Mitsubishi LT-46144 LCD Flat Panel HDTV Page 2
Given a good HD source, the set was also crisply detailed. Yes, even at the zero setting of the Sharpness control there was a trace of white-line edge enhancement remaining on test patterns, but this was never obvious on real program material.
One of the best-looking Blu-ray Discs I have is a demo produced last year by Pioneer. Every bit of it looked strikingly good on the Mitsubishi. The detail was superb, the colors rich and believable, and the underlying black level more than sufficient to give the image a convincing sense of depth.
Two pressing issues with LCDs in general are motion blur and off-axis viewing. As it turned out, the 120Hz feature was not a complete cure; the recently reviewed 60Hz Sharp LC-52D64U did a better job—but only with its motion compensation features turned on. Some motion blur was clearly evident on both sets, but it was more easily visible on the Mitsubishi. But these torture tests are brutal at isolating this problem. In all of my viewing of normal program material on the Mitsubishi I was never distracted by motion blur.
The Mitsubishi can't completely escape LCD's typical off-axis viewing limitations, but it's better than most I've seen. The falloff in quality up to at least 45 degrees is not severe. The image remains very watchable at this angle. Most viewers will not notice the resulting degradation, visible as a slight loss of contrast.
The set's color uniformity was respectable for an LCD. I could see some slight discolorations if I looked hard enough on appropriate test patterns, but the black and white material I watched looked—appropriately—black and white.
But two problems intruded on the otherwise impressive performance of this set, one of them curable by a work-around, the other perhaps intractable.
The first of these was poor video processing from a 480i source to the set's native 1080p. It failed about half of the deinterlacing/scaling tests we typically use.
If you regularly use an upconverting DVD player, however, and use the upconversion in a set-top-box for standard definition television programming, this will not be an issue for you. But for such a high-end set Mitsubishi should be able to offer video processing at least as good as a two-year old Pioneer upconverting player!
On the plus side, however, the Mitsubishi's 1080i-to-1080p deinterlacing is good. Not great—it does not recognize 3:2 pulldown- but that's a limitation common to most of the sets I've tested.
The second problem is more troubling. On some scenes I saw a persistent flow of horizontal bands that moved rapidly from the bottom to the top of the screen. This "strobing" was subtle but once spotted could not be ignored. It was invisible on bright scenes and in very dark areas, but obvious on scenes of low-mid brightness in patches of solid color or gray. Complex foreground action rarely showed it, but backgrounds did. The strobing could also be seen clearly in medium gray test patterns.
The problem did not resemble hum bars, and I have not experienced it with any other set reviewed under the same circumstances. This included the Sharp LC-52D64U, which I was able to view side-by-side with the Mitsubishi on the same program material.
The strobing issue must temper my recommendation of this set. It's a problem that most users will see, and many may be mentally unable to tune out.
Which is unfortunate, since the Mitsubishi LT-46144 otherwise drew me in with its compelling performance. And while the best new plasmas I've tested can do somewhat better, particularly in producing black levels that no LCD I've yet seen can touch, those sets (particularly the new Pioneers) can cost more, raise concerns about burn-in—a non-issue with LCDs- and offer less brightness than a good LCD for those who feel the need for it.
The Mitsubishi comes closer than I ever expected from an LCD in providing a completely satisfying balance of black level and shadow detail, color, and resolution in one very appealing package.
This Mitsubishi has excellent resolution, good color out of the box, and impressive blacks and shadow detail for an LCD, but the horizontal strobing from bottom to top on mid-brightness images is too problematic for this set to earn a recommendation.