Rear Projection TV Reviews
Are you thinking of going big, really BIG? Despite the latest 65" plasma and LED TVs, nothing beats a rear projection TV as an immediate, more affordable no mess, no fuss solution to a massive TV screen.
Massive because RPTVs go up to 82-inch; that's four times the screen area of a small 42-inch plasma or LCD TV!
If you have the necessary floor space, unpack one of these 'big' boxes and you are ready for your big screen TV entertainment.
Many think rear projection TVs are dead, but these are in for a surprise. A recent report by Quixel Research shows that between Q4 2009 and end Q1 2010, RPTVs amounted to 3% of all big screen TV sales in the US.
You see, for those who know, RPTVs still have a lot to offer in picture performance and overall value.
Rear Projection TV Reviews:
Information covered in this article:
Rear projection TV Reviews - Article Index:
Introduction: Is rear projection still the way to go for big screen TV entertainment in the home?
Rear projection HDTVs for 2010
Rear Projection TV Reviews appearing on PHTG: Links to archived rear projection TV reviews published on this site.
Home Theater Design
Quick guide on how to build your Home Theater.
by Duncan McClelland
OK, there remains just one TV maker in the market, Mitsubishi. But Mitsubishi has been consistent in delivering a most advanced line of DLP RPTVs. For 2010, Mitsubishi is offering 14 different DLP models, all of which come as 3D 1080p HDTVs.
The 1080p HDTV resolution is not just a matter of trend. 1080p was made for the big screen and a big screen rear-projector TV is a great way to enjoy it. RPTV sizes start at 60-inch, going up to a massive 82-inch! And at 82-inch, these still come cheaper than most 60-inch plus plasma and LED LCD TVs.
In this article, we first discuss the rear projection TV market versus other TV display technologies to see if it is still worth investing in rear projection at a time when the industry is actively pushing the more expense LED LCD TVs.
We then look at available rear projection TV options for your big screen TV entertainment.
Towards end of 2008, market analysts predicted that 2009 would probably be the last year for rear projection HDTVs. We had argued it would be truly unfortunate if this were to happen as rear projection had still a lot to offer in terms of picture quality without breaking one's bank account.
One may say this holds true as long as you would not opt for one of Mitsubishi laser-powered rear projection HDTVs; the latest follow-up to the successful LaserVue 65-inch L65A90 released in late 2008, the 75-inch Mitsubishi LaserVue L75A91, is selling online at $6,000 - more expensive than the most expensive flagship from Panasonic, the 65-inch TC-P65VT25 but...
The Mitsubishi LaserVue utilized the most advanced rear projection TV technology based on a three-colored laser light engine while doing away with the traditional color wheel. The result is unsurpassed color performance. When HDGuru published his review of the 65-inch L65A90, he stated that the Mitsubishi LaserVue is capable of delivering superior overall performance to any HDTV on the market at the time of the review. And rear projection TV reviews submitted by the few lucky owners at major stores of the latest Mitsubishi LaserVue are all impressed with the superior picture quality of these DLP HDTVs.
We do not think so! As long as there is a major TV maker backing the technology, RPTVs will continue to sell - at least till an alternative display technology is available that can provide 70-inch and 80-inch plus HDTVs for the home market at an affordable price. You see, for informed buyers looking for that 'extra big' big screen TV, rear projection offers a great picture straight out of the box at a price that is cheaper than 65-inch flat-panel HDTVs.
Just take the latest 3D 60-inch plus plasma TVs from Samsung and Panasonic; the Samsung 63-inch PN63C8000 is selling at around $3,500 while its Panasonic equivalent, the 65-inch TC-P65VT25 is selling at close to $5,000. Instead, the Mitsubishi premium DLP equivalent, the 65-inch WD-65838 3D 1080p HDTV is selling online for under $2,150 while the largest in the series, the 82-inch WD-82838 is selling at under $3,700, practically the same as a 60-inch plasma TV. And the 838 series referred to here is among the most expensive within the present Mitsubishi lineup. At the cheaper price bracket, the step-up Mitsubishi 65-inch WD-65738 is selling at $1,600 - and this is still a 3D-ready 1080p HDTV!
