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Longtime CNET readers may remember when we complained last year that Mitsubishi's 120Hz equipped LCDs lacked video processing to smooth out judder, and so didn't deserve the "Smooth" description that the company used in its product literature. This year its lineup, including the LT-46148, finally deserves the word, because now these models do include the dejudder processing designed to smooth out motion in film-based sources. This relatively expensive flat-panel LCD also has one of the most compact, all-picture designs we've ever seen. The bad news is that despite all that fancy processing, this set couldn't get the basics, namely black levels and color accuracy, quite right. Still, if you want to wedge as large a screen into as small a space as possible, you can't do much better than the Mitsubishi LT-46148.
Going back to Mitsubishi's LT-46144 from last year, the company has attempted to design the most-compact HDTV possible at a given screen size. The 46-inch LT-46148 takes that a step further, ringing the screen with an incredibly narrow bezel that measures even less than an inch thick on the top and sides. The area below the screen, with its strips of perforated plastic for the speakers, is also very thin compared with most flat-panel TVs. It's about 2.75 inches at its thickest point. The glossy black frame's thinness lends the TV a no-nonsense austerity when turned off, and makes it seem like almost all-picture when turned on.
Including the matching, black swivel stand, the LT-46148 measures just 42 inches by 28 inches by 10.9 inches and weighs 61.6 pounds. Without the stand, the panel measures 26.4 inches by 42 inches by 4.9 inches and weighs 61.1 pounds.
Mitsubishi didn't change its remote or its menu system from 2007. We liked the manageable size and the red backlight behind most of the important keys, but we wish the remote offered a few differently placed, strategically located keys. We found the staid grid of buttons difficult to get to know by feel. The menu might not be as slick as the system found on a Sony or a Samsung, but at least it packs a lot of information on the screen at once. The main picture menu gives way to a submenu for PerfectColor, and while common picture parameters such as contrast and brightness drop obediently to the bottom of the screen while being adjusted, the color submenu annoyingly obscures the screen. The menu system also includes a very intimidating-looking setup screen for the set's NetCommand remote interface (see Features for details).
New for this year, Mitsubishi has added dejudder processing to its 120Hz refresh rate. It's designed to smooth out the judder characteristic of film shot at 24 frames per second, like most with such mode, its effects depend on how much you like the smoothing. The 120Hz refresh rate also has the benefit of reducing blur in motion and allowing better compatibility with 1080p/24 signals. Fully Equipped has a few more details about 120Hz, and the Performance section below has all the gory details about Mitsubishi's implementation.
Like most LCDs these days, the LT-46148 has a native resolution of 1080p, the highest available today, although as usual the difference afforded by those extra pixels is nearly impossible to discern. Unlike last year's LT-46144, the 148 includes an aspect ratio mode, called "full native," that lets the set display every pixel of 1080 resolution sources without scaling or overscan. We recommend using this setting unless you notice interference along the extreme edges of the picture, which can occur on some channels. Mitsubishi includes three other modes for HD sources and six total for standard definition.
Other picture controls are relatively sparse on the LT-46148. We did appreciate that all three of the preset picture modes can be adjusted independently for each 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 dejudder controls, a film mode to engage 2:3 pull-down, and four levels of noise reduction.
The LT-46148 has the capability to fine-tune color balance via its PerfectColor controls, although it lacks the PerfectTint controls found on some other Mitsubishi models. The set also offers a pair of color temperature presets, of which "Low" came closest to the D6500 standard. Unfortunately it wasn't close enough that we didn't miss having the ability to fine-tune color temperature as well.
One feature unique to Mitsubishi is the NetCommand system, which enables the TV to control other audiovisual 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 remote controls and the learning process is quite painless. We didn't test this iteration of NetCommand, but if you're curious check out the review of the Mitsubishi WD-65734, where it performed relatively well.
