Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
The depth of LCD sets are a big selling point. Like their Plasma brethren, many LCD monitors can be wall mounted and have a small footprint when placed on a stand. The L30W26 is sleek and compact with a width only slightly larger than a 32-inch 4:3 direct view television. It has an attractive brushed silver cabinet with controls placed under the front display for uncluttered operation. The back has two decorative panels that, when removed, reveal two jack packs on either side of the center post. Attaching cables typically takes only a couple minutes, but with the Zenith it took much longer. The jacks of the L30W26 face in an awkward downward manner so connections have to be made either by feeling around or by tipping the set forward to get a better view of the connections and their labels. I chose the latter and tilted the unit forward even after consulting a diagram of the layout in the manual. The last thing I wanted was to ram an S-Video cable in upside down or cross component cables with one another only to troubleshoot it later. Once connected to a DVD source and broadcast signals from my TiVo digital video recorder, I started to play, er, test. I discovered that making adjustments is a breeze through the remote driven menu system.
As I stated before, this HDTV also works terrific as a computer monitor. My neighbor has three Saint Bernards, but I wanted to be the biggest dog on my block by attaching the 30-inch LCD HDTV monitor to my PC. After connecting the RS-232C signal cable from my trusty computer to the first of two RGB ports on the monitor, I set the resolution to 10240 X 768 for the best picture and ran through the auto configuration routine. Computer monitors commonly need their screen size, geometry and position adjusted for optimal viewing. The Zenith has PC adjustments built-in, along with an external control to turn off the monitor automatically. I spent quality time loading picture files and playing mpeg movies on my computer to take in the splendor of such a superb piece of equipment.
One of the shortcomings of LCD technology is a weak black level. I tested the Zenith first by viewing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone which has many scenes that have shades of black. One great test was with the wizard chess game that pitted Harry and his friends in a test against a mystical foe. Even though the black levels weren't truly black, they were satisfactory. I viewed other titles with contrasting color and black levels including Ice Age, Star Wars Episode IV and Lilo & Stitch. I found that by switching the color temperature, adjustments, I could fine tune the display to my taste. By changing to a warm setting, I brought out more red and green shades and more green and blue came across under the cool selection. Temperature controls can be user defined as well to fine tune the set to personal tastes.
Sometimes form outweighs function, as with the poorly placed rear panel connections. I can overlook the pain of connecting the set to other equipment because it's not often I have to rewire a television. Still, I would have liked to see inputs placed under the front panel to conveniently connect a video camera or gaming system. It makes more sense to simply plug a new component into the front rather than fight awkward rear jacks. That trade-off notwithstanding, this television really is an attractive piece of technology that looks amazing with the power both on and off.
Overall, the Zenith L30W26 is pleasing to the eye with vibrant color and a hightech design. The highest praise I can give the L30W26 is that I would buy one if I were in the market for a mid-sized LCD monitor.
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