Some may say that these are not as slim as the latest plasma and LED LCD TVs. But with most of today's flat-panel TV mounted on the provide table-top stand, the slimness advantage of plasma and LCD/LED TVs soon fades away; you see, 65-inch Mitsubishi DLP rear projection TVs are no more than 16-inch deep.
In addition, if you want an out-of-the-box big screen TV solution that is larger than 65-inch, rear projection is the only present TV display technology that delivers. In other words, there is still a segment of the home HDTV market which is not yet catered for by either plasma or LED/LCD technology.
First of all, we believe the present difficult economic times may very well help rear projection survive longer than expected as a larger number of those in the market for a 60-inch plus big screen TV are ready to give up the slim advantage of flat panel TVs in favor of the slightly bulkier but cheaper RPTVs.
For the informed buyer who wants to make the most out of available budget, this is the best way to go especially when considering the solid picture performance of present-day RPTVs. This apart that for anything bigger than 65-inch, a rear projection TV is your only way forward to an out-of-the-box TV solution.
In addition, Mitsubishi's continued investment in DLP rear projection TV technology seems to impart the message that this TV giant intends to remain in the rear projection TV business for the years to come.
In other words... there is no reason why you should not consider a large rear projection HDTV as an inexpensive option to a big-screen premium-quality HDTV.
We say premium quality because many things have changed since the days when the big box TV was the supreme king in home entertainment.
But rear projection TVs did not only get slimmer. Developments in digital projection technology led to brighter, larger, and sharper images, while the much dreaded rainbow effect has become a non-issue thanks to the use of more color segments on the color wheel and higher spinning rates.
Samsung went a step further though and opted for LED light technology in its LED DLP rear projection TVs way back in 2008 to replace the traditional lamp color wheel set-up in DLP HDTVs. This not only eliminated any possible rainbow effect to those few 'extra' sensitive viewers but also led to rear projection HDTVs with lower power consumption, faster startup times, and even more important, extended lifetime of the LED light pack. The result is a lower cost of ownership since these Samsung LED DLP TVs do not require any lamp changes during the expected lifetime of the set. This contrasts with standard lamp-based DLPs which require a typically $100 lamp replacement every few thousand hours.
Mitsubishi instead opted to continue using the traditional lamp in its DLP line for a reduced upfront cost; Samsung LED DLPs turned out to be more expensive when originally released in 2007/2008. But in the case of Mitsubishi, there is possibly an even more important technical reason for the continued use of the traditional lamp in their RPTVs, and that is the larger screen size - requiring an even more lamp power to produce a bright enough image. You would need lots of LED power to light an 82-inch rear projection TV screen!
A film-like image: 1080p DLPs use the TI 0.65-inch DMD chip, which comes with 960 x 1080 micro-mirrors. The full 1080p image is generated through wobulation. Mitsubishi uses the terms 120Hz sub-frame rate and Smooth Picture instead of wobulation as it makes use of Texas Instruments (TI) SmoothPicture algorithm to generate the full 1080p 60Hz image from the DLP chip. A small optical actuator offsets (wobulate) the 960 x 1080 pixel image by ½ pixel 120 times a second to create the full 1080p 60Hz image. The ½ pixel displacement helps soften the pixel edges for a seamless more film-like image with no visible pixel structure as instead is the case with plasmas and LCDs.
Superior 3D performance: As with most DLP TVs released since 2007/2008, all Mitsubishi RPTVs for 2010 - including entry-level series - come as 3D TVs or as 3D-ready when used with a compatible Mitsubishi 3D shutter glasses. 3D-ready models require the optional 3DA-1 Mitsubishi converter in addition to the compatible 3D shutter glasses to transform the 3D source into the DLP® HDTV 3-D format supported by DLP rear projection HDTVs. The latter combines the left and right images into a single frame, thus supporting a resolution of 960 x 1080 pixels per eye, the same as in 3D broadcast over cable or satellite.
