|Dell W1900 LCD HDTV|
|Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs LCD HDTVs|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 01 November 2005|
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Although I don’t watch this set for extended periods of time, many people will find this set large enough to use as a desktop system in an office or perhaps in a small bedroom system. Using the outstanding Integra DPS-10.5 DVD player, I watched some episodes from the first season of “Lost” (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), a disc that would challenge the black levels of any TV. Direct-view LCDs have an edge over plasmas and projection sets and on my large JVC set, the dark scenes in “Lost,” even via the HD over the air feed from ABC, are a struggle for my TV.
The airplane crash scene that happens in the opening episode is a spectacular example of special effects, sound effects and brilliant editing. The small pieces of the plane ripping apart and flying off the fuselage is unnerving, looks great on the Dell W1900 and sounds pretty damn scary, too, through the TV’s small speakers. As nightfall comes and the castaways are forced to huddle for shelter, I was looking forward to seeing if the dark picture would hold up on this set. The result was dramatically better black levels than my low-end Magnavox 15-inch sets and even better detail than my $2,500 JVC big screen. On those sets, the show “Lost” is a truly fitting name, as much of the detail of the characters’ clothing is lost in the dark backgrounds and only the bright spots from the campfire are what give the viewer a fighting chance at seeing any detail. The W1900’s black level performance was closer to a CRT set than I could get from the other sets in my home.
On the concert DVD Rush in Rio (Atlantic/Anthem), I paid particular attention to the accuracy of the set in terms of pixel refresh rate as drummer extraordinaire Neil Peart worked through the complex rhythms of this Canadian prog rock trio. The component input of the set was a nice match for the Integra DVD player and the picture on this quality widescreen music concert disc was vibrant and had some good depth for a fairly small screen. The picture seemed deep and more three-dimensional than most little TVs and the motion of Peart’s arms and sticks did not get blurry.
Having watched the majority of TV in the past year on my 61-inch rear-projection JVC D-ILA set, I was spoiled when it came to watching beautiful 720p and 1080i broadcasts. However, the standard definition feed from my satellite dish has always been a little disappointing. It basically ends up being a simple math equation: when you put a standard definition signal on a huge display device, any flaws in the picture are going to be magnified. On the Dell, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the standard definition signal from my satellite receiver via the DVI connection and the S-video connection from the second tuner on my Dish Network double-output 942 DVR looked smooth and didn’t suffer the same problem I have with my big set.
Watching horse racing on a standard definition channel like HGTV can be a disaster on many HDTVs, as the feed from the satellites at the tracks around the world tend to be of questionable quality, and on many TVs, there are choppy, pixilated blocks around the horses as they run around the track. This is minimized on the Dell, as I was able to discern nice detail between the horses as they were bunched up around the far turn on a replay of this year's Kentucky Derby. This seems implausible, but I think this set, besides looking great as an HD monitor, does a good job of making a bad signal look better than you are used to seeing if your eyes are accustomed to anything over a 42-inch display.
Watching sports on a low-end LCD can be painful, as the refresh rate of the screens tend to be slow. A baseball or football flying across the screen will seem glitchy and hard to follow. Even Fox’s famous glow puck wouldn’t be able to salvage a hockey game on a bad LCD. Motion artifacts on the Dell were minimal as I watched the undefeated USC Trojans keep their 28-game winning streak alive against Notre Dame with their last second, come from behind win. Grid lines on a football screen cause lots of dot crawl problems. With the HD feed going into the TV, these were barely noticeable. Switching to the non-HD feed required me to hit the “size” button on the remote to set the TV in 4:3 aspect ratio mode. Otherwise, the picture would have been stretched. The TV can be set in any of the following screen size modes: standard, zoom, 4:3, widescreen and full-screen. When changing from full screen to 4:3, gray bars fill the side of the screen.
Watching the game for a bit via the composite video input from my second tuner built into the Dish Network 942 satellite receiver, it was obvious that this is an inferior connection compared to the DVI input. However, the colors of the player uniforms, the green grass on the field and the detail of the fans in the stands were above average compared to similarly-priced sets that I have seen.