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HP MediaSmart SL4278N LCD HDTV Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 April 2008
ImageThe Basics:
HP’s 2007 LCD lineup consists of four 1080p models: two 42-inchers and two 47-inchers. These four models utilize the same TV technologies and should perform similarly. The SL4278N includes HP’s MediaSmart function, which adds a broadband Internet connection and a built-in digital media receiver that allows you to stream music, photos and video from compatible Windows PCs and UPnP servers over your home network. Through the broadband connection, you can stream Internet radio and rent/buy movies directly via the TV, with no PC required. You can add the TV to your network through the Ethernet port or wirelessly via 802.11a/b/g/n.

Last year’s HP LCDs were heavily based on Sharp LCD technology and consequently performed pretty well. These new models do not appear to be based on Sharp technology, and the change is not necessarily a good one for HP. On the plus side, the LC4776N has a healthy connection panel that includes three side-facing HDMI inputs that accept both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24. Unfortunately, this TV offers only the most basic picture adjustments, like preset picture modes and color temperature settings. There’s no adjustable backlight to tailor the light output to your viewing environment, no direct access to white-balance controls, and no advanced color management options. A Power Saver function reduces power consumption when the TV is in standby mode. The SL4278N has a solid number of aspect ratio options, as well as automatic aspect ratio detection; however, it lacks a pixel-for-pixel mode for viewing 1080i/1080p sources with zero overscan. The TV sports a glossy-black frame, with a speaker bar positioned along the bottom of the panel.

The Upside:
Color and detail are the SL4278N’s strongest attributes, and the TV performs best with HD sources. Its high light output and non-reflective screen make it a better fit for a bright room. The MediaSmart feature is convenient and easy to use, and the addition of 802.11n allows for more reliable wireless streaming of high-definition video.

The Downside:
This TV suffers from common LCD issues: its black level and viewing angle are only average, and the screen has some uniformity issues. Limited picture adjustments give you limited ability to fine-tune the image quality.

The MediaSmart functions are nice; however, given the SL4278N’s average picture performance and very limited features, it’s difficult to recommend this product. You can find better-performing 42-inch HDTVs for less money and simply add an external digital media receiver.

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