Rear projection has its disadvantageous as well. Apart from their bulkier size, cold start-up times can be frustrating with newcomers to RPTVs. The latest Mitsubishi DLPs exhibit an average cold start-up time of 25 seconds.
RPTVs lose brightness and picture fidelity when seen from off-angle. This is basically the same as with the latest more expensive LED LCD TVs; rather, the latter suffer even more from this issue.
As stated in our introduction, Mitsubishi is the only TV brand still in the RPTV market. RPTV sizes start at 60-inch with the Mitsubishi C10 and the WD-638 series rear projection HDTVs though the most popular sizes are the larger 65-inch WD-65638 and the 73-inch WD-73638 HDTVs. Yet, if you have got the necessary space, 82-inch rear projection HDTVs are also readily available.
It is at these large screen sizes that the rear projection TV advantage really starts to kick in. Entry-level 1080p plasma TV equivalents from Samsung (63-inch PN63C550) and Panasonic (65-inch TC-P65S2) are selling at around $2,200. That's approximately twice as much the 65-inch C10 and 65-inch WD-65638 entry-level Mitsubishi rear projection HDTVs, this despite that these Mitsubishi DLP TVs come as 3D-ready HDTVs.
It is therefore more than obvious that at these prices, if you are after a large-screen TV, rear projection gives you the biggest screen size for your money and a great HDTV picture irrespective of display technology.
Still, a rear projection TV purchase should not be taken lightly; in absolute terms, these large screen HDTVs still represent a substantial investment. We therefore hope that you will find the rear projection TV reviews appearing under this section of some assistance in your selection process.
The latest Mitsubishi rear projection TV lineup covers a total of fourteen different models spread over 5 series, C10, 638, 738, 838, and the LaserVue A91. All except the A91 are 'traditional' lamp-based DLP rear projection HDTVs, while the LaserVue flagship series uses a three-colored laser light engine for a superior picture performance.
The C10 and the 638 are Mitsubishi entry-level series; each covers three screen sizes, 60", 65", and 73". Both series are 3D-ready and share the same very limited feature set in particular with respect to user-adjustable picture settings.
Things start to get more interesting with the step-up 738 and premium 838 series HDTVs. These come as 3D TVs in that with the appropriate firmware, they can handle 3D without the use of the Mitsubishi adapter; but you still need the 3D glasses. These are the series that include the 82-inch models.
The step up 738 series adds StreamTV Internet Media, is wireless Internet ready through the optional adapter, and come with improved video processing, advanced video calibration, and a universal TV remote control.
The premium 838 series adds virtual surround sound technology via these sets 16-speaker soundbar, 32W total audio power, Bluetooth audio streaming, center channel mode, surround pre-amp and variable subwoofer outputs, Dark Detail Enhancer, PerfectColor and PerfecTint Color Management, ISFccc advanced video adjustments, an extra HDMI for a total of four, NetCommand remote, a wired IR input and USB supporting photos and music.
Further up the Mitsubishi lineup for 2010, one finds the Mitsubishi LaserVue A91 with its single model, the 75-inch LaserVue L75A91.
This set shares almost the same feature set of the 838 series but at just 15-inches deep, is somewhat slimmer. It replaces the lamp-based light engine with Mitsubishi exclusive three color laser light system. This brings with it a number of advantages over traditional lamp-based sets, including reduced power, a brighter picture, and superior picture performance that is among the best irrespective of display technology.
We discuss each of the Mitsubishi DLP HDTV series in detail in our 2010 Mitsubishi DLP rear projection TV review article here.
Up to 2008, the rear projection HDTV market was still Samsung versus Mitsubishi. Samsung is no longer in the game but one can still find a few remaining Samsung DLP HDTVs - often at a significantly reduced price - that are worth considering as a big screen TV solution for your home entertainment.
