Justin Case takes the wraps off a hot new LCD from Philips!
- By Justin Case
There are very few things that can incite an excited fervor in my home faster than a big new HD LCD. When Philips called me up and requested that I overnight their 23" LCD back, you could cut the depression around my house with a knife. What were we to do? How would we survive without that great image quality, fine form-factor and just utter coolness?
Well, my friends, the answer arrived late yesterday afternoon. Yes, ask and ye shall receive! The fine folks at Philips have sent forth another fantastic representative of their HD LCD lineup, the 32" HD LCD with PixelPlus 2 and Amblight!
If you haven't yet experienced Amblight... well... let me tell you. For something that would otherwise seem so totally unnecessary, you'd be surprised how cool it can be (more on this later).
So, the box (the big box) shows up at my house 2 days early. Can you imagine a more exciting event than to get a cool new HD LCD ... 2 days before you're supposed to?!?! My wife says that she really couldn't care less about cool new electronics. Well, ladies and gentlemen, fine readers and fans... I'm here to tell you that she's totally full of sh*t! She was, I think, if possible, more excited about the arrival of this fine new set than I was! As I drove up to our humble abode, she raised the garage. The reveal was something straight out of the movies... As the overhead door rolled up, it seemed to crest as if in slo-mo. There, aside the wall... freshly delivered by courier, sat the box containing the 32" HD LCD.
As you can probably imagine, Christmas doesn't even hold has much gift-borne joy as does the pleasure of taking the wraps off of a big new LCD! So excited were we, we couldn't hardly get through dinner... The nervous excitement, palpabale across the table, the whole family awaiting the unveiling.
Shortly after feasting, we adjourned to unpack and assemble the hardware. Now, these fine LCDs, of course, look the very best when mounted, lovingly -- like fine art, on the wall. However, when you keep these sets for 30-90 days, it seems a bit overkill to construct an entire brace and mount system on the wall that is capable of suspending nearly 50 pounds of LCD. So... instead, we prepare the fine glass table-stand that comes with the set.
WOW! This is one big, hot-looking LCD. This LCD has better lines than the SHARP sets and is probably the second-best looking LCD (exterior lines, only) to the Sony line-up. Elegant, with black, silver and glass, this panel is, at once, high-tech and very classy. This set would add the final touch of elegance to any room in need of both fine art and high-tech viewing pleasure.
Now, I will say that installing and setting up an LCD over the 30" range is not a project to undertake when you only have 15 minutes or so before your 3 young kids head off to bed. So, after the kids were safely and lovingly shuttled off to bed, we set about the full project of setting-up this fine, new set.
First, you have your mounting options and your table-stand. As I mentioned above, we opted for the table-stand, both for faster box-to-viewing satisfaction and for the less permanent nature of the set-up since, as will of course be the case, Philips will - one day - call me up and ask me to return this great new set. Now, with demo units, you do tend to have problems that you won't have with a new, out-of-the-box purchased set. First, there are the few scratces and blemishes on the set. This one had a few screen scratches and some around the exterior of the case. No biggie. We pressed on. The next little hurdle is that sometimes previous reviewers will keep a few of the more-or-less essential parts. In this instance, we were short a little mounting "grommet" on the back. With the help of a trusty tool from my box in the garage, we were, however, able to reposition one of the other pieces of mounting hardware to accommodate our preferred installation.
Hardware set, we press on to the cabling. With a plethora of inputs for HD and standard video, this set gives you a lot of choices. The one criticism I would levy against this set is that once you've set up the table-stand, you have a pretty difficult task of craning your neck around to see the various different connections under and behind the set. Not to be deterred, I toiled with the connections, quickly getting everything except my DISH video working. Yes, the progressive can from the DVD hooked up and played without even a glance at the instructions. However, after connecting the AV1 (for the satellite) the way I thought it should be, I had to succumb to the instruction manual's guidance and move the cable for the video (yes, the yellow one that you'd think would go in the yellow connection) to a different "port" (the green one marked "Y").
Cool... now we've got it running. Power, picture, audio. All we need!
So we kick it on...Yeah, umm... Didn't work. Ahhh there was a problem. A power button on the top of the unit that throws the item into standby power mode so you can actually power it up with the remote. So now we've got that out of the way. Lights, camera... DAMN!!! Amblight on, shades of blue flickering into red and blending into yellows as the images flicker thorugh the satellite and onto the screen.
Shock... and ... Awe. Yeah, baby. This thing has a definite WOW factor. It is the essence of cool. As you flip through the channels, the first thing you notice is that the picture is bright and amazing... and huge. This 32" HD LCD seems so much larger than its CRT counterparts -- if for no other reason than its presence.
So, I settled-in for my Monday night episode of 24. Hmmmm... This set is so bright and, with standard-defnition signal off a non-HD satellite tuner, this set gives my beloved real-time serial a definitively home video feel. Wow. I'm bummed. Maybe its just that particular episode. So, I tossed another Monday network-TV commercial-fest onto the screen. This time, NBC's Medium. DAMN! This weekly had the same problem. A distinctly home video feel. Pretty disappointing. Not enough that I don't still enjoy these shows. However, it definitely changes the nature of what you watch and it will make you feel different about your dramatic serials.
To end the evening on a higher note, I tossed in The Chronicles of Riddick. I checked out a few minutes before I swapped it for Shrek 2. This is where this set shines. This HD LCD is a movie machine. Pumping progressive scan onto this LCD is to let it fully satisfy you. This is what this set was made for. High resolution video of the disc mated with a simu-surround audio and that Amblight... VERY cool!
I'll bring more to you soon. This is just the first impression if the machine and the set up. I'll be watching a lot of discs and will be delivering ongoing opinion on the set as my DVD reviews unfold.