Excellent image quality, attractive design, good menus, numerous control settings
Slow remote control response
I've read a lot of LCD TV reviews over several months. I've noticed that most people with negative comments about their new LCD TV complain about factors unrelated to the TV itself: lock ups, poor tuning of HDTV broadcasts, image quality problems, etc. Most of these problems are ... Read full review
I've read a lot of LCD TV reviews over several months. I've noticed that most people with negative comments about their new LCD TV complain about factors unrelated to the TV itself: lock ups, poor tuning of HDTV broadcasts, image quality problems, etc. Most of these problems are introduced by improper setup of DVD players, video game consoles, antennas, and the TV's own image settings. Household power fluctuations also cause problems for these TVs since they are more like a PC inside instead of a conventional TV (a power conditioner can solve this). Garbage in, garbage out. For the most part, a decent LCD TV will display excellent images once people take the time to check and adjust their setup. No TV will perform magic on crappy inputs.
That said, I did a lot of research looking for the best 32” LCD HDTV. Our primary use is to watch DirecTV and DVD movies and so excellent image quality (including low black levels), various video inputs, and plenty of display settings (for image calibration) are important. We also wanted a TV that has an attractive exterior design and that included a built-in HDTV tuner. Our target price was $1000.
After reading dozens of reviews, I was leaning towards Panasonic or Sharp. Samsung and Sony also have several good models, if a bit pricey. I decided to check them all at our local retailer (BB).
The store had all of their LCD TVs lined up together allowing for a good comparison. I compared 32” models from Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba, Sharp, Westinghouse, and a few others. The Sharp had a good image (after some tweaking) but it was bulky and its “piano black” finish reflected everything in sight. The Sharp’s menu system looked like something from a cheap PC monitor and did not speak of quality. The Panasonic and Toshiba were decent but their silver plastic housings were unattractive. The Samsung and Sony have excellent image quality but with side-by-side comparisons, I could see no standout performance that justified their higher price tags.
And here was the unexpected surprise: the Westinghouse 32w6. Of all the TVs on the shelf, this one had the cleanest design and excellent, natural looking image quality. In fact, after tweaking several of the other TVs, the Westinghouse was as good as the Sony or Samsung. Its images are crisp with very low black levels thanks to an obviously high-quality LCD panel, ATI Xilleon 240H video processor, and adjustable backlight. It’s also a very slim design with a thin perimeter frame (solidly constructed) colored a matte-finish dark gray/black with a dark silver trim along the sides and bottom. It looks and feels like a quality product. The menu system looks like graphic arts professionals designed it –simple, elegant, clean, with just the right cascading menu effect. The remote control is very effective and includes individual buttons for selecting each video input as well as backlight adjustment.
Besides having all the normal image controls, the Westinghouse has a 50-step adjustable backlight and a user-defined color temperature setting. The “Warm” color setting is equivalent to D6500 color temperature (optimum for home theater). You can set up custom labels for all your video inputs (it has at least one of each type) and you can even turn off the blue LED power light on the front panel if you find it distracting. This was the best set on the shelf, in my opinion, so I bought one on the spot.
Setting up the 32w6 was a breeze since the pedestal base is already installed when you pull it out of the box (the unit is well packaged, by the way). It was plugged in and running in five minutes. I ran the 32w6 through the paces of my calibration DVD (Digital Video Essentials) and was amazed at how few adjustments I had to make out-of-the-box. In fact, I have to believe that the 32w6 is carefully calibrated at the factory because the default image settings required very few changes after switching to Warm color temperature. As for video performance, the black level is excellent for an LCD and I can’t detect any ghosting on fast images. The 32w6 (like Sony, Samsung, and others) uses ATI’s Xilleon 240H video processor chip for state-of-the-art performance from multiple video inputs. ATI’s website reveals that almost every major manufacturer (including JVC, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba) uses ATI video chips in their LCD HDTVs. The images from an HD or DVD source are simply amazing. Widescreen LCDs can also “stretch” the normal SD image to fill the screen, if you so desire, to get more viewable area.
Since it’s nearly impossible to evaluate the quality of the TV’s speakers in the store, I was pleasantly surprised at the good sound quality and separation at moderate volumes and it’s about as good as it gets for a 10W+10W setup. And while it’s always possible that any LCD-based device will have (or develop) one or more stuck/dead pixels (no matter the manufacturer) I’m happy to report that my 32w6 has a flawless display with no pixel problems anywhere.