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Argh...Mitsubishi or Toshiba RPTV? (long)


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#1 of 19 Brian Harnish

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Posted January 04 2003 - 07:43 AM

Here's my situation. Within the next 2-3 months I should be receiving my tax refund (when I get my W-2 I'm going to electronically file my taxes immediately afterwards). I've decided to pick up a new Widescreen RPTV (between $1600 - $1800). The problem is, I have narrowed it down to two sets, but can't decide between the two: the Mitsubishi WT-42311 or the Toshiba 42H82.

The reason I can't decide is this: I watch about 80% Widescreen DVDs and 20% 4:3 material (this has changed from 90/10 with the latest releases of Buffy, The Simpsons, M*A*S*H, etc.). I know Mitsubishi has 480p native capability, but their stretch modes apparently suck. However, Toshiba tends to upconvert from 480p to 540p (yuck) but tends to have one of the best stretch modes on the market.

The problem is that both sets have a great picture, but the Mitsubishi picture seems much more "pure" (for lack of a better term) than Toshiba's. Perhaps I'm noticing the artifacts and I don't realize it or what...I don't know.

I would appreciate any and all criticisms of both sets from Toshiba and Mits. owners (particularly those that have owned both). I also have a few questions for those owners:

1. What made you decide to choose Mits over Toshiba (or vice versa)?

2. I realize that my viewing circumstances should already have clinched the decision for me, but it hasn't. I think I would be happy with both sets but might be uneasy going with a set that displays artifacts (I'd also be uneasy going with a set that has crappy stretch modes for 4:3 material). So for those that have reached this point of compromise, what was the primary clincher for your decision on your particular set? And why was that the primary clincher?

3. Also, how noticeable are the artifacts on the Toshiba set?

Those are my questions but the answers to these will determine my final decision. Gah, early March is when I expect to finally be able to make my purchase. That is such a long ways away. Argh!! Posted Image

#2 of 19 Rory

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Posted January 04 2003 - 11:54 AM

Hi,

I've had the Mits WS-48311 since September and love it. I know you're looking at the 42311, but I'm sure they're similar.

I chose the Mits for several reasons:

1. Size. 42" was to small and 51" and up wouldn't fit.

2. The picture looked best to my eye compared to all others.

3. Reputation. Reliability. Design.

4. Price.

5. "The Upgrade Promise"

I personally have no problem with the "stretch mode". It takes a little getting used to (as it does with the "stretch mode" of any WSTV), but I'm quite pleased with it.

I love this TV. DVD's look absolutely stunning and 4:3 broadcasts look fine. I can't wait until I get my HDTV!

Just my 2 cents.

Cheers!

#3 of 19 Jan Strnad

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Posted January 05 2003 - 04:53 AM

I have and love the Tosh 42H81 (last year's model). The new models have better upconversion, but if you want to have a real life Tosh picture to study for artifacts, you can go here. I haven't had the set ISF calibrated. Be sure to expand the pic to full size or it'll truly look awful!

Maybe someone will post the same shot (Shakespeare in Love chapter 8) for comparison.

Jan
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#4 of 19 Alan Pummill

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Posted January 05 2003 - 12:29 PM

Why not check out the regular line from Pioneer. They share many of the same features as the best RPTV on the market, the Pioneer Elites!! Better stretch mode than either Tosh or Mits. Also better line doubler.

Pioneer makes a 53" HDTV that should suit you just fine.
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#5 of 19 BruceSpielbauer

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Posted January 05 2003 - 03:29 PM

Both are great sets.

There is no "best." All sets have their strengths and weaknesses. You must find the set which has the strengths which are especially important to you, and yet which does not have weaknesses which will ruin the experience or which will bother you too much.

My final choices came down to: Pioneer Elite, Toshiba, and Mitsubishi.

The Pioneer Elite disqualified itself, because it was overpriced. It is a great set, but not $2000 (!) better than the other two.

The Toshiba eliminated itself due to the upconversion (I asked to see DVDs I knew well, and made comparisons). It bothered me, and always looked the the Mits did when I would use the "Zoom" mode on a really great DVD. The picture seemed just a bit washed out, or softer. Some claimed they could not see this at all. I did. Also, there were some ghosting issues with some of the Toshibas when I bought, last summer. Also, the overall "quality" of the build did not seem as high, and this seemed to be born out by some of those who had bought them.