While the LT-46148 lacks a power save mode designed to conserve energy while the TV is turned on, it can be set to consume less power when turned off, i.e. standby mode. According to our tests, it uses about 129.2 watts less with standby energy saver engaged, which works out to just about $90.96 per year. As a trade-off, the set takes about three seconds longer to warm up and turn on. See the Juice Box below for more power consumption details.
As usual for Mitsubishi, the LT-46148 boasts a good number of connections. Four HDMI inputs are available on the main input bay, which faces sideways along the spine of the TV. There are also two component-video inputs, an AV input with S-Video and composite video, two RF-style inputs for antenna and cable, a coaxial digital audio output, and a stereo analog audio out. There's also an easy-access side-panel input bay with a third component-video input, one of whose jacks can also accept composite video sources. A USB port for digital photo display is also on board.
The expensive LT-46148 failed to measure up to the better LCDs we've tested this year, exhibiting relatively lighter levels, less-accurate color and mediocre uniformity. Mitsubishi's first attempt at 120Hz dejudder processing has its issues, but it was generally free of some of the worst artifacts we've seen from other makers' similar modes.
Since the Mitsubishi lacks color temperature adjustments beyond the two presets, our standard calibration went a lot more quickly than usual. We would have loved to be able to tweak the Low color temperature preset, however, because it measured quite green, which adversely affected the set's color accuracy (in case you're wondering about the Good scores in the Geek Box below, sometimes a color temperature close to 6500K can still skew toward green). We tweaked the PerfectColor control to balance color decoding, although we still had to desaturate colors a bit to preserve skin tones. Check out our complete picture settings for all the details.
For our comparison and formal image quality tests we lined the LT-46148 up next to a few other 120Hz LCDs, including the Sony KDL-46W4100, the Samsung LN52A650, and the LN46A750, as well as the Panasonic TH-50PZ800U plasma.
Black level: In dark areas, the Mitsubishi didn't match the depth of black delivered by any of the other displays in our test. In the movie, I Am Legend, when Robert Neville chases his dog into the abandoned warehouse, for example, the darkness of the shadows along the walls wasn't as deep, taking some realism out of the scene. Even in lighter shots with some dark areas, such as the sunset-lit apartment as he readies for the evening, we noticed the lighter black levels. Details in shadows were relatively clear, such as the shaded wood grain of a cabinet inside his brownstone, but again the lighter blacks obscured them somewhat compared to the other displays.
Color accuracy: The Mitsubishi' greenish color temperature--technically, it's minus-blue and minus-red, but it amounts to the same thing--is its biggest liability. We noticed the green tint in skies and text and other whitish areas primarily, but it even showed up as a more-sickening cast to Robert's skin tone, and was quite egregious in one overhead shot of him curled up in the white bathtub with his dog.
As we mentioned, we did have to turn down the color control a bit to make skin tones and other delicate areas look their best, and in addition to the lighter black levels that helped make the Mitsubishi's colors appear less-saturated than the other displays. Primary and secondary color points were mostly accurate, however, with the exception of green and cyan, which contributed a too-blue look to grass and skies, respectively. As Robert tees off on the wing of the SR-71 Blackbird, for example, the overly-green-blue look of the sky was significantly less natural than on any of the other displays.
Video processing: Samsung and Sony is on their second generation of 120Hz dejudder processing while the LT-46148 represents Mitsubishi's first, and the company's inexperience shows. During slower motion, such as the helicopter flyover that follows Robert driving the red Mustang, the LT-46148 kept up with the other displays nicely, but when motion sped up we detected some unwelcome issues. The most bothersome was that the smoothing would kick in and out abruptly depending on how quick the camera moved. For example, as Neville leaves the brownstone in the morning the camera follows his gaze out over rundown Washington Square Park, and the whole frame's judder suddenly stops and becomes smooth as the pan slows. The same effect occurred as the camera follows the red Mustang around a corner; the abrupt "lock-in" wasn't nearly as obvious on the Samsung, and basically undetectable on the Sony.
