In the world of big-screen HDTVs, the tube has recently taken a backseat to slimmer and sexier DLP-, LCD-, and LCoS-based microdisplays. Each technology has its strengths and weaknesses, but despite microdisplays' popularity in stores and the press, significantly less expensive big-screen HDTVs based on cathode ray tubes (CRTs) still outsell them. Mitsubishi's 55-inch WS-55315 is the company's entry-level CRT projection set, and you'll save a bundle if you can handle its bulk and picture-quality quirks. Unlike LCD and DLP microdisplay rear-projection televisions, which generally require a stand to get the picture up to eye level, the WS-55315 is a piece of furniture in its own right. It measures about 48.0 inches tall by 25.6 inches deep and weighs a hefty 215 pounds. It is significantly larger than typical microdisplays with similar screen sizes. Its understated gray-on-gray styling won't grab attention, but it will help the set blend into darkened home theaters.
While higher-end Mitsubishi models such as the WD-52525 have graphics-heavy, icon-driven menus, the text-based menu system inside the WS-55315 looks decidedly basic. Nonetheless, it's fairly easy to navigate and has most of the familiar options. The medium-size remote is a model of finger friendliness, although it took us a few minutes to get used to the off-center Enter key. The remote can control up to four other pieces of A/V gear and features backlighting for a couple of major keys.
While the Mitsubishi WS-55315 lacks a built-in HDTV tuner and is not digital cable ready, that's not a big deal if you plan on getting HD through your local cable or satellite provider. The set will display high-def when connected to an external HD source such as a cable or satellite box or an external over-the-air tuner. It is worth noting, however, that since the television cannot display a picture when fed 720p material, you must set your external HD source to output everything at 1080i.
In other respects, the 55315 is quite well equipped. Its picture-in-picture feature can display two same-size images side by side--including, surprisingly, two 1080i images from the component-video and DVI inputs. With standard-def sources, you can choose from among five aspect-ratio selections, while 1080i sources allow only two choices. Additional features include independent input memories, three selectable color temperatures, and a 64-point convergence adjustment to properly align the tubes. Environmentally conscious viewers will appreciate the Energy mode, which reduces the set's energy consumption while on standby (that is, turned off and waiting for a remote control to turn it on).