The world of televisions is really changing rapidly. Two years ago, you could walk into a major electronics retailer, and there were lots and lots of CRT televisions. Today, most of the rear projection TVs are LCD and DLP, plasmas are everywhere, and now the CRT tube television in the traditional 36-inch and smaller sizes are being encroached upon by LCD flat panel televisions.
Prices for larger LCD panels have been dropping precipitously since Syntax introduced the first low-cost, 30-inch LCD television last year, one that I favorably reviewed. Now Syntax has introduced an entire line of new televisions in larger sizes with a new look and new features.
The LT32HV is a 32-inch LCD panel with a new black casing, a blue-lit Olevia in the front and even a new remote. It is a television monitor with built-in dual NTSC tuners, but not a high def ATSC tuner. Its spec sheet reads very nicely, thank you. The panel has an 8ms response time, which is class-leading and significantly better than the 12ms time generally agreed on that allows for a panel that has pixels quick enough so motion ghosting is not a problem. It is a 16:9 panel that has a 1200:1 contrast ratio, and is HDTV-ready with a 1366 x 768 pixel array. It has two built-in 15 watt speakers on each side, and, unlike the LT30, these speakers are not removable.
Connectivity of this panel is a high point. There are two component inputs: one Y/Pb/Cb and one Y/Pr/Cr. Other video inputs include three S-Video inputs, two composite inputs, one RF input, one VGA, and one DVI-I input. There is even a very small - but very nice - innovation above the connectivity panel: a built-in light to illuminate it. Absolutely brilliant (pun intended), but why has it taken so long for someone to add this one small feature so a flashlight isn't necessary?
The remote control is all-new also, and much nicer looking than the previous models. The keys are large and easy to use (rare among remotes these days), and are also clearly labeled. Unfortunately, it is not backlit. I have never been a fan of extra keys hidden under a slide panel; it just makes it to hard to reach them, even though it makes the remote look cleaner. There was one curious ergonomic quirk - when using the Select Source key, you must select the source by using the Enter button, not the button in the middle of the navigation keys. Although the center button is clearly marked Menu, in the age of DVD navigation menus I constantly hit the Menu button as an Enter button. Perhaps Syntax could take a look at that, and switch the Enter and Menu buttons.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
The setup menus are very straightforward, with picture controls that allow not only for the normal color controls, but also individual red/green/blue color controls (which actually came in handy). There is also a sleep feature, an alarm feature and normal parental controls.
I set the LT32HV up with the Scientific Atlanta HD8300 high definition cable/DVR box, via component and HDMI/DVI crossover cable, and with a Denon 755 DVD player via DVI. Cables used were Tributaries component and Wireworld DVI/HDMI.
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The LT32 displayed a bright, clean picture with both sources, but out
of the box it had a significant amount of red and green push. Although
the previous LT30 I reviewed had a fair bit of red push that had to be
dialed out, with the LT32 everyone looked sunburned and seasick at the
same time. After some tweaking with Video Essentials, I was able to get
a satisfactorily accurate picture. This is a bright, punchy display
panel with a fairly crisp picture. Much of the scaling was done by the
sources, but on 480i material the de-interlacer did a good job of
eliminating motion artifacts, and in making the people look real rather
than like wax mannequins. Where the LT32 falls short, like many LCD
panels, is in black level. I found the LT30 to have a fairly good black
level for an LCD; but I thought the LT32 was a bit weaker in this area.
Although not even close to the weakest black level I have seen with LCD
panels, it still was a little weaker than I had hoped. Combined with
that is the lack of detail in black areas, but that in itself is a
bugaboo found in all LCD panels.
High definition sources were very crisp, clean and well-detailed, as
they should be on a 1366 x 768 panel. Here the black level was better;
but there was still a bit of loss in black detail compared to the best
LCDs I have seen. Watching the many dark scenes of the TV show 24 was
much easier when I completely turned out the lights so I could bring
out as much of the dark detail as possible.
DVI connections also helped bring out the best dark detail. DVDs with
the DVI connection were particularly punchy, clean and clear. I used
the upscaling Denon player set to 720p, and the picture was
consistently smooth and artifact-free. Black level was definitely
better here with the DVI connection.
The LT32HV is another breakthrough product for the LCD field. This is a
well-engineered, expensive-looking, 32-inch LCD television for a
bargain basement price. Although the picture needed some significant
initial calibration, and although the black level is not as good as in
some of the best LCDs, when the quality of picture and of the unit
itself is put into context with the price (I have seen street prices as
low as $1,300!), the LT32HV is a total bargain. Considering the fact
that this 32-inch panel with its extra features is now available at a
price similar to the 30-inch price just last year, it is amazing how
far this industry has come. I fully expect that the CRT tube TV will go
the way of the dodo within a couple of years at this rate of progress.
LT32HV 32" LCD Television
32" 16:9 Cinema-Style Widescreen Aspect Ratio
HDTV Display Ready (480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i)
1200:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio
1366 x 768 Resolution
8ms Response Time
Dual Built-in TV Tuner
HDTV, Progressive Scan Input
178-degree Wide Viewing Angles
VGA (DB15) and DVI-I/HDCP