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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).
The set's connectivity is commendable, especially for an entry-level HDTV. On the back panel, Mitsubishi provides three wideband component-video inputs (the third can also accept RGB-HV signals), two A/V inputs with S-Video, two RF inputs, and a DVI input. Also on the back are a monitor composite-video A/V output and an RS-232C serial port for connection to external control devices. An extra A/V input is on the front.The WS-55315's image quality is generally good for a set in this price range. Our favorite feature is the adjustable color decoder, which allowed us to get the color balance nearly perfect. Before the fix, out-of-the-box color was exceedingly red; a redheaded young lady we saw on Discovery HD's promo spot had unrealistically ruddy skin. After our calibration, her skin appeared delicate and lifelike, and her hair looked natural instead of punk-rock red.
Like all CRT-based projection televisions, the WS-55315 requires some maintenance to produce its best picture. Aside from the color decoder and the grayscale calibration, we also had to fix the convergence (alignment of the three CRTs to eliminate blue and red fringing) and tweak the geometry to get straight lines. Even afterward, the picture didn't seem as sharp as that of the LCD-based Sony KDF-50WE655 we compared it to. It also had a much more noticeable hot spot (brighter area in the middle of the screen), less-consistent color and brightness across the screen, and a narrower viewing angle; sitting more than a few degrees to the screen's left or the right edge caused brightness to decrease dramatically. Again, these issues are common to all CRT big screens, and in the case of viewing angle, the Mitsubishi seemed a bit better than some models we've seen.
It also shared with other tube-based sets the ability to reproduce dark scenes just as well as bright ones. We dimmed the lights and put in Alien, and the deep, inky black of space was quite satisfying. In our darkened room, the KDF-50WE655 appeared significantly lighter by comparison, which lent the pans across the darkened spaceship halls a more washed-out quality. Showing dark scenes with the lights off, the Mitsubishi was in its element. One nitpick: the set's mediocre DC restoration--how well the television is able to maintain a consistent color of black regardless of the brightness of the rest of the image--prevented us from getting an even inkier black.
Returning to high-def, we watched the end of a preseason NBA matchup on TNT-HD. Here the Mitsubishi appeared distinctly less impressive than the Sony. The edges of text on players' jerseys looked a bit softer, the graphics were a bit less stable (especially on paused screens), and we saw a bit more video noise--which looked like a faint veil of fine snow--on the backs of the seats. The difference in black level was also much less noticeable inside the well-lit arena. Tests using the Accupel HDTV signal generator showed that the Mitsubishi's 1080i image was indeed less detailed than that of either the KDF-50WE655 or the KD-34XBR960.
|Before color temp (30/80)||8,052/5,998K||Poor|
|After color temp (30/80)||6,502/6,495K||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 681K||Average|
|After grayscale variation||+/- 248K||Average|
|Color decoder error: red||20% (0%)||Poor|
|Color decoder error: green||-5% (0%)||Good|
|DC restoration||Gray pattern visible||Average|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Y||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|