HP md5880n 58-inch DLP HDTV Page 2

The Short Form
$3,500 / 38 x 60.25 x 19 IN / 119 LBS / hp.com / 888-999-4747
•Excellent detail and color with HDTV •Unique design with full front-panel A/V inputs •Great price for a 1080p bigscreen HDTV
•Some loss of black depth in dark scenes •Slightly pale reds after adjustment •Onscreen guide lacks program listings
Key Features
•1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution DLP 58-inch display •Built-in digital cable-ready tuner •Front-panel A/V input system •inputs CableCARD slot; 2 HDMI, 2 component-video, 3 composite- and S-video, all with analog stereo audio; 2 RF cable/antenna; VGA with minijack analog stereo audio; analog stereo audio (for DVI-to-HDMI connections) •outputs composite-video, coaxial digital audio, analog stereo audio •Price $3,500
Test Bench
After modest user-menu calibration, the HP md5880n's grayscale tracking was ±200 K from 20 to 100 IRE, which is very good performance. Picture geometry was slightly off, with some vertical bowing visible on video test patterns but not on regular programs. A -10 red color decoder error on both the HDMI and component-video inputs encouraged me to increase the set's color saturation - at the modest expense of some accuracy in the green. Screen uniformity was excellent at viewing angles up to 30° - an unusually wide viewing window for a rear projector - and so was picture resolution, with every line in a 1080i-format multiburst test pattern visible through all high-def inputs. Full Lab Results
PICTURE QUALITY Watching a scene from Mr. & Mrs. Smith with an upconverting Denon DVD player plugged into the TV's HDMI input, I noticed that the skin tones of Angelina Jolie and the fashionable assassin's female support staff looked natural, and there was a wide range of tonal variation in their faces. The set's color rendition in this scene and some others was accurate but also seemed a little pale, most noticeably on reds. For example, in a shot where Jolie poses as a dominatrix for an assignment, the red walls and curtains of the hotel room came across as more of a faded cherry hue than a deep, visceral red.

One thing that did come through dramatically in that scene was the deep black tone of Jolie's vinyl outfit, likely helped by HP's inclusion of a mechanical aperture in the light path that improves contrast. However, the HP's black rendition tended to vary according to the overall brightness of the image. In a dim poker-game scene that takes place in a bar's backroom, the deepest shadows looked dark gray as opposed to the rich black of Jolie's getup in the dominatrix scene. Even so, there was quite a good amount of shadow detail visible - enough to reveal various objects cluttering the wall.

Switching over to a Discovery HD Theater documentary called Sunrise Earth, I was confronted with static shots of sea anemones and common periwinkles. Usually, I don't have the patience to watch this kind of video wallpaper, but the HP's excellent picture detail made the whole thing spellbinding. The set showed an extraordinary range of orange and brown tones in a shot of seabirds nesting in a coral cavity. And an image of an algae-strewn pool revealed remarkable depth as the light reflected from its surface and bounced off of the surrounding rocks.

Another HD doc - this one a European travelogue of Madrid - looked equally stunning on the HP md5580n. As the tour guide strolled purposefully across the Plaza Mayor, there was a wealth of detail visible in both the stones lining the plaza and the intricate buildings lying just beyond. I occasionally saw a slight jittery effect in horizontal building crevices during camera pans but when I switched to regular high-def movies or sports, I barely noticed this effect at all.

BOTTOM LINE I found a lot to be excited about while looking at the HP md5880n 58-inch DLP HDTV. The set's 1080p-resolution picture captures the full detail of HDTV programs. And its natural color, cool design, and innovative features - including future-proof 1080p input capability - make it one of the strongest options available in rear-projection HDTVs. When you take into account the reasonable $3,500 price, things only get that much more interesting. If you're shopping for an HDTV at this size, the HP md5880n should be at or near the top of your list.