Editors' Note 11-29-2007: This review has been updated and the rating lowered due to changes in the competitive marketplace, namely the review of the Sony KDS-55A3000.
As large-screen plasma displays become less and less expensive, the tried-and-true rear-projection HDTV becomes less and less appealing to Americans with lots of room and a penchant for gigantic images. At 65 inches, however, the Mitsubishi WD-65734 stands in a size class where plasma still breaks the bank. This DLP offers very similar features to the WD-65831 we reviewed last year, but it doesn't deliver quite the same level of performance or style. It still produces a commendable picture, however, and its excellent connectivity and redesigned NetCommand remote-control system will certainly find admirers among folks who demand all the bells and whistles.
We appreciate that Mitsubishi decided to make the exterior of the WD-65734 as understated as possible. Refreshingly, the set lacks the glossy black cabinet found on so many other HDTVs this year, and instead sports no-nonsense, dark-gray trim. The bezel around the screen is quite thin at just three-fourths of an inch along the top and sides, while below there's a wider section with the Mitsubishi logo. The speakers are hidden in narrow vents below the bezel, and below that you'll find a slightly wider, downward-angled pane into which is set a flip-down door that hides inputs and controls. The whole set measures 58.2 by 39.5 by 15.3 inches and weighs 76 pounds. Its depth is about average for the breed.
Mitsubishi's clicker has been redesigned from the flyswatter of yore. We liked the more manageable size and the red backlight behind every key, but we wish the new remote offered a few differently placed, strategically located keys. We found the staid grid of buttons difficult to get to know by feel.
The company has redesigned its menu system for this model, and although the new layout is a bit less attractive, we liked that it packed more information onto the screen at once. The main picture menu gives way to submenus for PerfectColor and PerfectTint, and while common picture parameters like contrast and brightness drop obediently to the bottom of the screen while being adjusted, the color and tint submenus annoyingly obscure the screen. The menu system also includes a very intimidating-looking setup screen for the set's Net Command remote interface (see Features for details).
Like most big-screen microdisplays sold today, the Mitsubishi WD-65734 offers a native resolution of 1080p, which translates to 1,920x1,080 pixels. This number perfectly matches the resolution of 1080i and 1080p HDTV sources, the highest available today. All other sources, including 720p HDTV, standard-def TV, DVD, and computers, are scaled to fit the pixels. As with all 1080p rear-projection DLPs, the chip inside the Mitsubishi arrives at that pixel count by way of a technology known as "wobulation," which effectively doubles the 960 physical mirrors on the horizontal axis to achieve 1,920 apparent pixels on the screen (and according to our resolution tests, it works in this case).
Mitsubishi offers a good number of picture adjustment options on the WD-65734. They start with three preset picture modes, all of which can be adjusted independently for each input. That's three independent picture-setting groups per input, offering plenty of flexibility for inveterate tweakers who want to set up, say, one mode for daylight, another for early evening, and another for pitch darkness. The Mitsubishi also has a set of picture parameters called "global" that includes a two position "lamp mode," a setting that introduces edge enhancement, a film mode that engages 2:3 pulldown detection, and three levels of noise reduction.
The WD-65734's NetCommand system enables the TV to control other AV devices using an included two-unit IR emitter--generally, you'll set it up to command a cable or satellite box and an AV receiver. This system can learn the commands of various clickers, and the learning process is quite painless. We set up our DirecTV HR20, for example, as the "satellite" device in about 5 minutes, and afterward we were able to control it relatively seamlessly via the Mitsubishi's remote. There was a slight delay between each button-press and the HR20's response (less than a second but still noticeable) and, inconveniently, we couldn't repeatedly press a key in succession to move more quickly. Some keys, like the forward and reverse skip for the DVR, had to be assigned to smaller function keys on the Mitsubishi's remote, and calling up the HR20's menu was an inconvenient process that involved getting to the input screen first, then pressing "menu" (you can instead dedicate a function key to the device menu, but that's less than intuitive). So the system could use some refinement and wasn't quite as satisfying to use as a good universal remote, but it does allow you to stash your gear out of sight and still control it.
Although the WD-65734, like most microdisplay rear-projection HDTVs, consumes far fewer watts-per-square-inch of screen than flat-panel displays, it still offers a couple of ways to reduce power use. There's a mode that allows you to choose between quick or slow start-up. Choosing slow reduces standby power consumption by about 9.5 watts, saving about $5 per year, and makes you wait 10 extra seconds for the TV's image to appear. You can also set the lamp mode to "standard" as opposed to "bright," which shaves 26 watts (about 10 percent) off the TV's average power when turned-on. See the Juice Box below, where the "Power Save" and "Calibrated" columns were measured with both of these power-saving modes engaged.
While the WD-65734's remote includes a "split" button, it's inactive; the set does not offer any kind of picture-in-picture function. It does include the ability to display JPEG photos stored on digital cameras or thumbdrives when connected to the front-panel USB port.
Speaking of ports, the Mitsubishi WD-65734 has a very well-endowed selection of connections. The back panel includes three HDMI inputs, two component-video inputs, two AV inputs with S-Video and composite video, and two RF inputs for cable and antenna sources. There's also a coaxial digital audio output for over-the-air tuner surround-sound sources, a monitor stereo analog output, and a stereo audio input in case you want to connect a DVI source to one of the HDMI jacks and still hear sound through the TV. Aside from the aforementioned USB port, the front-panel input bay includes a fourth HDMI input and a third component video input. The Mitsubishi lacks a VGA-style analog RGB input for computers, but usually you can connect a PC's DVI output to one of the HDMI inputs using the appropriate adapter.