Mitsubishi LT-52149 LCD TV

Anyone who has read my TV reviews knows I'm not a big fan of the audio systems built into most models. They usually sound thin and closed in, and there's not much stereo separation, to say nothing of surround sound. So when Mitsubishi announced a new line of LCD TVs with an integrated sound bar, I sat up and took notice.

After months of waiting, I finally got one for review—the LT-52149, a 52-inch, 1080p LCD TV with what Mits calls the Integrated Sound Projector (ISP). Does it really provide a superior TV-sound experience? Yes, as long as it's in a small- to medium-sized room.

The ISP consists of 16 small speaker drivers arranged in a horizontal row along the bottom of the screen. Using a technique called beam steering—which relies on phase shifting and other audio signal processing—the five main channels in a 5.1 signal are aimed to reflect from the walls to create a surround soundfield at the listening position. This is not unlike the standalone sound bars on the market from Yamaha, Denon, and Polk among others. A subwoofer output lets you connect a sub to help with the low frequencies.

Aside from the ISP, the 52149's feature set is fairly standard for an upscale LCD TV these days. For example, the screen is refreshed at 120Hz, which purports to reduce motion blur by interpolating new frames that are inserted between the actual frames in a 24 or 60fps signal. You can turn this interpolation off, in which case frames are repeated as necessary to get to 120 per second.

The HDMI 1.3 inputs support x.v.Color, an expanded color gamut, and Deep Color, which represents the brightness of each color with more bits, allowing smoother gradations. However, no commercial content is produced with these standards, so they are essentially useless in my view.

HDMI 1.3 also supports Consumer Electronics Control (CEC), which lets compatible devices communicate with each other via HDMI and allows the entire system to be controlled from one remote. All manufacturers have their own names for this—Mitsubishi calls it NetCommand.

One feature that used to be much more common is TV Guide Daily, an interactive program guide for cable and over-the-air broadcasts. It's subscription-free, but it may be superfluous if you already have a program guide from your cable or satellite provider.