At a Glance
HP MD5880n 58" DLP Projection TV (16:9, HDTV)
DLP set aced our image-quality tests handily, and has unique, easily accessible front-mounted ports.
When thinking about big-screen TVs, the name Hewlett-Packard usually doesn't come to mind. But based on our tests of the company's 58-inch MD5880n DLP set, maybe that perception should change.
Our newfound high regard stems from the set's great performance in our image-quality tests, where it easily beat the other two 1080p TVs in our test group, the JVC HD-56FH56 and the Mitsubishi WD-62628. HP touts its 'Wobulation' technology, in which the TV is supposed to display a better image by projecting two slightly overlapping, shifting images. We're usually skeptical of such claims, especially if it comes with a cute name, but the MD5880n ($4000 as of 1/20/06) showed the widest range of contrast by far, with both deep blacks and well-illuminated shadows. Its colors looked accurate, too. It does have a relatively narrow angle of view, however, as do all rear-projection sets.
Usually, you have to crawl behind your TV to connect devices to it, but the HP puts its ports on the front of the set, behind a large flip-down panel; a light illuminates the ports so you can see which port is which. You still must snake cables through the underside of the chassis, though. The lamp is also located under the same front panel for easy access.
The MD5880n has two HDMI ports, two sets of components inputs, and a VGA port; it will accept 1080p sources through any of those. We tested with 1080i and 720p high-definition content because 1080p content isn't yet available. The set does not provide any digital audio outputs, but the built-in speakers are powerful, with good separation (partly because they reside on the sides of this very large TV).
The uniquely shaped remote control is pretty slick-looking, and it's comfortable to use, with fluid-moving buttons. Those buttons aren't lit, but they're labeled with white text. One button activates a mode that shows live feeds from all the input sources--a nice function, except that it's slow.
Of the 1080p HDTV sets we've tested, the MD5880n offers the most for your money.
One of the best big-screen TVs we've seen, with great image quality and features, including front-mounted ports.