The Mits does NOT have a stretch mode which was quite as good. I watched the stretch modes for a log time, in several showrooms, and I finally decided I liked the stretch mode on the Mits, even if I did not like it quite as much as the one on the Toshiba.

The final decision: The Mits had some problems I was aware of -- 25% red push, and SVM. However, I also discovered that both of these COULD be corrected. I studied the procedures for eliminating the red push (especially) and for getting the SVM completely turned off. At that point, I thought:

Toshiba:

Upconversion. Cannot be "fixed" or changed.

Build quality. Cannot be "fixed" or changed.

Mitsubishi:

Stretch mode. I can live with it. And, when I buy a set top box for HDTV, it will have its own stretch modes, anyway, for all standard def stuff. (I have now done this, and my stretch modes are at least as good as the Toshiba's are. The Zenith Sat520HD has GREAT stretch modes!)

Red Push. I can fix it. SVM. I can fix it.

I am very happy I bought my Mitsubishi. I love to tweak, though, and did not mind fixing the red push, and the edge enhancement. (By the way, almost all sets have excessive red push, even Pioneer Elites).

Again, both are great sets. I would probably have been very happy with the Toshiba, as well.

Remember, there is no "best." All sets have their strengths and weaknesses. You must find the set which has the strengths which are especially important to you, and yet which does not have weaknesses which will ruin the experience or which will bother you too much.

Hope this helps,

-Bruce in Chi-Town

#6 of 19 Brian Harnish

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Posted January 05 2003 - 06:42 PM

Alan- I wish I could consider getting one of the Pioneer Elite sets but alas, I will only have $1700 - $2000 to spend on my new RPTV.

Bruce- You may have helped me clinch my decision right there. Your mention of stretch modes being available in a set top box for HDTV has now caused me to lean considerably towards Mitsubishi sets. It looks like I'm going to get a Mits -- as I have seen them on the showroom floor and I've always been impressed with their picture quality on Progressive Scan DVD player sources.

Thank you to everyone that replied! I promise that there will be a lengthy celebratory post when I purchase this set in about three months. Posted Image

#7 of 19 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted January 05 2003 - 08:02 PM

Brian,

Given all the no-interest financing deals out there, why not just get the TV now, if you know you have the $$$ for it in a few months?

BTW, are you saying you plan to stretch 4x3 DVDs? If so, you'll need to find an HDTV receiver that can also act as a hub for stretching those--and do it well(!). That may or may not be easy/feasible in the near future. I'm not sure, but I don't think the Zenith Sat520 does this. It probably only works for broadcast programming, ie. sat and OTA.

Have you considered other brands like Sony? There's a current thread comparing Sony to Toshiba that might interest you.

As for the Pioneer, Alan was not talking about the Elite line although I have no idea if they make one in your budget and size ranges.

_Man_
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#8 of 19 Alan Pummill

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Posted January 05 2003 - 09:26 PM

Brian, I did not recommend an Elite for you, I recommended a 'regular' Pioneer HDTV. It falls more in-line with your budget.

Bruce, the Elites ARE the best, and you agreed!! You have to pay for the best, it don't come cheap!!Posted Image
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#9 of 19 Brian Harnish

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Posted January 06 2003 - 01:41 AM

Quote:
Brian, I did not recommend an Elite for you, I recommended a 'regular' Pioneer HDTV. It falls more in-line with your budget.

Alan- Gah! My mistake! I read your post, headed over to PioneerElectronics.com, and only saw a 53" model that was $3999.99 (the cheapest one on the site). Is there a cheaper/lower model sold elsewhere that isn't mentioned on Pioneer's site?

Looks like I'll head over to Ken Cranes hardware after work and do a little more research! Posted Image

#10 of 19 Alan Pummill

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Posted January 06 2003 - 09:25 AM

Here is a Pioneer 53" HDTV for $2077. You may be able to find it even cheaper. For a couple of hundred dollars extra, you'd be getting better stretch mode and line doubler than the Mits or Tosh IMHO.

http://www.etronics.....d5&SVBName=276
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#11 of 19 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted January 06 2003 - 09:45 AM

Just remember though that you'll have to get it online for that kind of price. I buy all sorts of things online, but I personally would not want to get a $2K RPTV from such online dealers. If it's online, I'd go w/ somebody like OneCall and pay a little more and also get their white glove service. You can try to get OneCall to come close to the better online prices.

