Mitsubishi LCDs get 16 speakers apiece

Mitsubishi's new LCDs feature a Unisen audio system with 16 speakers, said to provide more immersive sound.

Sixteen speakers come standard on the Mitsubishi LT-249 series. Go ahead, count 'em. Mitsubishi

Update 12/21/2009: Since this product preview was written, CNET has reviewed the highest-end member of Mitsubishi's Unisen line, the LT-249 series. It features 2 more speakers than the 151 and 153 series described below, and also includes a few other enhancements (namely support for Vudu), but we still expect its audio and video quality to be very similar to the step-down models. For more information, check out the full review of the Mitsubishi LT-249 series.

Not to be outdone by LCD TV makers touting LED backlights, 240Hz refresh rates, and stratospheric prices, Mitsubishi brings its own twist to the game of HDTV step-up-oneupsmanship with its Unisen models, each of which sports a new 16-speaker audio system.

Nestled below the pursed lips of the simulated image above, you'll find 16 speakers, an array that even when turned off should impress visitors to your living room.

When turned on, according to Mitsubishi, the "intelligent speakers...direct perfectly balanced audio waves beside and behind you to reproduce 5.1 surround sound and create an unprecedented depth of sound experience." We haven't tested the system, but on paper it sounds a lot like the principle employed by virtual surround speakers like the Polk Surround Bar.

Given the price of third-party surround bars, the entry-level LT-151 series doesn't seem too expensive. Mitsubishi

If Unisen performs as well as such speaker systems, it will certainly represent the best TV sound we've ever heard. The question, of course, is whether it's worth it. The Polk bar above costs about $1,000, and less expensive options like the Zvox 325 ($299) are also available that do a solid job of simulating surround.

Then there's the myriad true surround systems out there with actual rear speakers--although they're not direct competitors to Unisen, since the biggest benefit of simulated surround is lack of rear speakers, wires, etc.

Mitsubishi's three series of Unisen models include 40-, 46-, and 52-inch sizes, and the least expensive, the 40-inch LT-40151, costs a suggested retail price of $1,799. Compared with competing 120Hz LCDs, like Samsung's LN40B650 ($1699) or Sony's KDL-40V5100 ($1499), that's not a massive premium.

On the surface, Mitsubishi's new sets look pretty appealing for people who want better sound from their TVs, and perhaps the company's picture quality has improved over last year's models, such as the LT-46148. We'll know more when we can get one in for review.

All of Mitsubishi's Unisen models will be available in May. Pricing and step-up details follow.

  • Mitsubishi LT-151 series, entry-level with 120Hz with dejudder processing, subwoofer output, Advanced Video Calibration system, thin bezel
    • 40-inch LT-40151 ($1,799 MSRP)
    • 46-inch LT-46151 ($2,199)
    • 52-inch LT-52151 ($2,599)
  • Mitsubishi LT-153 series, step-up adds 10-step variable dejudder, NetCommand system, PerfectTint adjustment
    • 40-inch LT-40153 ($1,999)
    • 46-inch LT-46153 ($2,399)
    • 52-inch LT-52153 ($2,899)
  • Mitsubishi LT-249 series, flagship line adds InternetMedia readiness, ISF adjustments, dual-driver extended-range sound
    • 46-inch LT-46249 ($2,799)
    • 52-inch LT-52249 ($3,299)
 

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