Mitsubishi's 2002 HDTV-capable, rear-projection TVs are a tremendous improvement over the 2001 models. The 55-inch WS-55711 sits atop the company's Diamond series, and it's easily one of the best-performing big-screen TVs on the market. This wide-screen sparkler also has a ton of features and the most comprehensive connection bay that we've ever seen. Diamonds don't come cheap however, and the WS-55711 is no exception. Despite a jewel of a name and a glossy, dark-burl finish, the 55711 isn't going to wow anyone with its looks. Like many RPTVs, this Mitsubishi is essentially a big box that has a screen on the top half and a speaker grille below that. The front-panel A/V inputs are hidden by a flip-down door; to the left of that are some exposed buttons for TV control.
The medium-sized remote is well arranged and easy to use. Thankfully, some of the keys are backlit. The remote is also universal and capable of controlling four other A/V components. The WS-55711 is an integrated HDTV, meaning that it has a built-in HDTV tuner to receive over-the-air digital broadcasts, though you'll still need a separate box for satellite HDTV. Picture enhancements include 3:2 pull-down processing in the line-doubler, which reduces artifacts in images that originate from film (namely DVD movies); three different color temperatures; five selectable aspect ratios; and a 3D-YC comb filter for composite-video sources such as VHS.
Among the 55711's many conveniences is a two-tuner picture-in-picture mode, which has split-screen and multi-image features on selected inputs so that you can watch more than one program at once. Even better, the 55711 has a picture memory for contrast, brightness, and so on devoted to each input. This means that you can tweak the settings to get the best picture from each source, and the set will remember all your adjustments. Audio is covered by a 10-watt-per-channel amplifier that drives the stereo speakers; a simulated surround mode; and Level Sound, which limits peak volume from loud commercials.
The 55711 has the most complete jack pack of any HDTV that we've seen to date. On the rear panel, you'll find three FireWire ports for digital connection to HDTV receivers. Mitsubishi also promises to upgrade its HDTVs for compatibility with any near-future digital-video format for a reasonable fee.
Analog jacks include three component-video inputs, two of which will handle 1080i as well as 480i and 480p; four A/V inputs with S-Video, composite-video, and stereo-audio inputs; one monitor output with both S-Video and composite video; one 15-pin VGA input for computer use (640x480 only); two RF inputs; one RF loop out; and a coaxial digital-audio output for the off-air HDTV decoder. There is also a set of front-panel A/V inputs with S-Video for convenient camcorder and/or video game hookup. Although we were eventually able to achieve excellent results through calibration, the 55711's initial performance was pretty poor. Its color decoder accentuates reds, something that we've noticed with all Mitsubishi sets. The newest models however, including the 53711, have color decoders that can be adjusted by a qualified technician. We applaud Mitsubishi for adding good-performing color-decoder adjustments in the service menu.
We were also pleasantly surprised that the Low color-temperature setting measured reasonably close to the standard of 6,500 degrees. We were able to achieve nearly perfect color temperature during calibration. We also had access to the service menu and successfully defeated the set's scan-velocity modulation, which introduces detrimental edge enhancement.
After calibration, the 55711 produced a fantastic picture. It was a pleasure watching scenes from Toy Story 2, one of our favorite reference DVDs. Color saturation was outstanding, and detail and clarity were excellent. We also used the opening scene of Star Trek: Insurrection--on a Denon DVD-1600 player set to interlaced mode--to check the set's line-doubler for 3:2 pull-down. The bridge railing, the canoes, and the rooftops were all rendered cleanly with no jaggy artifacts. Even so, we recommend that you use a good progressive-scan DVD player with this set, as it will produce a slightly sharper, cleaner picture.