December 23, 2009
| by Dennis P. Barker
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.
Dennis has been involved with Consumer Electronics forever it seems. His 25+-year career includes a 12-year tour of duty at Consumer Reports magazine, as well as stints as a product reviewer, market analyst, technical editor, and consultant for the electronics industry. He lives in Ossining, NY with his two children, one demanding cat and piles of A/V equipment.