_Man_
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#12 of 19 Jan Strnad

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Posted January 07 2003 - 03:29 AM

During this troubling transition period, I'd weight good stretch modes as much more important than the upconversion issue. I have had a number of Mitsubishi components, including several TVs, and I generally like the company, but I think they kinda dropped the ball here.

I'm still waiting for some generous soul to post a picture from chapter 8 of Shakespeare in Love, the famous "Marlowe's beard" shot, as viewed in native 480p, so that we can see exactly how much or how little detail is lost in upconversion in real world viewing of an excellent transfer.

I'll gladly host the shot on my web page, along with my upconverted screenshot, if anyone needs storage space.

This isn't a challenge, since I know that my set isn't as sharp compared with one that keeps 480p native. The purpose is to determine just how severe (or not) the upconversion issue is.

Jan
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#13 of 19 BruceSpielbauer

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Posted January 07 2003 - 04:26 AM

>>> During this troubling transition period, I'd weight good stretch modes as much more important than the upconversion issue. I have had a number of Mitsubishi components, including several TVs, and I generally like the company, but I think they kinda dropped the ball here. <<<

There is always room for respectful disagreement, and I would have to respectfully disagree. Each individual should be given the facts, and try to determine what their own priorities are, and how those facts may impact their priorities.

The upconversion issue bothered me, and still does, when I see what the quality of image could be on DVDs. It makes them look as soft as if I were using one of the zoom modes, in humble opinion. I read where others claimed they could not even notice. I saw it, especially when I looked at two models which did the upconvert, next to two models which did not. It bothered me.

The stretch modes on the Mits are not bad. They are simply not quite as good as that on the Toshiba, or the Pioneer. They did not bother me at all for five months, using them for regular Cable TV 4 X 3 images. Granted, some will report that they are "awful" or "unwatchable." For my watching, they were never a distraction, though. Those who watch a lot of sports may find that the distortion at the far edges distracts, as rapid movement moves from "little or no stretch" into "a definite stretch." I do not watch a lot of sports, though, so I did not see this. They are still good enough that no one in my family except me was even aware that there was any stretching going on (my wife still does not truly understand aspect ratios, and the kids were not aware at all, either.)

Now that I am using a DirectTV set top box which has excellent stretch modes, this has definitely become a non-issue. If a consumer is going to purchase this at the time of switching, then it probably becomes a non-issue, unless that user does watch a lot of 4 X 3 DVDs and plans to also strecth those 4 X 3 DVDs. The only 4 X 3 DVDs I would ever use on my system are a few legacy films which are such important works of artistic merit that I would never think to distort the image. If I am watching Citizen Kane, I want the 1.35:1 aspect ratio unblemished. I am not claiming that this is true of all. I am just pointing out that widescreen DVDs are outselling the 4 X 3 ones, and not everyone has the same priorities.

There are actually two stretch modes on my model set top box which are as good as, if not better than, those of the Toshiba and the Pioneers (again, in my opinion). My set top box has five stretch modes for 4 X 3, and four for widescreen viewing. And, I do not have to live forever with the upconvert, and I did not have to suffer with the softer, inferior picture caused by this at all.

Again, this is part of the reason why there is no "best set." There is only a "best set" for the individual's needs. If consumer A knows he is going to get a set top box, he needs to consider the stretch modes on the set top box, carefully. If consumer B knows he will not be getting one, then he certainly needs to be looking carefully at the stretch modes on his TV. If consumer C rarely watches DVDs, and plans on watching HDTV and standard def, then the upconvert issue may become a non-issue, for him.

To Brian: Shop carefully. Base your decision on the facts about each set. Do not base it on our personal prejudices. Mine included. Ask yourself how you watch today, and how that may change in the future.

Try to remember that almost everyone around this forum occasionally has the urge to tell someone "I think you should buy Acme Brand. After all, I did." It may be that we all need validation, to feel as if we truly are a better shopper, or a smarter shopper. It may be that we all feel a need to be told we made the right decision.

Shop carefully, Brian, and remember that everyone here is either trying to solve a problem, or else has a tendency to want to believe that they made the best purchase choice, and that this is the best purchase choice for others, as well.

