Mitsubishi LT-249 series -- overview

At CNET, we never review the audio quality of a TV, because, frankly, it's usually terrible. As we said in our How We Test TVs page: "We believe that anyone who cares [about sound quality] would be better served investing in a separate audio system." However, Mitsubishi's LT-249 series is an LCD TV designed for people who do care about getting decent sound without having to fuss with an external audio system. Therefore, we tested the Mitsubishi's sound the same way we test other sound bar home theater systems.

What's the verdict? When paired with a subwoofer, the LT-249 can belt out audio as well as the smaller sound bars it resembles, which should sonically satisfy fuss-intolerant, decor-conscious buyers. The high-end Mitsubishi also has solid picture quality, although it won't match the better LED-powered LCDs and plasma TVs available in its price range. It also has a compelling suite of interactive features including Vudu and Pandora. However, this HDTV is all about the speaker; so if you don't mind paying more for better sound, the Mitsubishi LT-249 series deserves a place on your wall.

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Mitsubishi LT-249 series -- sound bar

The attached sound bar houses 16 forward-facing speakers.
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Mitsubishi LT-249 series -- speaker detail

A closeup of one of the inch-diameter drivers.
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Mitsubishi LT-249 series -- remote

Mitsubishi's remote is simply the worst we've ever used. It's a confusing jumble of same-size keys that surround a Tinker Bell-size cursor control that's all but unusable (unfortunately, operating the TV requires using it all the time, especially with interactive features). Its buttons blend together and are hard to tell apart by feel. Also, there's no dedicated key to switch aspect ratio. At least this version has red backlighting. You can use the remote to control up to four other pieces of gear, but you probably won't want to. A universal remote is almost a necessity with this TV, if only so you can put the horrendous included clicker away forever.
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Mitsubishi LT-249 series -- back panel inputs

The TV's back panel includes four HDMI jacks and two component-video connections, spread across two separate areas. The second bay is recessed for wall mounting.
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Mitsubishi LT-249 series -- side panel inputs

A side-panel bay includes a third component-video input that can also accept composite-video, but doesn't offer another HDMI jack.
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Mitsubishi LT-249 series -- LAN port

The recessed LAN port on the back panel enables connection to the Vudu service.
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Mitsubishi LT-249 series -- Vudu main page

Vudu delivers great video quality and plenty of first-run movies on a pay-per-view basis. The service also adds Pandora streaming, access to Flickr and Picasa online photo storage and more.
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Mitsubishi LT-249 series -- Vudu movie selection

First-run titles in Vudu's highest-quality HDX format cost $5.99 for a 24-hour rental (when they become available), and you can buy the standard-def version for $19.99. You'll also need a solid high-speed connection to take full advantage.
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Mitsubishi LT-249 series -- Global menu

A menu labeled "Global" contains options that apply to all inputs, including the Mitsubishi's adjustable dejudder.
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Mitsubishi LT-249 series -- main picture menu

The main picture menu is where you'll find the basic controls for the first three picture modes.
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Mitsubishi LT-249 series--advanced picture menu

The advanced picture menu offers numerous additional settings.
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Mitsubishi LT-249 series -- performance

The picture on the Mitsubishi LT-249 series was among the better examples of a standard-backlit LCD TV, with relatively deep black levels and mostly accurate color, although we certainly would have liked to see improved uniformity across the screen. Its sound quality was better than any TV we've reviewed, despite a weak surround effect and the need for a subwoofer. Overall it compared well with the better small sound bars we've tested.
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