Of course, we preferred once again to leave the dejudder processing turned off for the film, and for most other material we watched. As always, setting the Mitsubishi's dejudder to High caused the smoothing motion to look even less realistic--the in-car shots during the Mustang chase and later, when the Neville family is driving together, appeared particularly cartoonish in their steadiness, and when the smoothing was applied to the handheld camera following Neville stalking through the grass, we couldn't help but wonder how the director would react to such a steadying effect. In its favor, the Mitsubishi didn't introduce the "triple puck effect" during our hockey and football game test clips, and the halos around moving objects were kept at a minimum. Still, overall we preferred the look of the Samsung's smoothing modes and especially the Sony's, if we had to watch with smoothing engaged.
We also checked out how the Mitsubishi handled a 1080p/24 source by setting our PS3 in that mode and turning off the TV's Smooth 120 dejudder processing. The result was the best we'd seen so far from the set. Like the Sony and the Samsung, the 120Hz Mitsubishi displayed the 24-frame source faithfully, with standard film judder but without the characteristic extra hitching motion caused by the 2:3 pull-down process (which isn't necessary with 120Hz TVs displaying 24-frame content). Compared with the Panasonic, which we set at the standard 60Hz mode, the pan over the aircraft carrier, for example, looked more natural and smoother (in a good way!) on the 120Hz LCDs than on the Panasonic plasma. Of course, to most viewers the difference will be subtle, but for people with Blu-ray players who pay attention, it's worth it.
We also looked for blurring in motion using a test disc developed for that purpose, and like the other 120Hz LCDs, the Mitsubishi looked a good deal less blurry when its dejudder modes were engaged, and just as blurry as a standard LCD when we turned dejudder off. As usual, we had a difficult time detecting motion bur in standard program material.
We were disappointed to see that the Mitsubishi introduced edge enhancement that we couldn't remove without overly softening the picture. This showed up as too-crisp transitions between background and foreground, such as a close-up of Neville's gun, although it wasn't terribly offensive. Like most 1080p TVs we've tested, the set resolved every line of 1080 resolution sources in the zero-overscan aspect ratio setting, and failed the test for 1080i deinterlacing, although that failure was difficult to detect in program material.
Uniformity: The screen of the LT-46148 didn't display the same level of uniformity across its surface as our Sony and Samsung LCD review samples. In dark scenes we saw brighter patches in three of the four corners, which showed up in the letterbox bars, and a larger brighter patch in the upper left along the top of the screen. Off angle, the image also became washed out more quickly than the other LCDs.
Bright lighting: Like most matte-screen LCDs, the Mitsubishi did a fine job of attenuating in-room lighting, and compared with the shiny-screened Samsung, reflections during dark scenes especially appeared less distracting.
Standard-definition: Our tests categorized the LT-46148 as an average standard-definition performer. The set resolved every detail of the DVD format, and while details in the stone bridge and grass from our HQV test disc looked relatively sharp, we also noticed signs of edge enhancement. It failed to remove jaggies from the edges of moving diagonal lines, which caused stair-stepping artifacts to appear in the strips of a waving American flag, for example. Noise reduction was effective especially in the "High" setting at cleaning up moving motes in the disc's shots of skies and flowers, and 2:3 pull-down processing also engaged correctly.
PC: Via HDMI from a PCs DVI output, the Mitsubishi performed well, resolving every line of a 1,920x1,080 source with no overscan. Legibility of text, especially smaller font sizes, suffered somewhat because of the unremoveable edge enhancement, but it was still OK for larger sizes (12 point and up).
|Before color temp (20/80)||6618/6724||Good|
|After color temp||N/A|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 213||Good|
|After grayscale variation||N/A|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.628/0.327||Average|
|Color of green||0.27/0.62||Average|
|Color of blue||0.15/0.063||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||N||Poor|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Y||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Fail||Poor|
|Mitsubishi LT-46148||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||263.78||192.85|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.29||0.21|
|Cost per year||$95.73||$73.78|
|Score (considering size)||Average|