Mitsubishi LaserVue L65-A90: First Tech Review of LASER HDTV-HD GURU Exclusive

October 23rd, 2008 · 56 Comments · Laser HDTV, Product Reviews

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Key To Photos Top to Bottom: L65-A90 (front); L65-A90 (angle); Spectral Output LaserVue L65-A90; Spectral Output Samsung LCD LN-46A860;
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Overview

Laser illuminated HDTV has arrived, in the form of a 10” deep 65” display. It represents Mitsubishi’s effort to capture the top rung of home theater enthusiasts. For  $7000 retail price, the L65-A90’s will treat you to a level of performance that exceeds any display I have tested to date in terms color gamut, brightness and low power consumption. In addition, its black levels were as deep as the darkest display previously reviewed.  Complimenting the TV’s black level is its ability to resolve dark detail and not bury it (into black) as some other displays do.

Overall the L65A90 rates in the stratosphere of top displays, specifically the Pioneer Kuro Elite plasmas, the LED backlit Samsung 950 LCDs and the 65” Panasonic Premiere TH-65VX100.

Mitsubishi has announced it will sell additional models in the future, including a 73” in 2009. Lasers have been demonstrated by other companies for use in LCD flat panels and front projectors and while Mitsubishi remains hush-hush regarding other future products, after seeing the L65-A90, I have no doubt that we will be seeing a line of LaserVue HDTVs in the not to distant future.

Design

The L65-A90 is housed in an attractive high gloss black plastic cabinet, with a very thin (about ½ ”) bezel encompassing the top, left and right side of its 65” screen. The bottom contains the left right speakers, electronics and optics. The screen is a sandwich made up of at least four layers of material (Mitsubishi would not specify the exact number). They include a Fresnel lens specially designed to achieve the L65-A90’s 10.05-inch depth, a lenticular layer, a glass layer (it adds to screen rigidity) and a very effective anti-reflective top layer with a matte finish. The closed mouths at Mitsubishi wouldn’t reveal the details on how they shrunk the depth of the 65” projector, however previous Mitsubishi thin design commercial rear projectors used a convex mirror along with the special cut Fresnel lens to accomplish the reduction. The set’s dimensions are 57.7 inches wide by 38 inches high by 10.05 inches deep. The weight is 136.4 pounds. There is an optional wall bracket available ($199) that adds about 2″ to the depth.

The LA65-A90 uses a Texas Instruments .65” Dark Chip 4 DLP (Digital Light Processor) as the microdisplay imager. As with all 1080p DLP rear projectors, the chip uses a pixel shifting technique to produce 1920 x 1080 pixel frame every 1/60 of a second. The red, blue and green lasers each fire sequentially 28 times the frame rate (according to a Mitsubishi spokesperson), resulting in freedom from color breakup (often called rainbows), that can be seen by some viewers using conventional DLPs with projection lamps and spinning color wheels.

The remote control is similar the ones Mitsubishi supplies with it other HDTVs, except the backlight is blue rather than red. It’s a simple, straightforward affair with a “hot” button for Video settings (as well as a dedicated audio setting button).

The easy to use on-screen graphic user interface is carried over from the previous year’s Mitsubishi HDTVs. My only gripe, the menu expires in 5 seconds, an insufficient amount of time to compare different video settings.

Features

There are three picture modes called “Natural”, “Bright” and “Brilliant”. The “Natural” picture mode employs a color space that is close to the HDTV broadcast standard called Rec. 709, while the” Brilliant” mode expands the color points beyond 709 to the widest color space I have ever measured. A special algorithm converts HDTV content to Mitsubishi’s expanded color gamut. The “Bright” mode falls somewhere in-between Natural and Brilliant in its color range. The color point data for “Natural” and Brilliant are listed in the performance section below as well as a graphic above that compares the color gamut of the LaserVue TV in  “Brilliant” mode against the showroom modes of Samsung’s LN-46A650 and LN46A860 and Panasonics TH-46PZ850U. There is also a “Game” picture mode, used with the Mitsubishi’s PC input and was not tested.

