I'm an urban guy and have lived in and around New York City my entire life. As such, I'm used to small spaces, which can be a challenge when you're reviewing audio, video and home theater gear. Historically most of which has been big, bulky and often not very concerned with cosmetic appeal.
My colleagues and I at a pioneering and now-defunct dotcom reviewed several of the first flat-screen TVs ever to come to market back in the mid-to-late 1990s. We were all used to small urban spaces, and the idea of a TV you could really hang on the wall propelled us squarely and permanently into geek heaven.
At the time, I owned a Pioneer Elite 50" rear projection TV, a great set for its day, but it was about five feet tall, about a yard deep and obviously, more than 50 inches wide. It was glossy black and dominated whatever room it was in like Kubrick's monolith. This massive piece of gear fairly screamed "bachelor pad" no matter what the rest of the room looked like (which was ok, as I was a bachelor at the time)
Reactions to such a gargantuan TV more than twenty years ago were always split right down the middle. The guys thought my set was the bomb (we said things like that at the time). To the gals, it felt like some ghastly Freudian joke.
There's a phrase in the electronics industry called "the WAF" -- wife acceptance factor. This is the subjective line in the sand where a piece of gear isn't so big or ugly that one's wife, better half or significant other will consent to it being visible in her home. Nowadays the more politically correct "spouse acceptance factor" is also used, but SAF never had the same ring.
Big video and audio components like rear-screen projection TVs rarely earn a high WAF. But nowadays with the rise of the man cave, they don't have to.
Mitsubishi doesn't seem overly concerned about WAF in bringing these TVs to market, nor does it faze them that the rest of the industry left rear-screen behind years ago. As far as they're concerned, a well-engineered set that uses the time-tested (and now very mature) DLP light engine technology is capable, dollar for dollar, of delivering the best picture on the market.
While I have not seen these new Mitsubishi TVs -- they're just beginning to hit stores this month -- I have had experience with the company's recent sets that use DLP technology and I can say that in terms of performance they're quite impressive. When done right (and this is not necessarily cheap), DLP can offer pretty much state-of-the-art picture quality for home theater, as evidenced by the fact that most movie theaters are using it for digital projection.
DLP doesn't suffer from the lag effect problems that can make you dislike your LCD set, where fast motion seems to blur or pixellate on the screen. There's no need for artificial cures, like pumped up digital refresh rates that you'll see in many sets to combat the problem (though some of the new Mitsubishi models have them anyway; the market has spoken).
Unlike plasma, there's never an issue with picture burn-in with DLP, and plasma sets don't come in this many screen sizes. DLP is bright enough, detailed enough and now energy efficient enough to arguably be called the best available home theater technology, at least until OLED becomes mainstream and eventually, affordable. That's going to take at least 4-5 years.
But then there's that form factor. Even though these sets are much slimmer than predecessors like my old dinosaur Pioneer (now landfill), rear-projection DLP TVs are still a couple of feet deep. They won't hang on the wall. They take up substantial floor space in any room. They're a big piece of gear.
Does that matter to you? If so, there are about a zillion flat panels out there which do away with that problem.
Is picture quality more important to you than a couple of feet of depth? Then rear-projection DLP is still very much worth checking out. And since Mitsubishi is the last hombre standing with this technology, that means it's worth checking out the Mitsubishis.
I'm looking forward to it myself. There are 11 different models ranging in price, screen size and features in the Mitsubishi's lineup. You can see their press announcement here.