WD-73735 Build Quality and Setup
When I was asked if I wanted to review a rear projection TV, I said what I always do - Yes. Then they wanted to know how big of a set did I want to review. Well, how big do they get? Apparently 73 inches. The Mitsubishi WD-73735 is near the top of the line from them in rear projection DLPs. It's huge, of course, and fairly light for its size. Having such a large display comes with its own challenges, such as requiring a two man delivery team (delaying the delivery by almost a week), finding somewhere to store such a huge box, and going back to your 42" LCD after the review period. Oh, well, I suppose I'll have to take one for the team on this one.
First Impressions and Build Quality
As you might expect from a huge display, it came in a huge box. It was of the "lift off the top" variety and arrived undamaged. It comes with a setup guide, owner's manual, remote, and power cord. This is the first setup guide that I've seen with two parts. Usually, they just load it all up on one big page. The display is huge and the box is equally impressive. As I stood there staring at it, I wondered if I was going to have to have a few friends over to help me move it.
As all rear projection sets, the screen and upper areas are all fairly lightweight and "flimsy." I put flimsy in quotes because this isn't a slam against the build quality - it is just the nature of the beast. The base is larger and much more sturdy. The bevel around the screen is very thin - around a half an inch. Many rear projection sets have a base that is as wide as the screen. The WD-73735 doesn't do this and instead has a base that is about 37 1/2" and is nearly 18" deep. For the size of screen, it is pretty shallow.
The front sports the Mitsubishi logo, a slot where the speakers fire out of, , and a small covered panel. Behind the panel is a USB port (for pictures), component video inputs, and analogue audio inputs. There are also controls for Volume, Channels, Format, Menu, Guide, and Input. Just in case you don't have enough reasons to yell at your kids, there is also a System Reset button that freezes up the display for up to a minute and a half. No warnings, no "Are you Sure" messages, just a black screen and a little flashing green light until it is done. The button exists to reset the TV in the event that it stops responding to the remote. Ironically, the only time the WD-73735 didn't respond to the remote during the review period was when the System Reset button was pressed and I was trying to turn it back on. Luckily, it doesn't reset any of your calibration settings (unless they were recently made). The back has three HDMI inputs, two more Component video inputs, a couple of analogue audio inputs, an S-Video/Composite input and a Coaxial digital audio input. There are no TOSLink or Coax audio outputs or PC inputs. Two antenna inputs are also included. If you have a set of 3D glasses and something to use them with (I didn't), there is a port for that as well. The power cord is not detachable (an odd oversight in a near top of the line RPDLP).
Set-Up & General Use
The Mitsubishi WD-73735 is a monster in size but fairly lightweight. Something about its size to weight ratio makes it seem lighter than it is. My wife and I managed to load it up on the Diamond Case cabinet. Because of the size of the display and the height of the cabinet, I often felt like I was looking up at it. Rear projection displays tend to have inconsistent off axis response (even when you are looking straight on) and seem to change as you move around the room. Once I settled into my seat and spent a little time with it, the WD-73735 looked pretty natural to me. All in all, if I could have lowered the display a bit so that my eyes were directly in line with the middle (rather than the bottom 3rd) of the display, it probably would have looked a little more natural.
Once you power the unit on, it immediately recognizes every input that you are using. I had already wired up most of my components with Impact Acoustics cables so I was taken to a screen that asks you to name each of the inputs (you can pick from a list rather than enter characters). The WD-73735 will do this every time you add an input. Later on, I moved my HDMI cable to one of the inputs (to make sure they worked) and the Mitsubishi immediately sent me to the naming screen again. The only real problem I had with this process is there was no "Select" button. Instead, once you found the name you wanted, you just hit "Exit" which is not nearly as intuitive as confirming your selection with a button press. You can rename (and reorder your inputs) from the menu system at any time. Overall, this was a very nice feature (if a bit clunky).
The input sensing of the WD-73735 really took just about all the stress out of setting up the display. The Denon AVR-2307CI didn't seem to want to play nice with the display which caused me to have to turn the display, receiver, DVD player, and cable box on and off until something finally synced up via HDMI. Once that happened, all the other sources worked as well. If I connected the source directly to the unit, I didn't have that problem. I figured out eventually that if I left the receiver on, I didn't have the problem any longer. Irritating, yes, but I blame HDMI and not Mitsubishi.
Mitsubishi is now on the list of manufacturers who apparently don't employ anyone with an Xbox 360. The only way to get 1080p out of a 360 is via Component cables. The WD-73735 will only accept up to 1080i via component. Be sure to change your resolution before you make this connection or you'll have to reach back there and flip that stupidly placed switch on the cable to reset everything to standard definition.
The WD-73735 sports three real aspect ratios (the manual has a bunch but either they are locked into their internal tuners, I'm reading it wrong, or I don't know the correct voodoo chant to get to them): Standard, Expand, and Zoom. Standard is what you'd expect - just putting the picture up there. Expand is your stretch mode and Zoom crops the top and bottom for letterboxed 4:3 content. These are pretty standard, no frills aspect ratios and work with all content (including HD). I generally didn't use them because the picture was so large I didn't really care if there were a few black bars here or there.