The L65-A90 has a 120 Hz display mode option Mitsubishi calls “Smooth 120”. Engaging the circuit significantly improves motion resolution (more on this later). There are two other picture enhancement modes. “SharpEdge” adds edge enhancement, but also creates a white halo around sharp edges. The other picture control called “Deep Field Imager” analyzes the image and dynamically enhances black levels in portions of the screen to provide strong detail.

There are six aspect ratios for standard definition signals: Standard, (some other set makers call it Full); Expand (linear Zoom) Zoom (recommended for 2:35 anamorphic DVDs) Stretch (often called Just by other set makers, it stretches the image progressively from center) Stretch Plus (Similar to Stretch it distorts the image less that Stretch but crops more of the top and bottom) and Narrow (4:3). When viewing HD images the aspect ratio choices are Standard, Wide Expand and Zoom (for window box images with black bars on all four sides).

The L65-A90 incorporates Mitsubishi’s Perfect Color and Perfect Tint adjustments. Using both controls allowed the taming of exaggerated reds called “Red Push” lowering the intensity of red its proper proportion to the other primary and secondary colors.

Connectivity

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The L65-90 has all its inputs jacks mounted on the rear side panel (see photo). They include two antenna jacks, four HDMI 1.3 jacks, one 15 pin sub D connector for a PC, one component video input, one composite input, and one component video input. The L65-A90 accepts 480i/p; 720p; 1080i and 1080p (24p or 60p). It also accepts a number of computer formats including VGA, WVGA, XGA and SXVGA. There is also a digital audio output a jack for a 3D sync emitter (for viewing PC 3D games with 3D glasses, which were not tested).

Performance Tests

I performed all tests and evaluations at Mitsubishi’s US headquarters in California. User controls were adjusted in the “Natural” and “Brilliant” modes. Geometry tests revealed Mitsubishi (like other shallow depth projection TV makers) uses electronic geometry correction to eliminate screen distortions such as keystone errors. This requires an overscan of about 2.5%.

Placing a crosshatch pattern on-screen revealed a very slight bowing of horizontal lines in the center about 25% from the bottom of the screen. A Mitsubishi spokesperson said this was correctable using built-in adjustments performed by a technician and future production will fix this minor issue.

The white lines of the crosshatch test pattern were uniformly crisp from edge to edge with no color fringing. Since lasers are very narrow wavelength devices, (see photo) the optics can not cause color fringing (chromatic aberrations), according to a Mitsubishi representative.

Next, an evaluation of a full screen “white field” called 100 IRE Raster pattern. This test revealed a slight non-uniformity and brighter screen center; however, neither effect was noticeable in any source material viewed, including scenes with a solid blue sky. There was no speckle (sparkles causes by lasers reflecting off the screens flat surface) a breakthrough considering all other laser displays seen in the past (including earlier Mitsubishi prototypes) had speckle issues.

Off-axis viewing confirmed an acceptable viewing angle of around 130 degrees horizontal with a gradual drop off in brightness as one moves from center. There was no color shift seen as one moves off center. The viewing angle compares favorably to many LCD flat panels and is far better than any of the LED backlit LCDs observed to date. Plasma is still is the king in uniform horizontal off-axis viewing. Vertical viewing brightness drops off considerably as one shifts above or below center, this is similar to many LCD flat panels, once again, plasma is the best performer in this category.

Image brightness was nothing short of amazing. The maximum brightness on-center using 100 IRE full raster with the Deep Field Imager (DFI) activated produced a 110.88-foot lamberts, shutting off the DFI circuit dropped it down to 93.75 ftl.  To compare, the brightest LCDs (in uncalibrated showroom mode) LCDs typically about 70 ftl while most fall in the 40-50 ftl range.  After Calibration, most LCD displays drop down to 20-30 ft lamberts in order to provide the deepest black levels (the LCD’s backlights are turned down). The L65-A90 produced 66.1 ft lamberts in the post calibration, using the “Brilliant” mode. This extremely high brightness level allows excellent viewing and contrast in rooms with intensely high ambient light levels (think of the levels found in supermarkets or during daylight in homes with huge picture windows and no window treatment). In “Natural” mode, after optimizing the user control settings, 100IRE brightness came in at 50.2 ft lamberts.

