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Mitsubishi keeps DLP alive with 2009 models

Rear-projection DLP-based HDTVs may be losing ground to large-screen flat-panel displays, but Mitsubishi released new lineup of gigantic sets anyway.

Mitsubishi's new DLP sets include a 60-incher for $1499. Mitsubishi

Rear-projection HDTVs have been waning in popularity with the waxing of flat-panel plasmas and LCDs, but Mitsubishi's new lineup of DLP models proves that the technology will be available in stores for at least another year.

In 2008, Samsung and Mitsubishi were the only two companies selling rear-projection behemoths and, due to lack of demand, we only reviewed one model from each company: the Samsung HL61A750 and the Mitsubishi WD-65735.

The LED-powered Samsung was clearly better, but that company has not announced any new DLP models for 2009, although it will continue to sell its 2008 models. I asked Samsung's reps last week about the company's DLP plans but they refused to provide any information, and I have a hunch they won't announce any new models this year, or ever.

That leaves the market for gigantic-screen HDTVs wide open for Mitsubishi. DLP-based models are generally less expensive and more efficient than LCDs or plasmas of a similar screen size, and despite sagging sales, rear-projection may still have legs, especially in a down economy. Mitsubishi's betting it does, and the price is right. It's least expensive 2009 model, the 60-inch WD-60737, lists at $1,500--the same as the 61-inch Samsung commands at Best Buy today and a lot less than any plasma or LCD in that size range.

Mitsubishi announced two new series of big screens, starting at 60 inches and going up to a new size peak: a colossal 82 inches. It pushes the "3D ready" nature of these sets but in reality you probably won't use the 3D function: it requires compatible source devices, which do not include current game consoles, DVD or Blu-ray players.

Unlike Samsung, Mitsubishi does not offer a DLP line with an LED light source. The UHP bulbs Mitsubishi uses on these models must be replaced every few years depending on use, and can cause the rainbow effect for certain sensitive viewers.

Feature highlights for the baseline 737 series include so-called "Advanced Video Calibration," Smooth120Hz processing designed for 1080p/24 sources (although it lacks dejudder processing), the PerfectColor adjustment and an improved user interface, while the step-up 837 series gets ISF advanced video adjustments, PerfectTint and the NetCommand system, which allows the TV to control AV gear via an on-screen menu. Perhaps the new adjustments will allow the sets to overcome the color accuracy problems we saw on previous Mitsubishi models.

Mitsubishi also assured folks with lots of disposable income that it would continue to produce its LaserVue models. In addition to the new DLPs, it announced a lineup of flat-panel LCDs with improved audio.

All of the new Mitsubishi DLP sets are available now. Pricing details follow, and we'll have full reviews as soon as possible.