Product Review (July 2004) - Mitsubishi
LT-3020 30" High-Definition LCD Television

Flat panel displays are popular items these days with their sleek and elegant look coupled with stunning picture quality. Competing heavily with plasma technology, LCD displays are quickly making their way into the marketplace with similar picture quality and other significant benefits. Unlike most plasmas displays, LCD flat panels do not suffer from the typical screen "burn-in" problem. Not to say that is doesn't exist, we just haven't seen it with this display and other similar designs. The Mitsubishi's LT-3020 is a very attractive looking 30-inch diagonal, widescreen display capable of resolving fine detail from high definition sources. The cosmetic design is asthetically pleasing to the eye, so decor-conscious consumers will love it. The native resolution is 1280x768 (1.67:1), making it a true high definition display compatible with a variety of high performance products. The aspect ratio is slightly taller than a standard 16:9 display (1.67:1 versus 1.78:1) due to the display's native resolution. The wide 170°/170° (H/V) viewing angle also makes it ideal for rooms with several seating positions. Inputs are abundant with the LT-3020 and rest assured that the DVI/HDCP copy protected digital interface is compatible with the latest set-top boxes, including Mitsubishi's own HD-5000 A/V Controller. The built-in audio system works well especially when watching regular television, but you will ultimately benefit from a full range 5.1 audio system. The LT-3020 includes both a 3:2 pull-down deinterlacer and a high-performance video scaler. This display comes with a tabletop stand that allows it to be tilted vertically over a range of +20 to -5 degrees. However, wall mounting is also an option and may be preferred by many users. The display also supports Picture-in-Picture (PIP) and Picture-Out of-Picture (POP) modes.

The front of the display has nine sleek buttons elegantly hidden at the bottom of the display. The power button is located by itself on the left with the remaining eight buttons in the middle. The left four buttons control volume and channels, while the right four buttons select the input and control menu settings. These controls can be disabled from the setup menu in the event the user does not want anyone controlling the display from the front buttons (Little kids come to mind here). The LT-3020 actually detects the incoming video and when no signal is present, it automatically shuts off after a 2-minute warning message. Each of the built-in speakers (2 main and one subwoofer) are driven by independent 4-watt amplifiers for a total of 12-watts.

Connectivity
The LT-3020 has a large number of video inputs to support both analog and digital interfaces. Looking at the rear, the left side of the flat panel contains AV1 and AV2 interfaces that accommodate composite or s-video and two-channel audio connections per A/V input. There's also a pair of audio outputs that routes the selected inputs to a receiver. The digital DVI/HDCP input supports protected digital content, which is an important feature with any high definition display. Strangely enough, there's also a headphone connection located back here. I guess they didn't want to have an ugly headphone connector on the front of this elegant looking flat panel. Finally, the RS232 interface used for the Monitorlink™ control is located here. All of the RCA connectors are gold-plated for a long-term reliable connection. Cables are routed through the bottom of the removeable panel. This panel not only hides the ugly mess of wires, but it also keeps them bundled together and firmly in place.

The right side of the rear panel has two full sets of component video inputs (YPrPb) via three RCA connectors along with two sets of corresponding audio inputs (Left/Right). Once again, all RCA connectors are gold-plated for reliability. The 15-pin VGA connector allows a computer to interface to the display along with a mono audio signal if available. The VGA input also accepts RGB video from any compatible set-top box. The RF input supplies a signal to the built-in NTSC tuner and can be sourced from a roof-top antenna or an analog cable TV system. Using the setup menu the user can automatically have the display memorize the active channels based on signal strength. The DVI/HDCP (Monitorlink™) interface is also located here and is designed to work in conjunction with the RS232 interface on the other side of the display when connected to the Mistubishi HD-5000 A/V Controller. The HD-5000 is unlike any other A/V controller we've seen and is designed to work seamlessly with the LT-3020. Like the other connector panel, all of the wires are routed through the bottom of the removeable cover panel.

Menus
The remote provided with the LT-3020 is the standard issue with most of the Mitsubishi display product line. The remote has buttons that are easy to see and are large enough for those with big hands. The button layout has all the frequently used buttons in easily accessible places. A slider switch at the top of the remote selects between controlling different components from other manufacturers. The power button is located in the upper right with Up/Down paddle buttons for selecting the Device, Channel and Volume. The Device buttons select from all of the video sources that include Antenna, A/V Input1, A/V Input2, Component1, Component2, MonitorLink, and PC.
Menu controls are also provided to navigate through the on-screen menu system. Video Settings include Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Color and Tint. Color temperature can be set to High, Medium, or Low. The Advanced Features Menu has a Color Balance submenu. Here the user can adjust the color balance (Magenta, Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, and Blue) for each of the active inputs on the display. There's also an Auto Color Correction option that automatically optimizes flesh tones. We set this to off for all of our testing. Each active input can also have the color reset. The Picture-in-Picture (PIP) and Picture-Out of-Picture (POP) feature works well, but is limited when using the PC (VGA) input.