The L65-A90’s black level was far below the ambient light levels of the room used for testing. With lights out, a 0 IRE black screen was jet black. Observing bright white credits on the screen center revealed a very dim glow at the bottom center of the screen, however, this was the only circumstance where this phenomena was observed.

Color Temperature

There are “High” and “Low” color temperature settings. In “High” mode, the reading was 11,199 K, making white and grays too blue. The “Low” setting was very close to the industry standard of 6500K with reading of 6518K (x.3115, y.3394) @ 20 IRE (dark gray) and 6570 K (x. 3110, y.3347). There are service mode adjustments of gray scale (also called white balance) however; the readings were so close to perfect I do not believe a calibration would yield a noticeable improvement.

Color Gamut

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(Photo-Color Gamut List NTSC, Mitsubishi L65-A90-“Brilliant” mode, Samsung LN-46A650 “Dynamic” mode, Samsung LN-46A860 “Dynamic” mode, Panasonic TH-46PZ850 “Vivid” mode)

Color reproduction by the LaserVue in its “Brilliant” mode was unlike any other display device previously tested. Reds are so intense and crimson they’re indescribable. Ditto for yellows, purples and other colors and hues. You really need to see the LA65-A90 to appreciate it (more on color later).  The “Natural” mode constricted the color gamut to approximate the Rec. 709 HDTV standard. For the “techies” the x.y. coordinate readings were as follows ‘Brilliant” and Natural modes, for reference, the coordinates of the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) and Rec. 709 standards are also listed

Brilliant Red x.7159 y.2833
DCI. Red x.680  y.320
Natural Red x.6790 y.3088
Rec. 709  Red x .640 y.330

Brilliant Green x.1725 y.7943
DCI  Green  x .265 y.690
Natural Green x.2920 y.6798
Rec. 709  Green  x .300 y.600

Brilliant Blue x.1622 y.0129
DCI  Blue x.150 y.0600
Natural Blue x.1628 y.0508
Rec. 709   Blue x.150 y.0600

Signal Processing

Silicon Optix HQV standard DVD and high definition Blu-ray test discs were utilized to evaluate the L65-A90’s signal processing. `The SD test results were excellent, except for the jaggies tests and two of the minor film cadence tests (used occasionally with animation). The HD test patterns provided similar results, passing all tests but the 3:2  and jaggies tests. The findings are as follows:

SD HQV Tests    Test Score/Maximum Possible Score
Color Bar        10/10
Jaggies Pattern 1    3/5
Jaggies Pattern 2    1/5
Flag Jaggies        0/10
Picture Detail        8/10 (Sharp Edge “Off”)
10/10 (Sharp Edge ‘On”)
Noise Reduction (NR)    5/10 (Low Setting)
8/10 (Med. Setting)
10/10 (High Setting)
Motion Adaptive NR    5/10 (Low Setting)
8/10 (Med. Setting)
10/10 (High Setting)
3:2 Detection         10/10
Film Cadence    2:2    5/5 Pass
2:2:2:4            5/5 Pass
3:2:3:2:2        0/5 Fail
5:5            5/5 Pass
6:4            5/5 Pass
8:7            0/5 Fail
3:2:2:4            5/5 Pass
Mixed Film/Video    10/10 (Horizontal Text Crawl)
Mixed Film/Video    5/10 (Vertical Text Crawl)

High Definition Tests

HD Noise Reduction     15/25 (Low Setting)
20/25 (Med. Setting)
25/25 (High Setting)
1080i Deinterlace     20/20 Pass
Jaggies            5/20
3:2 Detection        0/25 Fail
Film Res. Stadium    10/10 Pass

Static and Motion Resolution

There is a 120 Hz mode called “Smooth 120” that is designed to reduce motion blur. The results were similar to the readings of most top scoring 60 Hz and 120 Hz LCD conventional fluorescent back lit (CCFL) flat panels with 1080 lines Static Resolution; 610 lines in 120 Hz mode and 320 lines resolution in 60 Hz mode.

