Mitsubishi LT-46144 LCD Flat Panel HDTV Page 2
You cannot select inputs directly but rather must choose them from a menu. Mitsubishi's Easy Connect auto input sensing feature, however, makes this less painless than usual by prompting you to assign a name to a source when you connect it (from a pre-set list). It then ignores unused inputs on the input selection menu.
There's the usual assortment of video controls: Contrast, Brightness, Color, Tint, and Sharpness. There's also a Backlight control and a two-position color temperature adjustment—High and Low. No other color temperature adjustments are provided in the user menus, and a code-protected service menu provides only overall adjustments for red, green, and blue (for both the High and Low color temp options), not the more desirable, separate controls for the low and high end of the brightness range.
Other user controls include PerfectColor, which provides separate saturation (intensity) controls for red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, and magenta (these controls do not affect the color temperature). There's also a single, three-position Video Noise control (High, Medium, and Low), and a film mode (Auto and Off) for 480i and 1080i sources.
The lack of other exotic video controls typical of much of Mitsubishi's competition is not necessarily a negative. Those offbeat controls can give video-challenged owners the opportunity to mess up the picture in a multitude of ways, while leaving more experienced users—and reviewers—scratching their heads trying to see there is some odd combination of settings that can improve the picture more than simply setting the basic controls correctly (there usually isn't).
There are four Picture Modes: Brilliant, Game, Bright, and Natural. (Game is available only when you name an input either Game or PC.) Only some of these can be adjusted separately for each input. I obtained roughly equivalent performance at first from Bright and Natural, given appropriate adjustments to the user controls, but Natural eventually pulled ahead. Brilliant (described in the manual as "For use under strong light") did odd things to the color, and while it may be possible to dial those deviations out with calibration, I saw no point in doing so since Natural, when well calibrated and adjusted, performed as well or better than any other mode.
The partially backlit Mitsubishi remote is fine, with conveniently positioned, well-sized buttons. It can control four other products in normal operation when programmed with the right codes, and more if you can use it in conjunction with Mitsubishi's NetCommand feature.
Last but not least, the Mits offers six different aspect ratio settings (called TV Display Formats here—or just Format on the remote). They are slightly different for 4:3 material than for 16:9 HD or SD upconverted material, and also named slightly differently than most sets.
The biggies for 4:3 SD programming are called Narrow (4:3 with sidebars) and Expand (usually called Zoom elsewhere). These work fine if the incoming resolution is either 480i or 480p.
But if you feed the set a standard definition, 4:3 program upconverted at the source to 720p or 1080i/p, the only options available are Standard and Wide Expand. Under these conditions, Standard will produce an undistorted image for 4:3 material. But a 4:3 letterboxed SD image, played back at 720p or 1080i/p in Standard, will appear in a letterbox window within a 4:3 area at the center of the screen (black bars on all sides). Wide Expand will expand it to fill the screen from left to right, but with unacceptable distortion. The only way to get it to fill the screen from left to right without distortion is to change the resolution of the source to 480i/p and select Expand.
For HD programming, or 16:9 DVDs upconverted externally to 720p or 1080i/p, Standard is the correct setting.
Many new LCDs are producing black levels—both subjective and measured—that are exceptional compared to the state-of-the-LCD-art of the recent past. They're not yet the equal of the best plasmas or microdisplays, but nevertheless very impressive for a technology that was limited to selling medium grays as blacks not so long ago.
And that's fundamental. For a movie fan, if a set can't reproduce believable blacks then nothing else it does matters. And the Mitsubishi is right up there with the best LCD flat panels I've seen in its ability to produce convincingly real blacks, shadow detail, and contrast. Not the best I've seen and measured from all flat panel technologies, but fully satisfying on 95% of the program material I watched.
Getting the color spot-on with the Mitsubishi presented challenges, primarily in the limited adjustments it offers, even in the service menu, and how that menu operates (see "Measurements"). Out of the box, the Low color temperature was too cool, ranging in its Low setting from just over 6900K to about 7200K rather than the 6500K (or, more precisely, D6500) standard. But that's not all bad, considering that many competitors can't even get that close, or choose not to.
A calibration did improve this by a worthwhile margin. While I did occasionally sense a hint of excess green, it was elusive. Both flesh tones and green foliage (two of the most difficult colors to reproduce believably since we all see them every day—unless you live in the Sahara desert) were very convincing.