The Audio menu provides Bass, Treble and Balance controls. There's also a Surround control that can simulate stereo on a mono signal or provide surround sound on a stereo signal. For over-the-air broadcasts, the user can set the Listen To setting to Stereo, SAP or Mono, depending on the desired content from the broadcaster. The user also has control of the dynamic range using the Level Sound feature and the Subwoofer output level for the built-in subwoofer.

Viewing Modes
Based on the input, the user can control the screen modes to optimize the picture based on content. The Standard mode, which is the default mode used with HDTV, evenly distributes the image across the full screen. This mode is also used with anamorphic (16:9 enhanced) DVDs. The Expand mode is intended for non-anamorphic DVDs that would normally stretch the image horizontally and insert bars on the top and bottom of the screen. This would look okay on a standard 4:3 screen, but not on a 16:9 screen. This mode stretches the image vertically correcting the aspect ratio distortion, while cropping some of the video on the top and bottom to reduce the black bars that are normally seen with these discs. This emphasizes the importance of anamorpphic DVDs and why they maximize video resolution. Ideally, you do not want to use this mode, but it exists to make non-anamorphic DVDs viewable on this widescreen display. The Zoom mode essentially increases the overscan both horizontally and vertically to help eliminate the top and bottom black bars on movies that have wider aspect ratios. This will crop the right and left side of the picture, so any self-respecting movie-buff or cinematographer would object to this immediatly. It's analogous to people complaining about the top and bottom bars on 4:3 displays, so Mitsubishi included it as one of the screen options for their display. The Stretch mode is one of my favorite as it takes a 4:3 source and distributes it across the full screen in a way that doesn't make it look too objectionable. This is accomplished by stretching the sides more than the center area, resulting in a fairly good looking center picture. However, scenes that pan will quickly reveal the technique used here to help the majority of the image. The Narrow mode exist for 4:3 content that uses gray bars on the right and left side of the image to preserve the aspect ratio on this display. The PC input can select between this mode and the Wide mode only. It must be noted that the Expand, Zoom, Stretch and Narrow modes are not available when using 1080i or 720p video. Only the Standard mode supports 480i/480p/720p/1080i video formats.

There's a special HD Expand mode for 1080i and 720p video that works similar to the Zoom mode. This mode zooms on the image that helps reduce the top and bottom black bars on widescreen source material. It can also help reduce the side bars from broadcasters when watching 4:3 content in the 720p or 1080i modes.

We did notice that when displaying 720p or 1080i video using the component inputs in the Standard mode, small bars always appreared on the top and bottom of the display. The bars are the result of the video only using the 1280x720 pixels (720p) for true 1:1 pixel mapping, resulting in a true 16:9 image on the screen. Mitsubishi also has the HD Expand mode that fills the entire screen with a small amount of overscanning on the left and right side of the picture. The two screen modes offers viewers flexibility with their high definition content, so everyone should be happy.

Calibration
We took color measurements using our Sencore CP5000 All-Display Color Analyzer. The graph shows the results of all three factory measurements. The LT-3020 produced accurate colors with good shadow detail, especially for an LCD display. The black level on this display was still not quite as dark as we would like to see, but was not a significant problem in well lit rooms. The light output of this display was similar to a CRT, making it ideal for rooms where sunlight may be difficult to control. We reduced the factory light output setting to increase performance of the display. Overdriving the contrast setting sometimes clips the white level causing bright scenes to lose detail.

Display Primaries
The primary colors produced by the LT-3020 were measured using our GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Spectrophotometer along with the Milori ColorFacts software. The CIE chart indicates where the ideal primaries are located where the three small points make a dark triangle. The measured primary colors are marked by the red, green and blue markers connected together with the white triangle. Only colors inside this triangle can be produced by the display by definition. Colors were well saturated and looked excellent overall with impressively rich reds that were remarkably accurate and confirmed by the measurements. Greens were lush with only a slight hint of yellow and blues were deep and accurate. Skin tones had a natural appeal and color fidelity was superb.

Setup
We connected several sources to the LT-3020 to get a better feel for how it handles real-world material. As mentioned earlier, we connected the Mitsubishi's HD-5000 high-definition A/V Controller as an over-the-air source for high definition content. Using this controller allowed us to receive and send high-definition digital video directly to the display. This unit takes a variety of other video sources and converts them to the DVI MonitorLink™ interface. The full-featured HD-5000 also has a FireWire (IEEE1394) link that allows it to control many D-VHS VCRs directly. Basic VCR functions can be completely controlled by the HD-5000 remote. However, we connected our Marantz MV8300 D-VHS VCR to one of the component video inputs for testing both 720p and 1080i analog high-definition video. We also connected our Sony DVP-NS900V DVD player using interlaced component video. We did this to test out the deinterlacing capabilities of the LT-3020. We also fed the display progressive component video from our Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M changer with built-in DCDi™ processing.