Power Consumption

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Simply stated the Laser TV is the “greenest” display measured to date. It consumed between 93 to 96 watts depending on source material. With its 65” screen power and 94 watt average power consumption, usage is only .052 watts per square inch. LCD and Plasma flat panels typically use 3-4 times (or more) power. (Photo of power consumption meter reading of 92.88 watts)

Viewing Tests

Images from Blu-ray movies and television programs were the sources used for the evaluation. Alien vs. Predator (AVP) Requiem is my favorite for checking out low-level detail. The results were excellent. AVP has some of the darkest segments of any recent movies viewed. The L65-A90’s ability to create deep black while maintaining the surface features of the “Alien” were quite impressive. A number of other displays would bury parts of the “Alien” into the background, while the Mitsubishi kept them separate and distinct.

Disney’s Sleeping Beauty recent Blu-ray release was a masterpiece. The digital restoration is defect free and extremely impressive. In the “Natural” mode, the colors were solid and vibrant. In the “Brilliant” mode, they practically popped of the screen! I highly recommend Sleeping Beauty to readers for its incredible non-computer age animation art.

Casino Royale’s opening color scene (it begins as a flashback in black and white) provided an excellent test bed for motion detail, contrast, flesh tones and color reproduction. During the crane portion, I noted the bright intensity of the yellow construction worker’s safety vests, the deep azure sky behind Daniel Craig and the amazing range of brightness this display was capable of reproducing. It was at the end of a 12-hour testing evaluation session and the high brightness of the display provided an incredible punch and contrast even though all the test room’s ceiling lights were on.

Overall, the expanded color gamut of the “Brilliant” mode provided a more satisfying viewing experience than the Rec.709 constricted color of the “Natural” mode setting. Some of my colleagues dispute assertions as to why a wider color range is better, however, with the L65-A90’s ability to choose either setting (Natural and Brilliant), you too can compare color reproduction and draw your own conclusions.

To wrap up, the L-65A90 has its place among the best HDTVs in the market today. Price wise, it is comparable or less than competing size flat screen displays such as the 65” Panasonic Premiere. The HD Guru awards the Mitsubishi L65A90 its highest ♥♥♥♥ rating.

Copyright ©2008 Gary Merson/HD Guru®  All rights reserved. HD GURU is a registered trademark.  The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission.

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56 Comments so far ↓

  • Ibrahim Zimmo

    I want to buy MITSUBISHI L65-A90 Tv. , in my country we are using PAL system. Is MITSUBISHI L65-A90 work with PAL system ?
    Please advice me from where i can buy MITSUBISHI L65-A90 PAL system
    Regards
    izimmo@yahoo.com

  • j grady

    What about legendary poor support and EXTREMELY poor reliability of mitsu DLP? Bad design ,lamp overheats, mirror falls off DLP etc. This really matters. Even under extended warrantee, repairs may take months and typically do. “light engine ” failures..this is still DLP.

    Similarly, Marantz stuff is junk; do you know they have NO factory repair in US? “Authorized dealer” is as good as the kid with a soldering iron. Japanese companies seem to get away with fluffing up a big image (weights are inside Marantz case!) no support if it breaks. Might as well buy a Philips for 900 $ at wal mart, plan to toss if it breaks.

  • Ed George

    Too bad, too sad, too late. That should be the epitaph for Laser DLP. A great idea that came along too late. And when it did come along, it had a $7000 price tag. I waited and waited then gave up and bought a Panasonic 58″ Plasma for a third of the price. Wow, what a picture.

  • pakreb

    After reading all of the comments posted, the ones that trouble me the most are the White Blurs. Since nobody knows what or why it is, my consideration for purchasing the Laservue is either going to be put on hold or perhaps, I’ll consider the LED TVs. Thanks to Larry and TrevEB, you might’ve saved me not only alot of money but headaches as well.

  • Wall tiles

    I was told that this was Mitsu’s last hooraah with respect to the TV industry and maybe consumer electronics, that there were others that were attempting to do the same thing but decided to go LCD/Plasma and Mitsu was hanging it’s hat on this and was going to make it very affordable in an attempt to make there mark and due to the actual costs to produce being very low.

  • ceramic bathroom tiles, ceramic kitchen tile, ceramic tiles India

    I think that mitsubishi has done a great job bringing this new laser tv technology to the world. You will see the price come down naturally over time because of competition.but for those who have the money, I would say get one! They are the best investment in any home entertainment center that you could want.

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