Review: Mitsubishi Unisen 249 Series LCD TV

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Mitsubishi’s Unisen 249 Series LCD

Mitsubishi's Unisen 249 Series LCDs project 5.1-channel surround sound, to go with quality images.


Dec. 23, 2009 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Manufacturers talk about how cool invisible speakers are and how psycho-acoustic surround sound envelops an audience, yet they keep ignoring the sound quality in TVs. TV audio still comes out of teeny, tiny speakers—and it doesn’t sound good.

This is also why so many home theater systems and soundbars are sold. The problem is that many people can’t or won’t hook-up these additional systems. So are they stuck with mediocre sound forever?

Not if Mitsubishi has its way. The company’s new Unisen 249 Series of 1080p LCD HDTVs are designed so viewers can finally enjoy 5.1-channel sound from a TV. The sets are available in 46- and 52-inch screen sizes, and each comes with what Mitsubishi calls a built-in “sound projector.”

A bank of 18 speakers line the bottom of the set and can be adjusted to reflect sound off the room’s walls to create surround effects. For fully immersive surround sound, the sound projector delays the sound beams and projects them at varying intervals.

You simply enter your specific room dimensions into the on-screen graphical interface during setup, or use the calibration microphone to set the sound beams for optimal sound within your environment. It’s very easy to use. You can also adjust the direction, location and sound levels for each of the five channels. For added oomph, there’s a subwoofer-out jack on the back of the set for an optional 100-watt wireless powered subwoofer ($399, which Mitsubishi is also bundling in some promotions). It worked flawlessly, and certainly added much needed depth and presence.

The TVs also feature an UltraThin Frame design with a very thin bezel, 240Hz refresh rate for judder-free viewing of fast motion, and features like Enhanced Color, 6-Color Processor, DeepField Imager, and PerfectColor. Both the LT-46249 and LT-52249 add Mitsubishi’s proprietary Plush1080p 5G 18-bit Digital Video Processing that scales the picture with minimal side effects. Mitsubishi takes color up a notch by adding x.v.Color and Deep Color for smoother transitions between shades via HDMI 1.3a.

Colors on the LT-52249 and LT-46249 were vibrant and lifelike. Those displayed from HD programming on Dish Network and Blu-ray Disc showed no bleeding, and lines between colors were straight and true. Grayscale transformed itself from light to dark seamlessly. The black levels and contrast could have been better, however. Overall, the image quality was quite good.

The Unisen 249 Series TVs also include integrated HD programming from popular video streaming pay service Vudu, which is built into the set. Vudu can be accessed via a standard Ethernet connection on the TV or an optional wireless kit from Vudu. Vudu also features popular internet applications like YouTube, Flickr, Pandora, Picasa, as well as an “On Demand TV” area with more than 80 channels to choose from. Vudu requires an internet bandwidth of 4.5 Mbps or higher for HDX 1080p HD video, 2.25 Mbps for 720p, and 1.0 Mbps or higher for instant SD video (480p).

And by the way, the sound was tremendous. The 249 Series sound projector won’t replace a full-blown home theater system, but it will provide a very pleasing sound experience to complement the nice visuals. Selected BD and DVD content such as Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind – 30th Anniversary Edition, Across The Universe, Celtic Woman – The Greatest Journey: Essential Collection (DVD), My Life in Ruins and Watchmen – The Director’s Cut sounded especially compelling, making this LCD HDTV a perfect match for those not setting up a complete home theater system or who can’t stuff six speakers in a room.

The aural performance rivals or exceeds many of the reasonably priced (under $750) stand-alone home theater speaker systems. And make sure you get the optional wireless sub, which can be positioned in a corner for extra oomph and depth. My only nitpick is with the poorly designed remote, which was cumbersome to use.

While not inexpensive, extended viewings with the Unisen are recommended for a terrific home theater experience.


AT A GLANCE
Specs:
> Full HD 1080p panel with Ultra-Thin Frame
> 18-Speaker Integrated Sound Projector with included calibration microphone
> Bottom-mounted Soundbar-type speaker array (2-watt x 16 + 10-watt x 2)
> Integrated Vudu
> Variable Smooth 240Film Motion
> Plush 1080p 5G 18-bit Digital Video Processing w/6-Color Processor
> PerfecTint and Deep Field Imager
> 4 HDMI 1.3a Deep Color (36-bit) & x.v.Color inputs
> USB multimedia port (side)
> ISFccc Certified Video Calibration
> Optional 100-watt wireless subwoofer
> Energy Star 3.0 certified
> 46-inch: 31 x 42 x 12.9 inches; 68.4 lbs.(with stand)
> 52-inch: 34.4 x 47.7 x 14 inches; 85.1 lbs. (with stand)
> $2,599 to $3,099

Pros:
> Excellent image quality
> Best TV-only sound available
> Integrated Vudu streaming HD video service

Cons:
> Pricey
> Not ultra thin
> Hard to use poorly-designed remote with tiny directional keys



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