Performance
Picture quality on the LT-3020 was excellent for an LCD display. The internal scaler does a wonderful job of converting incoming video to the native 1280x768 resolution. Even poor source material from a standard VCR looked reasonably good on this display. High resolution material came alive with natural looking
flesh-tones with nicely saturated colors. Scenes from HDNet's Bikini Destinations really unveiled the high-definition capabilities of the LT-3020. Over-the-air programs such as Las Vegas looked wonderful using the HD-5000 A/V controller. Like all flat panel displays, the LT-3020 has perfect geometry which is often difficult to acheive with CRT-based display technology. The downside to this technology is the lack of deep blacks. Other digital technologies also have this issue including plasma and DLP displays. This is certainly not obvious to most viewers especially in normal viewing conditions. It will become more apparent in a dark room.

We really liked the fact that each of the video inputs on the LT-3020 has its own set of memory parameters allowing calibrated inputs to be unique to each component. This is a feature that many manufacturers neglect. The resolution and color saturation was impressive with scenes from Monster's Inc. The fur on Sulley's body had texture that looked real (albeit bluish-green). The display did a great job of scaling the 480p video to match the display's native resolution. Curved objects were very smooth looking with the 480p material. We did notice some artifacts with certain over-the-air NTSC programs and standard VCR-based source material. However, the built-in 3D motion-adaptive Y/C comb filter did a good job separating chroma and luminance signals, virtually eliminating cross color artifacts on the composite inputs.

The internal 3:2 deinterlacer worked well with challenging material. Star Trek's Insurrection DVD has some of the most difficult material for these processors and the LT-3020 did very well. The introduction scene not only has slanted roof-tops and a curved bridge rail, but the camera also slowly pans across the set, making it a completely dynamic deinterlacing challenge. The rooftops and bridge rail exhibited minimal deinterlacing artifacts and looked very good overall.

Conclusion
The Mitsubishi LT-3020 is a fantastic high definition LCD television with an extensive number of video inputs including the very important DVI/HDCP interface. The video processing included with the display is excellent with its 3D motion adaptive comb filter, 3:2 deinterlacing and smooth scaling. Our overall impression of LCD technology is positive, but it does have some issues with deep black levels as noted in the review. However, as an alternative to plasma, LCD technology and specifically the Mitsubishi LT-3020 is capable of delivering an excellent high definition picture.

- Kevin Nakano


Review System

Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box #1: Samsung SIR-T165 Terrestrial HDTV Receiver with DVI
Set-top Box #2: RCA DTC100 HDTV/DSS Satellite Receiver
HDTV Receiver/Controller: Mitsubishi HD-5000 Receiver
D-VHS VCR #1: Marantz MV8300 D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
D-VHS VCR #2: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables
DVI Cable: Monster Cable M Series M500DVI DVI-D Cable
Power Conditioning: Panamax MAX® 5510 ACRegenerator
Video Generator: Sencore VP300 SDTV/HDTV Video Pattern Generator
Color Analyzer #1: Sencore CP5000 ISF Certified All-Display Color Analyzer
Color Analyzer #2: GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro with ColorFacts Software


Review - At a Glance

Mitsubishi - LT-3020 30" High-Definition LCD Display

Features:

  • 30 inch Widescreen (1.67:1) High Definition Display.
  • Wide-angle viewing.
  • Can be wall mounted or used with the included tabletop base.
  • 1280 x 768 pixel array for true high definition resolution.
  • Supports 720p/1080i High Definition Video Signals
  • Integrated NTSC Tuner 1-piece design.
  • 480-Line Motion-Adaptive 3D Y/C Comb Filter.
  • Film Mode with 3:2 pulldown compensation.
  • MonitorLink/DVI Input with HDCP
  • RS-232C Control
  • Three preset color temperature modes (Low/Med/High).
  • Accepts 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i video signals.
  • PC Input (60Hz) - VGA, SVGA, XGA, WXGA compatible computer monitor signals
  • Advanced Multi-Image Display supports PIP and POP images.
  • Built-in Speakers with Subwoofer.


  • Source: Manufacture supplied
    Model Number: LT-3020
    MSRP: $4,699


    Company Information
    Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Inc.
    9351 Jeronimo Road
    Irvine, CA 92618
    Phone: (949) 465-6000
    Website: http://www.mitsubishi-tv.com

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