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Mitsubishi WD-65831 65" DLP Rear Projection TV Page 2

Any time we review a DLP set we have to warn readers about the potentially annoying "rainbow" effect that a few people see. It's an artifact caused by the color wheel. Though I didn't see any rainbows with this set (I'm not particularly sensitive to them), the potential for them exists, as does the potential for eyestrain and headaches. With DLP, your eyes don't realize it but your brain does a lot of processing. It's the final digital to analog converter. But at least I haven't seen any reliability or sample-to-sample variability headaches caused by these sets, which is something I certainly can't say about most of the competition.

The Viewing Experience
Initial HD viewing was done from both a Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD player and from the latest DISH Network ViP622 HD satellite receiver/DVR. This new DISH receiver is my first experience with the MPEG-4 compression technology that's the future of satellite broadcasting for both DISH and DirecTV. I spent considerable time with DISH's earlier DVR-equipped 942 HD boxes and noticed a significant reduction in artifacts as soon as I changed to the 622. I have yet to experience HD this good via cable box. I've found that the various Motorola cable boxes, though they might look alike, vary considerably in picture quality. Satellite boxes can vary too, and one iteration of the DirecTV box released about a year ago was responsible for imparting a slight greenish cast to everything that came out of it. The DISH 622, however, seems remarkably competent in every way.

With HD, the WD-65831 is a standout. It's very bright, but you can easily pull it down to whatever light level you might like (unlike the Samsung, which can be too bright even at Contrast=0) and establish presets for various room lighting scenarios. It has very good blacks, subjectively similar to but measurably better than the JVC and Samsung sets, so dark scenes look quite good (though a notch behind the Sony SXRDs). Mitsubishi's Deep Field Imager feature attempts to further improve contrast, but I never found a program that looked better with it turned on.

Colors are vivid and gorgeous, even with levels set where flesh tones appear completely natural. And flesh tones themselves are among the best I've yet seen. Blue is bolder than most (particularly noticeable in sky shots) but green actually can benefit from a bit of boost in the Perfect Color menu, which gives the user control over individual colors. Overall color accuracy is very good, with a more natural look than Sony, even though the Mitsubishi's color decoder isn't as accurate. Reds, in particular, are superb, and much better than the JVC. The Samsung's color is slightly more accurate, but only in its Movie mode and after an ISF grayscale calibration.

Finally, screen uniformity is flawless, unlike the LCoS designs of today (JVC and Sony), which vary (sometimes considerably) from sample to sample.

With all of this praise, one would wonder what's not to like about such a set. Well, the video processing isn't the best, and if you're looking for artifacts you'll find more here than with my two competing sets or the recently tested Sony SXRD. This is something that a videophile will quickly see, but frankly it's not something that jumps out for everyone to notice and protest. Compared to the processing in the JVC and Samsung sets, the Mits always has a few more deinterlacing, motion, and panning artifacts. But without a direct comparison, you might never notice.

In addition, the Mits isn't quite as razor sharp as its JVC and Sony competitors. Mitsubishi's Sharp Edge feature, useful for HD, dreadful for DVDs, covers this up somewhat by introducing additional enhancement to "sharpen" the picture. But even with this artifact-producing enhancement, the picture sometimes still looks slightly soft. The root of the problem may be in the processing and/or the so-called "wobulation" method of creating a 1080p image with the current TI DLP chip. Once again, with HD the weakness is subtle compared to the many strengths of this picture. [Current single-chip, 1080p DLP rear projectors use a 960x1080 DLP imaging chip which rapidly shifts the pixels in the horizontal direction to display 1920 pixels on screen and achieve full 1920x1080 resolution. –Ed.]

While the scaling/deinterlacing/edge enhancement weaknesses of this set are subtle with HD sources, they're less subtle with 480i over component video. With a standard definition DVD source, many sets these days actually have better processing than some players and therefore look better when receiving 480i from the player. But the Mitsubishi benefits from a 480p DVD source, where the player does the deinterlacing work and the set only has to scale 480p up to its native 1080p. With good, inexpensive, progressive scan DVD players everywhere, this really is a moot point for DVD.

But with 480i off-the-air or from cable, CableCARD, or a satellite box, the Mitsubishi's deinterlacing could be an issue. If you have a choice, you might get better results by configuring your set-top box to upconvert standard definition sources rather than having it pass 480i straight through. This would apply even more so to the cheaper 731 series, which have even more issues at 480i. Both 480i and 480p are very unforgiving of excessive edge enhancement, which this set exhibits even with Sharpness set to 0. While standard DVDs don't look bad on this Mitsubishi, other sets look cleaner.

And one quick note about DVD players: If you have an upconverting DVD player, resist the temptation to run it at 1080i. Poor upconversion on so many of today's cheaper players combined with no 3:2 pulldown in most sets at 1080i will just about guarantee a poorer image than running the player at 480p.

Conclusion
If your main focus is watching HD content, particularly sporting events, in a brightly lit room, you simply won't do any better than the WD-65831 when the overall punch and beauty of the picture is what's most important. Even with HD movies in a dark room, the 831 is right up there in the top tier. And, when it comes to useful features and really thoughtful factory planning, the 831 (and the cheaper 732 as well) takes a back seat to no set and can make most others, particularly the JVC, seem down right inconvenient to use.

There are a few technical points that would seem to pull the 65831 down from the top rating. Go to the "Tests and Calibration" section and I'll tell you more about them. But in spite of those measurable weaknesses, the real-world HD picture is just fantastic. The most important things are done very well. If it was just a tad sharper and blacks were just a tad darker it would unquestionably be the HD king.

Conventional non-HD sources don't compare quite as well as HD to the best of the competition, but then, most non-HD 480i sources even on the best of the competition will never look very good anyway. Personally, I wouldn't let that stop me from buying this set. It's definitely a set I could live with happily, even knowing full well what else is out there.

Summing this up, other Mitsubishi's DLP sets I've reviewed and calibrated over the past few years have disappointed me, but this one's a real contender. Since all of the RPTVs mentioned in this review have individual strengths and weaknesses, it's difficult if not impossible to pick the best, but I can assure you that the WD-65831 deserves a high recommendation. It's not likely to disappoint.

Highs
Bright, colorful, impressive HD picture
Superb grayscale tracking & screen uniformity
Superb features

Lows
Marginal deinterlacing, visible artifacts
Slightly soft picture
Excessive edge enhancement

Randy Tomlinson is a certified ISF technician in the Atlanta area and can be reached via his web site at www.advancedtechservice.com

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