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Mitsubishi WS-315 review: Mitsubishi WS-315

Mitsubishi WS-315

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David Katzmaier
David_Katzmaier.jpg

David Katzmaier

Editorial Director -- TVs and streaming

David has reviewed TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home entertainment gear at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

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5 min read

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.

7.0

Mitsubishi WS-315

The Good

Relatively inexpensive; able to display inky blacks; adjustable color decoder; three component-video inputs; versatile picture-in-picture.

The Bad

Requires extensive adjustment for an optimal picture; poor off-axis viewing; somewhat soft HD picture quality; big and bulky; cannot accept 720p images.

The Bottom Line

This big screen has the flaws typical of tubes, but for the price, it delivers a large viewing area and decent picture quality.
Mitsubishi WS-55315
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.

If a 55-inch screen isn't good for your room and seating distance, Mitsubishi also offers its least-expensive 315 models in 42-, 48-, and 65-inch sizes.

As a tube-based projection television, the WS-55315 does not have a native resolution based on a pixel count. Instead, the company lists the set's native resolution at 1080i for high-def--all incoming 1080i sources are passed on without conversion--and 480p for all other sources, including DVD and standard TV. Unlike many microdisplay sets, the WS-55315 is not designed to accept computer signals.

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.

TEST RESULT SCORE
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
Overscan 5% 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

7.0

Mitsubishi WS-315

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7
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