Mitsubishi is a pioneer in rear-projection, big-screen HDTVs. The WS-55513, which falls in the middle of the company's extensive 2003-04 RPTV line, is available online for the good price of around $2,100. This 55-inch wide-screen model offers a comprehensive feature package, reasonable postcalibration performance, and decent value for its class.
The dark-gray 513 won't win any beauty contests, but to be fair, it looks no worse than most of the other boxy behemoths in the CRT-based RPTV category. The front-panel A/V inputs are on the right-hand side, just below the screen.
The remote is the same universal clicker that has come with Mitsubishi's midline TVs for the past several years. We liked the buttons' logical arrangement and ample spacing, although small-handed users might have to stretch. Every key is backlit, and the control can command up to four other products. Mitsubishi's graphical onscreen menu system makes using the set's many functions a cinch, and we appreciated having the option to disable unused inputs.
The 513 is an integrated HDTV; it has built-in HDTV receivers for the ATSC (broadcast and off-air signals) and QAM (unscrambled digital cable) standards. If you have a suitable antenna or an unscrambled cable signal and HD broadcasts in your area, those onboard tuners will let you receive high-definition programming without any additional hardware.
One of the 513's most unique features is the NetCommand A/V control system. Its series of IR blasters lets you command your other A/V gear through an interface on the TV, so you can stash everything but the set out of sight. NetCommand worked well, but it can't replace a good universal remote.
The 513's connectivity options are quite comprehensive. The set sports three A/V inputs with S-Video (one on the front panel) and two component-video ins. One RGBHV hookup accepts HDTV sources. You also get three FireWire ports, one HDCP-equipped DVI jack, one A/V output, and two RF inputs.
Split-screen two-tuner PIP heads the list of convenience features. Also onboard are the now obligatory selectable color temperatures and aspect ratios. The front-panel Memory Stick, CompactFlash, SmartMedia, and SD/MMC slots give you the more exotic option of inserting a flash-memory card to display your digital camera's JPEG images or play MP3 and WMA music files. A 10-watt amplifier drives the set's two speakers, and a two-channel virtual-surround mode accommodates those who haven't yet hooked up a surround system.
The 513's internal video processing includes the all-important 2:3 pull-down, which helps produce flicker-free film-based material. A best-of-breed 3D-YC comb filter is onboard for composite-video sources such as VHS, laserdisc, and cable TV. And the Perfect Color feature lets you change the color decoder and tame the overabundance of red, called red push, that the set exhibits when you first turn it on. Finally, the User menu's 64-point convergence system maintains image sharpness.
Like most current RPTVs, the 513 delivers mediocre out-of-the-box performance. At the High color temperature, the grayscale was quite blue, measuring 13,600K at the bottom and 10,200K at the top. If your 513 won't be professionally calibrated, we recommend you use the Low color temperature, which comes closer to the 6,500K NTSC standard.
When we calibrated the TV, we chose the High setting because, unlike Low and Middle, it allows separate grayscale calibrations for NTSC and HDTV. After calibration, the set measured 6,300K at the bottom of the grayscale and 6,700K near the top. Unfortunately, the 513's gamma is bad, so the grayscale goes quite blue near black. And the overall tracking is not very good compared with that of most other sets on the market.
The color decoder exhibited severe red push, but we significantly improved the situation by decreasing the red level with the Perfect Color feature. You're supposed to be able to disengage scan-velocity modulation (SVM), that nasty edge-enhancement circuit, but turning it off in the User menu has no effect. A professional calibrator can shut off SVM entirely in the Service menu, but we'd like Mitsubishi to give this option to consumers.
After calibration, we watched some scenes from the DVD versions of Monsters, Inc. and The Professional. Color saturation and detail were much improved. Chapter 12 of The Professional came out pretty well, with natural skin tones. After we'd performed a separate calibration of the 513's HDTV input, high-def sources from the built-in HDTV receiver looked excellent.