|Dell W1900 LCD HDTV|
|Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs LCD HDTVs|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 01 November 2005|
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Since this monitor can function as a computer screen, I took a feed from my Compaq PC laptop and connected it to the VGA input on the TV. My laptop already has widescreen aspect ratio, so seeing the screen on the TV was not a shocker, but for those of you who are used to a regular square CRT monitor, the widescreen look of your computer desktop is a cool change, giving you enough space to put two full websites side by side. It worked quite well as a computer monitor, except for one little hiccup that I will tell you about next.
My biggest knock on this TV is that the VGA and DVI input cannot be connected at the same time. If you have a computer plugged into the VGA connector and a satellite receiver or a DVD player plugged into the DVI connector at the same time, the TV doesn’t like this and neither item will work until you unplug one or the other. This leads me to believe the two inputs share some internal components, which would make sense, as the two inputs are side by side on the bottom of the TV. The instruction manual alludes more to people using that input for connecting their computer, rather than as part of a home theater set-up. However, the entire reason I put this TV in my system was the fact that it was one of the few 19-inch LCD TVs with a tuner and speakers I found that actually had a DVI input. With the satellite receiver hooked up to the DVI input, I am now not able to use it with my laptop computer as a monitor unless I unhook the DVI cable. If you have your computer hooked up via DVI or VGA, you can use the picture in picture to watch any of the other inputs simultaneously while on the computer, but it’s a shame the DVI and VGA inputs can’t operate independently of each other at the same time.
Powering up the TV takes a few seconds and, although this is not anything close to the nearly one full minute that my JVC rear projection TV takes, it is a little annoying to have to wait for the picture to come on. I found this to be most troublesome when a friend of mine would yell, “Hey did you see that punch?” during a boxing match while I was in the kitchen and I’d rush to turn the set on to catch the instant replay. Of course, the pause button on a DVR can solve this problem, but you’ll want to be aware that it takes a little time for the picture to show up when turning on the set.
The menus of the TV, although clean and well laid-out, can be a little difficult to navigate. It’s not always obvious which icon gets you back to the previous level and it is different on several of the sub-menus. Also, when you accidentally hit the button to scan the inputs, there can be a long delay as the TV looks for new components, even if you haven’t attached anything new to the TV since the last scan. The nice thing about this feature is that it grays out the ones that aren’t in use on the menu onscreen, but you’ll want to be sure you don’t accidentally hit this button on the remote or the side of the TV.
Looking into the future, having only a DVI input may cause problems for those who want to use this set as their HDTV monitor, with devices like HD-DVD and or Blu-ray that are HDCP-compliant. Early reports show many DVI-based products struggle to make the needed “handshake” to connect high-resolution HDTV signals from their source to the monitor. If you are just watching “The Price is Right” in standard definition, this is of no interest. If you are worried about this set being the cornerstone of your HDTV theater, you might look for one that has an HDMI input, which is guaranteed to work with the HDCP copy protection.
Small LCD TVs are rarely used as a primary viewing display. They are usually used in situations like mine, where they are just there to have a small TV in the kitchen to watch while you’re cooking or in an office to listen to a sporting event while working on something else. This being said, the W1900 is a much better performer in this category than I would have expected. It’s not a perfect set, but I can’t think of a better $600 flat panel TV. Sure, you can get a much larger CRT HD set for about $200 more, but much of what you are getting with this Dell is great performance in a small package.