Zenith L30W26 30 Inch LCD HDTV Reviewed

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Call me crazy, but I love winter. Granted, I don't live in a cold climate and I'm not relegated to shovelling snow, which is a plus. But I look forward to colder weather, when the mountains are blanketed with the white powdery stuff and I can take a weekend to enjoy skiing.

I recently traveled to some of the greatest snow on earth in Utah. It was my first ski trip of the winter season, so I was a bit rusty and slow going for most of the day. Thankfully, I had another wonderful skiing experience free of injury and headed off the mountain to drive three hours to my home.

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Skiers and snowboarders will tell you that there's nothing better than finishing a hard day on the slopes bundled up around the fire with a hot drink. Those pleasant thoughts rattled around my head as I raced home, but they quickly disappeared when I walked up to my door and found a cardboard box lying in a puddle of water.

It seemed that my UPS delivery person left a package at my door without me being home. Now if the package was a knitted pot holder from my Aunt Eunice or a box of cookies I wouldn't have cared, but I was shocked to see a new Zenith 30-inch LCD HDTV covered in water by the sprinklers and visible to anyone walking along the street. I've had other packages "disappear" from my door in the past, and it would have been a real misdeed if an LCD television that retails at $7,999 found another home because a delivery person was too hurried to come back later.

Unique Features
The Zenith television at my door turned out to be a new L30W26 30-inch LCD HDTV monitor that didn't suffer ill effects from my sprinklers. It's an eye-catching television, but the first thing I noticed as I walked it in the house was the weight. With the cabinet only 3-inches deep and less than 22-inches tall, the Zenith is heavier than LCD units I have tested in the past. Officially, the television weighs in at just over 40 pounds, but I found that hard to believe so, like a prizefighter, I put the contender on a scale to confirm the claim. Once my skepticism was proven wrong, I found plenty of technology awaiting me. For starters, the L30W26 has an exceptional 1280 x 768 W-XGA high resolution that is suitable for both an HDTV set and a cornputer display. Yes, this screen works well as a computer display. Even though the majority of owners will likely use this Zenith in their living rooms or dens, the added benefit of being able to operate it as a monitor is significant.

The 16:9 screen lends itself well to a home theater setting. The flat LCD panel is viewable from 170 degrees which is easily seen from any seat in the room. A peak brightness of 450 candles per square meter translates into an incredibly bright picture even in intensely lit environments. I found the brightness quite impressive, even when natural light shown directly on the screen from a window. Moreover, 4H digital comb filter technology separates color data from black & white data better than LCDs of years past. This means true and accurate color images on top of the bright, sharp picture.

This LCD display isn't packaged with speakers since most owners will have likely have an integrated audio system waiting in the wings, but optional speakers are available from Zenith. Even so, an on-screen menu accesses an equalizer and other manual audio settings.

Since an extended display of still images can burn into a screen, the L30W26 has a screensaver to prevent permanent damage. The picture shifts every 10 minutes while you are on the phone with your stock broker or in the kitchen fixing a Dagwood sandwich. A single button on the remote control quickly changes from a 4:3 standard or stretched image to a 16:9 widescreen image. But perhaps the best feature is the zoom in/out adjustment. I was able to stop a movie, zoom in and pan left or right to see detailed writing or intricate details.

Read more on Page 2.

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