The Great 1080p HDTV Face Off HP MD6580n
The one with the 1080p input.
Technically, the HP wasn't part of the Face Off. I had hoped to get the MD5880n, which is right at the price point for this Face Off. Due to a delay in shipping on that unit, we had to get the 65-inch instead. I couldn't in good conscience include a set that cost almost $1,000 more than the average price of the other displays in the Face Off. Because the judges wouldn't know the cost until the end, I left the TV in and let them judge its performance anyway but left it out of the rankings.
It turns out that the HP has a few strengths and a few weaknesses. Its strongest selling point is that it is the only set in the Face Off that accepts a 1080p signal through HDMI or component video. That the others don't is shameful on their part. Its color points were on the better side of average. It also had the lowest black level and the second highest contrast ratio, most likely thanks to its larger screen area.
The MD6580n's biggest issue with the 480i portion of the test was an extremely slow 3:2 pickup. On all of the synthetic tests, including the clip from Gladiator, it didn't seem like it picked up the 3:2 sequence at all. The tally sheets were rife with negative comments about this. With actual video material, the jagged edges weren't apparent, indicating that it eventually picked up the 3:2 sequence.
Most of the reviewers felt that the image was fairly noisy, but that wasn't the biggest issue they had with the MD6580n. Everyone thought the image was soft. At first, I attributed this to its larger size. But the Toshiba, which was only 3 inches smaller diagonally, had many compliments on how detailed it looked. So a good scaling DVD player is a must with this set. Increasing the sharpness control yielded some extra detail, but it also added some edge enhancement and a little noise.
The remote is laid out a little strangely, but it has all the buttons you need. John felt that the remote was better suited for lefties, which was a positive in his book. Adrienne didn't like the black buttons on a black background without backlighting, but she liked that they were trying for a different look for a remote. She really liked the input menu that breaks up the screen into squares and shows what is playing on each input. I'd like to give HP two points for putting a light on their input panel and subtract one point for placing the entire input panel on the front of the TV. I don't see how that makes anything easier, but maybe I'm in the minority there.
As I'm sure you're all curious, native 1080p looks great. If your computer/video card is fast enough and you have the right game, 65-inch 1,920 by 1,080 gaming is something to behold. This level of resolution in gaming is downright impressive. The Studio picture mode is also cool. It turns off all but the most basic of processing, allowing (for better or worse) the image to pass through unmolested. With this TV's contrast ratio, along with its decently accurate color points, it's a solid choice for the HTPC gamer.
• Accepts 1080p on HDMI, component, and RGB
• RGB, component, and HDMI accept 1080p!
• The whole 1080p input thing, and a great black level
At A Glance: HP MD6580n Rear-projection HDTV
Video: HDMI (2), RGB D-Sub 15 (1), component video (2), S-video (3), composite video (3)
Audio: Analog stereo (6), stereo miniplug (1)
Audio: Coaxial (1), analog stereo (1)
Additional: USB (1), CableCARD (1), RF (2)
Screen Size (diagonal): 65 inches
Native Resolution: 1,920 by 1,080
Lamp Life: 6,000 hours to half brightness
Dimensions (H x W x D, inches): 41 x 66.5 x 20.2
Weight (pounds): 133
Ratings: HP MD6580n Rear-Projection HDTV
Build Quality: 87
Overall Rating: 88
MD6580n Rear-Projection HDTV, $5,000
Dealer Locator Code HP
HT Labs Measures: HP MD6580n Rear-Projection HDTV
Full-On/Full-Off Contrast Ratio—6960:1;
ANSI Contrast Ratio—410:1
Measured Resolution with the Leader LT-446:
480: 470 (per picture height)
720p: 720 (pph)
1080i: 1080 (pph)
DC Restoration (poor, average, good, excellent): Excellent
Color Decoder (poor, average, good, excellent): Good
Measured Color Points:
Red Color Point: x=0.639, y=0.322
Green Color Point: x=0.285, y=0.612
Blue Color Point: x=0.154, y=0.059
The left chart shows the MD6580n's gray scale relative to its color temperature at various levels of intensity, or brightness (20 IRE is dark gray; 100 IRE is bright white). The gray scale as set by the factory, in the warm color-temperature mode measures warm across the gray scale. After making adjustments using the Photo Research PR-650, the gray scale measures much better, within 199 Kelvin of D6500, the accurate color temperature, across most of the range. The darkest images were still slightly warm.
The right chart shows the gray scale (or color temperature) relative to the color points of the display's red, green, and blue color-filter-wheel segments. These are somewhat close to those specified by SMPTE. Red is very slightly purplish-red. Blue is very slightly undersaturated. Green is very slightly oversaturated and slightly bluish-green.
After calibration, and using a full-field 100-IRE white (104.4 foot-lamberts) and a full-field 0-IRE black (0.015 ft-L), the contrast ratio was 6,960:1. Using a 16-box checkerboard pattern (ANSI contrast), the contrast ratio was 410:1.—GM