How I came across the Syntax Olevia 30-inch LCD television is an interesting story... I have two separate theaters -- one at home and one in my laser center. I am setting up a plasma display in my office at the center, and will also probably put in a two-channel audio system.
Nowhere do I have a LCD (except for computer displays), and the only thing that approaches a LCD television is the Planar computer monitor in my home office/guest room that has the add-on module that converts it to a television. I started thinking it would be nice to have a better television in my bedroom, and this made for an ideal reason to look at LCD televisions. For those of you that have been watching LCD evolve, it has taken up the smaller end of the flat panel spectrum, topping out at 40-45 inches while plasma has taken up the larger end of the spectrum. Although there are indications that larger LCD panels will arrive, compete with and possibly even replace plasma in the future (larger LCD panels that have been shown actually have a 1920x1080 pixel array, making for true 1080p!), at the current time LCD dominates the smaller end of the market and looks set over time to replace direct view CRT televisions. One look at a sleek 22- or 30-inch LCD television, and the normal CRT television looks ridiculously ungainly.
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Unfortunately, LCD prices are still up there. Although the absolutely wonderful 40-inch Samsung LCD I reviewed earlier this year was a spectacular unit, the price exceeds that of a slightly larger 43-inch plasma, and many LCD monitors end up being more expensive than a larger plasma. 22-inch LCDs typically retail in the neighborhood of $2,000 and 30-inch LCDs are in the $3,500 - $4,000 range. Although many of these larger LCDs can do true high def with a 1280x720 pixel array, it can be hard to justify a $4,000 30-inch LCD when it is possible at many stores today to get a HD 42- or 43-inch plasma for not much more. So you can imagine my surprise when I was flipping through an online website, looking at some computer equipment, when I noticed the Syntax Olevia 30-inch LCD for $1,799! The first thing I thought was, "What's the catch? It's gotta be a piece of crap." I called ecost.com, got the phone number for Syntax, and called them up. After asking a few questions, I revealed that I write for HDTV ETC., and next thing you knew I was on the phone with the Syntax Group's president. He very graciously offered me a unit for review, and within a week a 30-inch LCD showed up at my door.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
I was still full of trepidation when I set this unit up, as it costs less than half of other 30-inch LCDs. In fact, this retail price was even below the dealer cost of most 30-inch LCD televisions. I needn't have worried. This is a very handsome piece. The speakers and base stand are an integral part of the unit, it has a very nice, expensive-looking aluminum surround and finish, and frankly, the Olevia name with an umlaut above the "O" printed on the top right of the panel makes it look as if it is a European brand. The Syntax name only appears on the base. There is a central remote sensor with a blue LED that encircles it. The LED is actually lit when the TV is in standby mode and turns off while you are watching it. Other nice touches abound, such as two component inputs (one YPbPr, one YCbCr), one S-Video, one composite, and a coaxial input for the built-in NTSC tuner. There is also a computer VGA input, as well as a DVI-D input. This is a full complement of the necessary inputs, as even the new HDMI input can be converted to the DVI-D input. Fit and finish of this television was excellent, on par with $4,000 products.
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