One thing I did notice when using this set was the speed it changed from standard definition channels to high definition ones. The WD-73735 is hands down the fastest set I've ever used. With other displays, I've encountered everything from brief delays (with a black screen) to flickering images, to long delays with flickering images. One of the displays I've used recently was prone to losing its HDCP handshake if I switched between channels too quickly. For channel switching, the WD-73735 has yet to be bested in my experience.
The menu system uses a lot of little graphics (little is relative on this screen - everything is rather big) to represent things. These mostly make sense though it might take a little time to get used to them. The AV Menu is the big one and we'll cover that in detail below. The Captions Menu is just for closed captioning. Not sure why that needs a menu off the main screen. Setup (where the Captions Menu should be housed) is for those using the internal tuners on the WS-73735. It also gives you access to the power modes such as Energy Mode (Fast Power On - consumes more power when off but powers up quickly, Low Power - the opposite) and Lamp Mode (Standard, Bright - only for brightly lit rooms). The Input menu lets you rename your inputs and reorder them. Reordering them actually is pretty cool in that you can move your most used input to the top of the list and group all the ones you have connected together. This way you don't have to scroll through three or four unused inputs when you want to switch from your DVD player to your Xbox for instance. It is nice that the menu remembers that last setting you used. The timeout on each is pretty short so this comes in handy (or you can keep adjusting a bit just to keep it open like I did).
While this is technically the "big" menu, you' don't really have a lot to do here. Calibration options are at a minimum and after you complete your initial setup, you'll probably only really have Brightness to mess with. The majority of your settings are under the Video submenu so we'll do that one last. From right to left you have
Global - Here you can mute the video (displays a purple screen) or enable an Audio Only Screensaver (plays the audio while displaying a random pattern). You can turn off Film Mode (don't) or display a test picture (which really isn't all the great for calibration as far as I could tell).
Perfect Color - I suppose this is supposed to be your major calibration location. Unfortunately, it only has sliders with six colors. I suppose if you really wanted to fool with this you could but more than likely it isn't going to do you much good. What this really means is that Mitsubishi really only wants trained calibrators with access to the service menus adjusting their sets. This is fine as long as the default settings get you close or if you don't mind paying the extra cash for a professional calibration.
Reset - Resets the settings on the current input. There is no provision for global reset.
Audio - If you are using the speakers (they claim they are full range… I don't know how they can do that with a straight face), you can adjust them here. You can turn the speakers on or off (a handy feature). You can control the bass, treble, and balance. You can set the speakers from Normal to Expand (I didn't notice much of a difference). Lastly, you can enable "Level Sound" which is an equalizer for those overly loud commercials we all hate.
Video - The majority of your calibration will take place here. There are three picture modes (really four but Game is only available to inputs labeled Game or PC) entitled Brilliant, Bright, and Natural. Natural isn't the default for anything so you'll need to select it manually. There are controls for Contrast, Brightness, Color, Tint, and Sharpness. Color Temp is supposed to adjust the white balance and has two settings - High and Low. Video Noise is the WD-73735's noise reduction and has High, Medium, Low, and Off settings.
Note - Some settings (like the Video Mute or Game mode) are only available if you give the input the proper name. This seems to be an effort to keep people from improperly using the display. I fail to understand how it hurts the display to have normal cable signal have access to Game Mode or to use the Audio Only Screensaver with an input labeled DVD. It just seems unnecessary and arbitrary.
The remote is black, simple, and partially backlit. There is a slider at the top to select your different devices (if you plan on using this as a universal remote) though this is not backlit at all. The only way to turn on the backlighting without controlling something is hitting the Enter key. Overall, I like this. It's better than trying to find the backlight button in the dark. As a remote, it is pretty plain but functional. The number keys do not light up so if you are using it to channel surf, it might not work well for you. My big problems were that the Input and Format buttons were too close. Format controls the aspect ratios (scrolls through with each button push) and the Input button brings up a menu to select which input to use. I often hit the wrong one. There is only the Input button and not individual buttons for each input. My other qualm is that the remote isn't very responsive… or it is too responsive. Often, I'd have to hit a button, wait, and then hit it again. I'd say the remote registered about 50% of the time. On the other hand, when I was making adjustments, I'd hold down a button and let it up as I got close to the proper setting just to see the display register 5 or 6 more button pushes. It wasn't so annoying that I wanted to break the remote with a hammer but I sure didn't feel like I had a quality piece of equipment in my hand.
You should review the Samsung HL61A750, Tom. You can do a perfect calibration using the service menu (or get very close using the user menu).
between the 2,imo mitsu..based on calibrated sets
I wonder if Tom did an oops. My set has a coax audio OUTPUT strictly for OTA.
I'm looking at the back of that display in the PDF and comparing it to the photo on Audioholics. Hehe...this is Audioholics not videoholics.
The PC inputs are the top two red/white RCA inputs just to the right of the orange coax digital out.
Good catch, Glocks. Methinks Tom owes you a beer.
I think so too I'll take a Sam Adams please!
I never could get used to off axis performance of a rear projection system like Tom suggested.
I am of the opinion that this is just another example of quantity over quality.
Would you really be willing to trade (permanently) your 42" display for this one Tom?