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Perhaps the best value in big-screen HDTVs right now is in microdisplays, more commonly known as rear-projection TVs (RPTVs). As the category shrinks because of ever more popular and large flat-screen models using plasma and LCD technology, RPTV prices continue to drop.
There are always exceptions, however, such as the Mitsubishi WD-65833, which is one of the most expensive RPTVs on the market. With increasing competition as TV makers slash prices, this model is no bargain, considering what you get in terms of performance. Overall color fidelity suffers, mainly because of faulty color decoding and highly inaccurate red and green primary colors. Yes, the set has some good points, as well, including a solid feature set and attractive design, but they're outweighed by its picture quality shortcomings and higher price.
The WD-65833 is pretty sleek and sexy for a big box. The glossy black finish will appeal to many, though its tendency to reflect light can be distracting. A unique accent is provided by blue lighting on the front, which looks sort of like ground effects on a high-schooler's cruiser.
The stereo speakers located below the screen, rather than on the sides, help give it the appearance of having a relatively small footprint, an effect that's enhanced by the thin bezel around the top and sides of the screen. All told, the WD-65833 measures 58.2 inches by 39.5 inches by 16.1 inches, and it weighs 78.1 pounds.
The remote is a downsized design from earlier Mitsubishi models. Although we liked the red backlighting that appeared behind every key, we found ourselves wishing for a Return key when trying to navigate the menu system so we could go back a page at a time. To save time accessing the picture controls, you can hit the Video button, which takes you right to the picture control menu.
The Mitsubishi WD-65833 offers a decent selection of picture controls, starting with the usual picture modes, which include Brilliant, Bright, Natural, and Game, which are all independent per input. While most manufacturers offer at least three color temperature presets, this Mitsubishi has only two: Low, which provides the most accurate grayscale, and High, with an extremely blue grayscale.
The Perfect Color and Perfect Tint features are designed to improve color accuracy, but we didn't find them very helpful in practice. Perfect Color actually helps tame the severe red push that the color decoding exhibits at the factory settings, but it doesn't do much to help the problems with the green.
Perfect Tint gives you adjustments for all the primary and secondary colors for tint. Mitsubishi makes the only HDTVs we've seen, with a color management feature aimed at tint, which we find a little strange. We'd prefer to see accurate color decoding and primary colors so that we could simply set the normal color and tint controls, and be done with it. See performance for more details.
Speaking of color, the WD-65833 also offers the HDMI 1.3-associated features of Deep Color and xv Color, both of which, as usual, are not yet available from any of the HD sources we currently have. This set also has a version of the hottest new feature in TV, 120Hz processing, which is supposedly designed to eliminate the judder visible in some film-based material. This set also has 3D capability, but we were unable to test this feature, and it works only with compatible PCs, and requires an external kit and glasses.
The WD-65833's NetCommand system enables the TV to control other AV 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 clickers, and the learning process is quite painless. (Editors' Note: We did not test NetCommand with the WD-65833, trusting it to behave the same as it did during our earlier test of the Mitsubishi WD-65734, which follows.)
We set up our DirecTV HR20, for example, as the "satellite" device in about 5 minutes, and afterward, we were able to control it relatively seamlessly via the Mitsubishi's remote. There was a slight delay between each button press and the HR20's response (less than a second, but still noticeable) and, inconveniently, we couldn't repeatedly press a key in succession to move more quickly.
Some keys, like the Forward and Reverse Skip for the DVR, had to be assigned to smaller function keys on the Mitsubishi remote, and calling up the HR20's menu was an inconvenient process that involved getting to the input screen first, then pressing "menu" (you can instead dedicate a function key to the device menu, but that's less than intuitive). So the system could use some refinement, and it wasn't quite as satisfying to use as a good universal remote, but it does enable you to stash your gear out of sight and still control it.
Connectivity options are really generous on the WD-65833. a total of four HDMI 1.3 inputs are onboard, with three in the rear and one in the front. There are also a total of three component video inputs, two on the rear jack pack and one on the front. Two S-Video, two composite video, two FireWire, and two RF inputs round out the video connectivity of the WD-658333. Finally, there is also a coaxial digital-audio output, and an RS-232 control port for programming touch-panel remotes.
We were disappointed at the performance of this set, in most regards. Our biggest issues were with color fidelity because of the poor color decoding and highly inaccurate primary colors. The problems with red and green were really obvious, when compared directly with a Sony KDS-55A3000 SXRD set, which had extremely accurate primary colors. So for the same or less money, whether it be a Samsung DLP or a Sony SXRD set, you can get much better performance.
We did spend some time trying to improve primary colors with Perfect Tint, and those controls did help a little, especially with magenta and red. Green was impossible to improve much at all, however, and yellow was also quite inaccurate, despite our efforts.
Doing a proper job of tweaking primary colors requires expensive gear and a lot of time, and we'd strongly prefer Mitsubishi to simply get it right in the first place. For our complete darkened-room picture settings, click here or scroll down to Tips below the review.
The WD-65833's video processing also leaves a lot to be desired. Compared with the Sony, the Mitsubishi's picture appeared noisy, and engaging the Video Noise feature did not seem to address this issue much at all.
Furthermore, as we noticed on the WD-65734, a resolution chart showed that the highest-resolution areas were negatively affected by what appears to be keystone correction, a feature found on front-projection systems that we always advise people not to use, as it robs the display of resolution and introduces moirÃ© artifacts, as well.
Black-level performance was fine, for its part, but we expected deep blacks because we know the performance level of the current DLP chips from Texas Instruments to be quite good. The grayscale in the Low color temperature setting was quite close to the standard. In fact, this is the one area that Mitsubishi stands out in, relative to most of the competition. Unfortunately, the set's accurate grayscale cannot come close to making up for the combination of inaccurate decoding, and primary and secondary colors.
Moving on to program material, the awesome HD DVD transfer of Seabiscuit looked decent, though the excessively noisy video processing was noticeable in the scene where Jeff Bridges' wife shows him the jockey's uniform. That comes in Chapter 14, which is also a color torture test that contains all of the primary and secondary colors--most all of them at once--when the jockeys are getting ready at the starting gate. With this familiar scene, we found it quite easy to determine that the greenery surrounding the track looked completely wrong.
We also spent a lot of time looking at fast pans, which is where the set's 120Hz processing feature should make an improvement. One example came in the very beginning of The Departed, where the camera pans quickly over a counter of the Luncheonette. Compared with the Sony, the Mitsubishi's smooth 120Hz mode didn't seem to smooth out this motion at all; it appeared just as jerky as before in the same ways that 2:3 pull-down always seems to preserve judder.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6312/6611||Good|
|After color temp||N/A|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 198K||Good|
|After grayscale variation||N/A|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.676/0.304||Poor|
|Color of green||0.277/0.666||Poor|
|Color of blue||0.146/0.062||Good|
|Black-level retention||All patterns stable||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Y||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
|Mitsubishi WD-65833||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||225.22||223.71||N/A|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.12||0.12||N/A|
|Cost per year||$80.15||$69.85||N/A|
|Score (considering size)||Good|