The popularity of flat-panel plasma and LCD TVs has essentially relegated large-screen rear-projection TVs (RPTVs) to an afterthought, In fact, only one manufacturer -- Mitsubishi -- makes RPTVs. But if you want a really big television, you can get a gargantuan 92-inch Mitsubishi projection TV for less than $6,000. LCD and plasma TVs aren't available in a size that big, for the consumer market. For those with smaller spaces, you can get a 73-inch Mitsubishi RPTV for about $1,600 -- less than flat-panel TVs in similar or smaller screen sizes. On the downside, you can't hang an RPTV on the wall, and there are a couple of other drawbacks, including the so-called rainbow effect and the need to change the lamp every couple of years (with most models).
Mitsubishi rear-projection TVs use a technology called DLP; DLP projection TVs shoot light through a spinning color wheel onto nearly a million tiny mirrors, which in turn flash the color on the screen to produce an image. One significant drawback to this technique is called the rainbow effect, which appears as a multicolored shadow around an object. The seriousness of this problem is subject to some debate. Only a small percentage of the population can see rainbows in the first place, and advances in technology have minimized it. Some of those who can see it say it's not a big deal, but others say it ruins the TV watching experience and, in severe cases, gives rise to eyestrain, headaches and the like. In any event, if you're not sure whether you can see DLP rainbows, auditioning a set in a showroom might be a good idea.
Mitsubishi has been on board with 3D longer than most TV makers, and all of its current projection TV offerings include 3D capabilities. However, you'll need to spring for 3D glasses separately (*Est. $70 each) to take advantage of that. In the case of Mitsubishi's least-expensive offerings, such as the WD-640 series, you also need to buy a starter kit that includes one pair of glasses and a 3D adapter (*Est. $100).
Mitsubishi RPTVs also have access to what the company is calling Stream TV, its version of Internet connectivity. However, the content lineup is limited compared to what's available via most Internet capable LCD and plasma TVs. Stream TV is powered by Vudu, which offers a rich library of pay-per-view movies and a wide assortment of content from other providers via its apps platform. However, there are also some major omissions, including no Netflix support.
Professional coverage of 2012 Mitsubishi's rear-projection TVs is yet to appear. However, there is a some user feedback on several of these sets, including user-written reviews at Amazon.com, TigerDirect.com, Walmart.com and QVC.com. However, the best guidance comes from several discussion threads at AVSForum.com. You'll find a host of questions, answers and opinions from novice and experienced owners who have spent a little time with these TVs.