ViewSonic N3260w LCD HDTV Review
George Graves, March 28, 2006
ViewSonic is a well-known and well-respected computer monitor manufacturer who has decided to apply their skills to the area of high-definition home video with a line of wide-screen LCD HDTVs/monitors ranging in size from 32" to 40". Our focus in this review is the 32" N3260w NextVision.
The N3260w is a thin-screen monitor measuring 32.3" wide, by 25.6" high, by 9.1" deep (820 mm x 650 mm x 230 mm). It weighs 48.5 pounds (22 kg) and is designed to fit upon a stand (supplied) or to be hung on a wall.
ViewSonic has incorporated a 10-bit digital de-interlacing technology called DNX™ to give a film-like presentation to the picture and this works very well, especially on non-progressive images such as those broadcast over the air or satellite at 480i.
The N3260w supports SRS TruSurround XTTM, a technology developed by SRS Labs. TruSurround simulates a digital surround sound environment with two speakers and can provide dimension to your audio experience provided you're sitting in the "sweet spot." However, it is not a substitute for a 5.1 or 6.1 surround sound system.
One of the concerns with LCD technology when talking about television is LCD response time. Many LCDs are simply too slow to respond for this application. If you have ever used an LCD monitor on a computer, you likely noticed the "ghost trail" of pointer images that follow the cursor around the screen as one moves the mouse quickly. ViewSonic has managed to decrease the response time of the LCDs used in this line of TV monitors to 8ms making it impossible to notice any LCD ghosting artifacts.
Contrast ratios for LCD HDTVs and monitors range from 400:1 to as high as 3000:1 with most, including the N3260w, at 800:1. The life of the backlight of the N3260w is 60,000 hours, which is the current standard of performance. This would last you 41 years if your viewing was 4 hours a day.
The anti-glare glass surface of the N3260w LCD makes viewing in a lighted room a joy. There is virtually no glare at any angle of view. The N3260w also boasts an LCD viewing angle of 170 degrees off-axis both horizontally and vertically. This reviewer didn't measure the monitor to substantiate this claim, but it does look good from any angle in my viewing room and the picture doesn't change at all when standing up with the monitor set at eye-level for a seated audience.
|ViewSonic N3260w HD LCD Monitor
The ViewSonic N3260w is an HDTV capable set as opposed to HDTV ready as it does have a built-in digital tuner. The N3260w is rather restricted in its I/O capabilities when compared to many modern sets, but you must keep
|Audio and Video|
in mind that ViewSonic is a computer monitor manufacturer, and even this LCD TV line is geared toward that task. The standard VGA
jack on this set is designed to support a myriad of computer resolutions from 720 x 400 all the way up to 1360 x 768 with available refresh rates of 60, 70, and 75 Hz
, making this monitor a true multisync display.
Besides the two RF inputs for antenna and TV cable, the N3260w has two composite video inputs as well as two S-VHS (C-Y) inputs. For HDTV and progressive-scan DVD players, the N3260w has two sets of PbPrY component inputs along with two pairs of stereo audio inputs to accompany them. The standard VGA input also has a so-called mini-phone jack accompanying it for connection to a PC. The ViewSonic display has one HDMI (HDCP) input that can support either HDMI or a DVI input from a PC or other device. Outputs are restricted to one stereo pair of RCA jacks for feeding TV audio to a sound system.
Most of the I/O for this set is located behind a door on the back of the TV. The main (AC) cord is vertically mounted in a recess along with the PC VGA connector and the two RF inputs. An RS-232 connector is accessible, but apparently dedicated for "manufacturing use only." The rest of the A/V I/O is situated behind the door making wall mounting somewhat awkward.
|HDMI & VGA|
The N3260w has a full range of controls mounted on the right-hand side of the screen frame. These controls step you through the on-screen menus to allow selection of parameters to be changed. The legend for the controls is somewhat hard to see as the markings are molded into the black plastic that comprises the TV's cabinet structure.
Using the "Video Essentials" DVD, the N3260w was calibrated according to NTSC specifications for contrast (white level), brightness (black level), color intensity and hue. All of these adjustments are accomplished using on-screen menus which are well laid-out and extremely easy to use. Not surprisingly, the factory settings were so close as to render the calibration procedure all but unnecessary.
The N3260w comes with a full-function remote control, that, satisfyingly, uses the long-lasting and ubiquitous double-A batteries instead of the often used Triple-As, which last about one-third as long, are harder to find and are often more expensive. All functions, including calibration procedures can be readily performed using the remote control.
The ViewSonic LCD screen is, like most flat panels available today, limited to only 768 interlaced lines of vertical resolution. This falls somewhat short of the 1080 interlaced lines and slightly more than 720 progressive lines which fulfill the ATSC's (Advanced Television Standards Committee) definition of HDTV. This means that all signals are either down-converted (from 1080i) to 768 or up-converted from 480 and 720 to 768. While the N3260w will display true HDTV pictures, it won't display them at their actual resolution. Nevertheless, the picture is pleasing. It is sharp and the color fidelity is very good with little bleed and no over saturation. There is a wide range of adjustment available to suit almost any source material, and there were no apparent artifacts in any program material experienced during this review.
LCD is not only the most popular flat-screen display technology for use as a computer monitor, but it is also the king of the 32-40 inch TVs with 165 product offerings compared to 7 plasma products. ViewSonic has shown, with this line of NextVision monitors, that with increases in display response time, display size and resolution, it can compete in the home theater market.
If you're in the market for a dual purpose display in the 32" to 40" size, the ViewSonic N3260w is a competitive offering with a street price of around $1,200.