All of the sets have strengths. All have flaws. Even the Pioneer Elite. Even the Loewe Aconda (which could set you back even more than the Pioneer Elite, and which tend to be even better sets, according to calibrators). The Loewe Acondas tend to be the closest to an ISF calibrated set, and usually have perfect gray scale. But they are limited in input choices and types. The Pioneer Elites tend to have a good line doubler, and good stretch modes, but they also tend to exhibit a lot of red push, and are not always as "tweakable." The Mitsubishis have excellent color and clarity, and they are probably the most "tweakable." But they have weaker stretch modes, and have the "red push." The Toshibas have excellent stretch modes, and excellent power supplies, which means sudden shifts from dark to light are excellent, but the Toshibas have "red push," and automatically upconvert 480i to 540p. Sonys seem to plagued lately with flickering problems. The new Hitachis actually to have improved the upconvert so it is not quite as soft, but I find them less than vivid and with some blooming even after you take it out of torch mode.

That being said, I think you should buy a Mits. After all, I did.

Grin.

-Bruce in Chi-Town

#14 of 19 Jan Strnad

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Posted January 07 2003 - 08:11 AM

Bruce,

This is the first I've heard of a DTV box having stretch modes! That definitely adds another variable to consider (as if we were short on them).

Jan wrote: >>> During this troubling transition period, I'd weight good stretch modes as much more important than the upconversion issue. I have had a number of Mitsubishi components, including several TVs, and I generally like the company, but I think they kinda dropped the ball here. <<<

Bruce wrote: >>>There is always room for respectful disagreement, and I would have to respectfully disagree.<<<

Sorry, Bruce, but you're flat out wrong. As I said, "I would weight good stretch modes more heavily than upconversion." This is an indisputable fact straight from the source, me.

Now, if I'd said, "You should weight stretch modes over upconversion," you'd have a case for disagreement.

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

Other than that semantic quibble, I totally agree. Each buyer has to make his/her own priorities.

Now, Bruce, how about posting a picture of Marlowe's beard as seen on your Mits?

Jan
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#15 of 19 John Royster

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Posted January 07 2003 - 08:53 AM

Jan,

Is that the camera or focus making the picture look so soft?

#16 of 19 Jan Strnad

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Posted January 07 2003 - 10:20 AM

Good question!

We're dealing with a lot of variables, here: The limits of my 2.0 megapixel camera, how well (or ill) its autofocus works, transition of the digital image to a smaller size, possible wobbling of the camera on a stack of books and magazines, the effect of looking at a still frame, etc. I did have to lighten up the photo a bit in Photoshop to get the overall brightness I see on the set.

Overall, though, the pic is a pretty good representation of what I see on the set, or what I would see if I sat about four-or-five feet from the screen.

When I watch the scene as it plays, Marlowe's beard seems sharper.

However, anyone else's pic would suffer from the same transmutations, so if someone would post a pic from a native 480p display, it could still serve some purpose.

Jan
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#17 of 19 John Royster

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Posted January 07 2003 - 12:21 PM

Jan,

I don't have anyplace to post a pic nor do I have that movie, nor do I have a tripod or remote shutter control for my el-cheapo 2MP digital camera. Otherwise I'd love to swap some photos! But I do think its time I shoot some pictures of my tweaked mitsubishi. no red push, no EE, dead on convergence, etc.

Posted Image

#18 of 19 Jan Strnad

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Posted January 07 2003 - 12:32 PM

John,

We have the same limitations, apparently, on the quality of our photos! Except for my owning the movie...you'd need to rent it, I guess.

If you do decide to take a shot of this scene (it's at 19:37 on the disc), I can post it for you. Just email it to me at Jan@atombrain.com.

Anyone else who wants to join the Great Marlowe's Beard Shootout (including those who can take a better picture than I can of a Tosh), just email me!

Jan
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#19 of 19 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted January 07 2003 - 02:36 PM

I can do it w/ my mildly tweaked Panny 53", but I don't have a progressive scan player yet. Also, I suspect any comparison would need to be done w/ photo resolutions that match the TVs' resolutions closely and maybe use somewhat better quality JPEG file size.

800x600 is not going to give a very good comparison, and neither will 86KB JPEG file size I suspect. Remember, we're using the JPEG file like a lens filter for our own eyes.

Since it's very hard to do accurate comparison of the whole image and keep the file size low, I suggest comparing shots focused in on Marlowe's face and shoulders at 640x480 w/ maybe 150KB file size instead. Most 2MP (or lower) digital cameras have a 640x480 mode, but not so much 800x600. This way we don't have to do any editing or cropping that might lead to more detail loss due to recompression. And 640x480 of just his face and top part of his shoulders should yield enough detail to overcome the resolution mismatch for our purposes. Also, it'd be easier to do side-by-side comparisons of lower res images on one's PC display.

_Man_
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