1080p scaler.
For the casual viewer who intends to provide HD service via an external set top box, provide an upscaling DVD player or Blu-ray / DVD combo player, an Xbox 360 or PS3 or use a PC, this display has a lot to offer mostly because of the better than average factory calibration available at your fingertips.
Price versus performance may be the faltering point though, even for the casual viewer that will spend money on upgrades. Even if the flaws can be overlooked one might wonder why they would do that since they can do better in some performance areas for plus or minus $200.
If you are a videophile intending to ISF calibrate, looking for the best performance and accurate imaging from a display, this is not the right product for that application. As noted in the "On the Test Bench" follow-up piece, the response is a mixed bag of results and the product lacks the necessary controls to correct errors.
If you are looking for some good performance, accuracy is not required and you will not be ISF calibrating, then this display is worthy of your consideration. That represents 90% of the market who have never heard of the concept of video standards much less video calibration. Indeed, this display has much to offer because with a few control setting changes, the factory calibration is not that far off, representing one of the better factory imaging responses available. I was satisfied over the two months and never developed a need to return to our Samsung DLP display. Overall, performance results fall somewhere between "casual viewing" and "performance viewing".
Stay tuned tomorrow for the remainder of this review where we put the Mitsubishi LT46148 LCD HDTV "On the Test Bench".
Posted by Richard Fisher, March 18, 2009 9:29 AM
About Richard FisherRichard Fisher is the President of Mastertech Repair Corporation, serving north east Atlanta, Georgia, and has been servicing, calibrating and reviewing audio video products since 1981. Tech Services USA, a division of Mastertech, creates sites, communities and libraries for consumers and professionals to share their technology knowledge and learn from each other. These include The ISF Forum and HD Library. HDTV Magazine exclusively publishes HD Library and Forum for Tech Services USA.
Richard is ISF and HAA certified providing calibration and A/V reproduction engineering services. Richard is a technical consultant and also provides performance ISF and HAA home theater systems and calibration via Custom HT. Mastertech Repair Corporation is a factory authorized service center for Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Toshiba and a member of the National Electronics Servicing Dealers Association, NESDA, and the Georgia Electronics Servicing Dealers Association, GESDA.