What We Think
|After some tweaking, this LCD panel looked great on high-def sports, but less so with DVDs and regular TV channels|
You've got to hand it to LCD technology for its meteoric rise. Until recently, plasma ruled the home theater roost, but big flat-screen LCD sets now provide a viable alternative (check out our recent review of Sharp's 65-incher). More modest-size LCD models also abound, tempting us with features like 1080p resolution at an affordable price. With LCD accelerating so quickly, it's no surprise to find ViewSonic, a longtime maker of computer monitors, joining the game. The Viewsonic N4060w 40-inch LCD HDTV ($1,800 street price) is one of the largest models the company offers. With a price that low for a screen that large, it's certainly worth a look.
The N4060w's bottom-mounted speakers and charcoal-gray frame give it a compact, understated appearance. It doesn't look as snazzy as some other LCDs in its size range, but most of those models come from well-known TV companies that charge a hefty premium for them. A set of buttons for switching channels and inputs and adjusting volume is located on the TV's side. There's also a headphone output jack, but no A/V convenience input for hooking up a camcorder. I found the TV's included plastic table stand to be workably sturdy, but you could also use ViewSonic's optional wall mount ($150).
With HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc players joining satellite, cable, and terrestrial broadcasting as high-definition TV sources, it's important that your set have plenty of high-def inputs. Unfortunately, ViewSonic skimps in this area, offering only one HDMI input alongside a pair of component-video connections. There's a VGA-style input for connecting a computer, however - no surprise given the company's background in monitors. And since the TV has a built-in HDTV tuner for pulling in over-the-air digital broadcasts, there are also RF inputs for connecting an antenna.
ViewSonic's remote control is a bit on the flimsy side and lacks a backlit keypad for finding buttons in the dark. I found it strange that, despite the keypad being crowded with buttons, none let me control the set's picture-in-picture functions, which are fairly extensive and include side-by-side display and a transparency adjustment for the inset picture - a cool feature. Instead, you're forced to rummage around in the TV's setup menus to make any sort of PIP adjustments.
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