In particular, Samsung LED DLP HDTVs offer an important advantage over the traditional lamp-based sets. Apart from important picture performance advantageous such as the generally more accurate colors, LED DLPs support lower power consumption, faster startup times, and equally important, extended lifetime of the LED light pack. Samsung quotes 60,000hrs for its third generation LED rear projection TV sets. This results in a lower cost of ownership as these sets do not require any lamp changes for the whole duration of their expected lifetime. This contrasts heavily with standard UHP/HID lamp-based DLPs which require a typically $100 lamp replacement every 4,000 to 6,000 hours.
Samsung HDTVs generally offer a comprehensive array of features and connectivity options, affordability, and excellent picture performance. In this respect, Samsung Series 6 and Series 7 DLP TVs are no exception. These sets were extremely popular with many home theater enthusiasts when initially released in 2008, and have been favorably rated in many rear projection TV reviews submitted by both consumers and professionals.
Samsung 61" HL61A650 DLP TV
Like the Mitsubishi, Samsung Series 6 DLP HDTVs come as 3D-HD ready. The series comprises four DLPs but with the latest pricing of plasma and LCD/LED TVs, the screen sizes worth considering are the 61" HL61A650 and the 72" HL-72A650.
Housed in a slim cabinet, the new Series 6 DLP HDTVs feature a narrow bezel and hidden speakers with a rather aesthetically pleasing design.
These sets also come with extended connectivity - including Samsung's Wiselink USB2.0 port and three HDMI Ver. 1.3 with CEC support.
Samsung Series 7 LED DLP HDTVs represent Samsung flagship RPTVs.
Series 7 represents the third generation of Samsung LED DLP TVs. It continues to build up on the already successful 2007 line of 3D-ready HL-T87S LED DLP TVs we reviewed on our site.
Samsung Series 7 LED DLP TVs come with the Cinema Pure Color Engine; the latter is powered by the long-lasting Generation 2.4 LED light source; rated at 60,000hrs, you would not need any lamp replacements for the expected lifetime of the HDTV.
This Samsung LED light source is based on PhlatLight LEDs by Luminus Device Inc. It is capable of 40% improved brightness - even at the larger 67-inch size, and uses 230W; not as efficient as the Mitsubishi LaserVue but it still represents typically half the power consumption of a 65-inch plasma HDTV equivalent.
Mitsubishi DLP HDTVs for 2010
Discussing the new lineup of affordable Mitsubishi lamp-based DLP rear projection TVs for 2010, as well as the latest expensive Mitsubishi LaserVue 75A91 75-inch flagship HDTV.
2008 Rear Projection TV Reviews
2007 Rear Projection TV Roundup
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Mitsubishi Rear Projection TV Reviews
Panasonic Rear Projection TV Reviews:
Review at Topreviewshop.com: Panasonic PT-61LCX65
Samsung Rear Projection TV Reviews:
Sony Rear Projection TV Reviews:
Toshiba Rear Projection TV Reviews:
We hope that the rear projection TV reviews appearing under this section will be of some assistance in your selection process. However, before taking any decision, we advise to do some research of your own - in particular, look at what other customers had to say about their rear projection TV purchase with respect to quality, functionality, customer support, etc.
A good starting point is the customer feedback posted on the amazon website. Just visit the respective rear projection TV product page at amazon.com and then follow through the 'Customers Reviews' on the same webpage.
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Join our discussion and express your opinion on the latest DLP TVs here.
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For more information, please check our Guide to HT Set-Up DVDs.
What about a refurbished HDTV as an inexpensive big screen TV option?
A possible alternative when looking for an inexpensive big screen TV is to consider buying refurbished electronics. Refurbished does not mean you are getting something less in terms of product performance. Rather, buying a refurbished HDTV offers you the possibility of getting what practically is a new product, at a substantial discount.
It is not possible in this rear projection TV review to propose specific refurbished products since when it comes to refurbished electronics, inventory changes fast. However...
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References used in this article:
Mitsubishi website for the latest technical specs and product manuals.
USA Large Area Display Report by Portland, Oregon-based Quixel Research, dated May 12, 2010.
For information on how we compile our product reviews, please click here.
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