Mitsubishi Unisen LT-46153

Key Features
$2,200 Mitsubishi-tv.com
• 47-inch, 1080p-resolution screen • 120-Hz display with Smooth 120Hz film mode • USB input with JPEG photo and MP3 music player • 16-speaker sound projector • IR output for pass-through device control • Inputs: 4 HDMI, 2 component-, and 1 component-/compositevideo; coaxial digital audio and 2 stereo analog audio; RF Ant/ Cable; USB • Outputs: Coaxial digital audio; analog stereo audio; subwoofer; IR repeater • Dimensions + Weight 42 x 28 x 3 in; 62 lb (without stand)

Model-thin TV designs are all the rage these days, but there's evidence of other efforts on the part of set makers to transform the electronic hearth. Making TVs Internet-friendly by adding Ethernet connections and onscreen "widgets" is one example. Another is the media-streaming deals that let them directly access movies from services like Netflix, CinemaNow, Amazon Video on Demand, and Vudu. But a more obvious scheme - one that, surprisingly, only Mitsubishi appears to have given serious consideration - is beefing up a TV's audio performance so that a separate surround-sound system isn't necessary.

Mitsubishi's Unisen 249 and 153 Series TVs (including the 46-inch model LT-46153 under review) all feature a 16-speaker integrated sound projector. Unlike basic soundbars, which typically deliver "virtual surround" from stereo speakers, sound projectors use digital signal processing to intelligently direct 5.1 signals, bouncing the sound off the walls of your room to more realistically approximate a rear-speaker effect. A 3-inch-high speaker enclosure - even one packed with 16 drivers - can only deliver so much bass, however, so Mitsubishi also includes a subwoofer output jack. To make the most of that feature, many Mitsubishi TV dealers package the set with Polk Audio's PSWi225, a wireless powered model with an 8-inch woofer.

But surround sound is only part of the LT- 46153's picture. This TV also has a 120-Hz display, along with Smooth 120Hz processing to reduce judder with film-based programs. And a user-accessible Advanced Video Calibration mode lets you dig deeply into finetuning the set's picture, with color-temperature controls, color-management menus, and selectable gamma presets.

The LT-46153's look is classy and understated. With its barely-there ¾ -inch-wide frame, there's not much to detract from the picture. The sound projector runs the full width of the TV's bottom edge, and a sturdy gloss-black stand keeps everything firmly propped up. Around back are two sets of inputs - one directly on the back panel and the second on a recessed panel for wall-mounted installations - both of which offer two HDMI jacks and a component-video/stereo audio input. A side panel offers up component-video/ stereo audio inputs and a USB port.

Mitsubishi's compact and strikingly minimal remote control is a radical departure from the cluttered ones that come with most other TVs. Buttons that may not see everyday use, including those that control Input, Aspect Ratio, and Picture mode, have been banished to the virtual domain. To access these, you press a button labeled More, and an onscreen keyboard pops up. You then trigger the controls by hitting a corresponding number button on the remote's keypad. I liked Mitsubishi's approach here, but also would have preferred backlit buttons and larger menu-navigation controls. (You need to really dig in with your thumbnail to access the arrow buttons.)

The LT-46153 also provides a streamlined system for managing source components. Instead of switching to Input 1 or 2 directly on the remote, an Activity button brings up an onscreen menu with categories like Watch Movie along with a grid of related components (for example, Blu-ray and VCR for Watch Movie, and DVR for Watch TV). From here you select a specific activity/component and the TV switches to the correct input. You can use the remote to operate other components via HDMI-CEC, and also set the TV up to relay controls via infrared repeaters.

SETUP

The TV's Picture Mode options include Brilliant, Bright, and Natural presets, each of which can be independently adjusted per input. Natural delivers a picture that adheres closely to the 6,500-K standard, so that's the one you should choose for watching movies in rooms with dim, theater-like lighting. Settings here include variable backlight, High and Low color temperature, Video noise, and a DeepField Imager option that's supposed to boost contrast by deepening black levels, although I didn't notice any difference when it was turned on. A Picture+ menu provides even more picture tweaks, including a PerfectColor menu with primary and secondary color adjustments and an Advanced Picture submenu that includes gamma presets, high and low color-temperature settings, and a second set of color- management controls.

The audio options on the Mitsubishi are nearly as extensive as the video ones. After setting up the Polk Audio PSWi225 that Mitsubishi sent - a process that involved connecting the TV's subwoofer output to the Polk's wireless transmitter and then finding a spot for the compact sub - I selected Subwoofer On and the transmitter automatically paired with the PSWi225. A level adjustment lets you balance the sub's output once you've finished calibrating the main audio channels.

Both automatic and manual setup options are available to calibrate the sound projector for best performance in your room. With Automatic, you connect a supplied calibration microphone and place it at head level at your normal seating position. You then hit the onscreen Start button, and the TV emits a series of test tones. Setup complete! In Manual mode, you first enter the length of the front and side walls as well as the distance from the TV to the seating position. Once that's done, you next adjust levels for the center, left/right front, and left/right surround channels using either your trusty ears or a sound-pressure level meter, and then set beam angles for the individual channels. Angle adjustments let you compensate for both off-center TV locations and irregular wall surfaces. And the beams are actually depicted onscreen as you move them - a useful visual reference.

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