The 2004 HD Rear-Projection Face Off Page 3
Yes, that Gateway. About a year ago, the computer manufacturer made a real splash in the video world by releasing a frighteningly inexpensive 42-inch plasma. This year, they're aiming at the RPTV market with this 56-inch DLP. The result was a pleasant surprise. I say surprise because the Gateway plasma that was in our March 2003 Face Off finished in last place.
For their first RPTV, Gateway fared much better. Don't let its middle-of-the-pack showing fool you; there was a lot to like about this TV. First of all, everyone loved the detail that this set was capable of. No matter what the source, each reviewer made a comment about the detail. In fact, this was one of the few times that the same comment came up on everyone's evaluation sheet. Chris thought that it had among the highest detail levels in the Face Off, saying that the images had sharp edges and faces were extremely clear.
Unfortunately, there were some downsides. First was the black level. Not surprisingly (at least for the fixed-pixel-based devices), the black level was fairly high. It was higher than all of the CRTs but among the lowest of the fixed-pixel displays. The other main problem was a fair amount of noise in the picture. Several reviewers reported a graininess that they didn't see in the other TVs. Neither of these issues prevented many reviewers from ranking this TV among their top five on day one. It did calibrate to some extent, which prevented other TVs (even some that calibrated well) from slipping past it on day two and nudging it down the list. This was also one of the few TVs that reviewers said looked better with the lights on, which puts it more in the living-room TV category than the theater category.
It didn't win any beauty contests. The plain, black, plastic cabinet was unexciting and didn't seem to fit a nearly $4,000 product. The remote, on the other hand, was excellent, with a beautiful blue backlighting and golden color. It was easily one of the better remotes in the Face Off. The GTW-R56M103 also comes with a second remote to control its many picture-in-picture functions. This is rare for a TV yet very logical. It's also quite welcome for those people who don't mind a plethora of remotes on the coffee table. I have five (remotes, not coffee tables).
With the Gateway, you get a good screen size for your DLP dollar, although that doesn't necessarily mean that you're getting a good overall value. The picture quality is good, but the TV doesn't have a built-in HDTV tuner. Its black level is good for a fixed-pixel device, but its off-axis picture quality isn't great. While the Gateway ultimately fell behind the Samsung (another DLP), it fared better out of the box, with most of the panelists placing it above the Samsung on day one.
If you're not in the market for a CRT television, this DLP provides a larger screen size than the Samsung DLP for the same money while offering similar performance and all of the benefits of a non-CRT device. If you are looking for a big screen for your living room that you can play computer games on and not worry about burn-in, this is a solid choice.
GTW-R56M103 56-Inch HD Monitor $3,800
Dealer Locator Code GAT
HT Labs Measures: Gateway GTW-R56M103 HD Monitor
The top chart shows the gray scale of the GTW-R56M103 relative to its color temperature at various levels of intensity, or brightness (20 IRE is dark gray; 100 IRE is bright white). The gray scale as set by the factory, in the warm color-temperature mode, measures very blue with dark images and fairly red with brighter images. After making adjustments using the Photo Research PR-650, the gray scale still measures blue with darker images but is more accurate with brighter ones. The bottom chart shows the gray scale (or color temperature) relative to the color points of the display's red, green, and blue color-filter-wheel segments. Red (x=0.637, y=0.334), green (x=0.287, y=0.609), and blue (x=0.152, y=0.106) are slightly off those specified by SMPTE. Green is slightly bluish-green, and blue is slightly greenish-blue. The light output was approximately 27 foot-lamberts. The display has good DC restoration and a decent color decoder. The GTW-R56M103 displays approximately 460 lines (per picture height) with NTSC sources and, using our Leader LT-446 HD generator, is capable of resolving 720p and 1080i signals out to the limits of its 1,280-by-720 chip.—GM
Samsung HLN467W (DLP, $3,800)
Samsung has had several popular entries in the DLP RPTV market recently. While the latest incarnation, the HLN467W, was the smallest TV in the Face Off, it didn't let its small stature affect it, so neither did we. If 46 inches just isn't big enough for your room, keep in mind that Samsung offers several models with much larger screen sizes that should have similar picture quality.
While many of the TVs in the Face Off jockeyed for position between day one and day two, the Samsung stayed more or less in the same place: right in the middle. Its lack of movement seemed to have a lot to do with its color temperature and gray-scale tracking. Depending on what scene they were describing, some reviewers said that the picture was too blue (the dark scenes), and others thought that it was too red (the brighter scenes). This is a prime example of why it's better to have a consistent gray-scale response than one that is accurate with some light levels and not with others.
These comments only intensified on day two, so the calibration may have done more harm than good (although the TV did move up one notch in the rankings). After calibration, most of the gray scale measured more accurately, but the bottom end of the scale was further off than it had been prior to calibration. There seemed to be no way to avoid this. Still, people consistently ranked it higher on day two. The Samsung's black level was also poor, worse than that of the CRTs but better than that of the LCDs.
On the lighter side of things, its detail was excellent. Amy commented that the Samsung looked crisp and sharp, and you could see people's laugh lines and shirt wrinkles. She also thought that, overall, it had a vivid, colorful picture. In fact, many reviewers felt that the colors were quite realistic, but the color temperature was an unfortunate issue. Several reviewers also thought that the set performed best with HD material, when it was really able to show off its detail and color.
This set's design received top ranks. Jerry thought it looked like a chrome picture frame, while Amy felt that it was compact and tidy. Even in its larger-screen-size flavors, this Samsung line has a good aesthetic. For the most part, the remote is OK, but it isn't backlit, and it has one of the most annoying joysticks of any remote ever made. It feels flimsy, and you're never sure that you've fully pressed a button. One of the best features is the TV/video (source) button, which brings up a list of all the inputs. From this list, you can scroll through only those inputs that have something attached to them. Why can't they all be this easy?
All in all, the Samsung does a lot of things right; however, due to poor gray-scale tracking, it just couldn't rank higher. With no HDTV tuner and only 46 inches of screen size, it's also a little pricey at $3,800. As it's one of the most attractive TVs in the Face Off, this may be worth it.
HLN467W 46-Inch HD Monitor $3,800
Samsung Electronics America
Dealer Locator Code SAM
HT Labs Measures: Samsung HLN467W HD Monitor
The top chart shows the gray scale of the HLN467W relative to its color temperature at various levels of intensity, or brightness (20 IRE is dark gray; 100 IRE is bright white). The gray scale as set by the factory, in the warm2 color-temperature mode, measures very blue with dark images and less blue with brighter images. After making adjustments using the Photo Research PR-650, the gray scale measures extremely blue with the darkest images but tracks somewhat close to accurate (6,500 kelvin) throughout the rest of the gray scale. This is arguably an improvement compared with the performance before calibration; it's also arguably not. The bottom chart shows the gray scale (or color temperature) relative to the color points of the display's red, green, and blue color-filter-wheel segments. Red (x=0.652, y=0.335), green (x=0.299, y=0.667), and blue (x=0.147, y=0.065) are slightly off those specified by SMPTE. Green is oversaturated; to a lesser extent, so are red and blue. The light output was approximately 81 foot-lamberts. The display has good DC restoration and a good color decoder. The HLN467W displays out to DVD's limits and, using our Leader LT-446 HD generator, is capable of resolving 720p and 1080i out to the limits of its 1,280-by-720 chip.—GM