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Norcent LT-2722 27 LCD Widescreen Display

Plusses and minuses for this HD-ready TV By Guy Wright

The Norcent LT-2722 27-inch flat panel LCD HD-ready TV

The Norcent LT-2722 27-inch flat panel LCD HD-ready TV

The Norcent LT-2722 27 flat panel LCD HD-ready TV has some good points and some not-so-good points. We had the opportunity to take a look at this LCD TV and were left with mixed feelings.

Probably the best feature of this widescreen TV is the price. At an average street price of about $700 this is one of the least expensive 27 LCD TVs on the market. Out of the box the Norcent LT-2722 is fairly easy to set up. Just snap on the boomerang-shaped base, remove the panel on the back to uncover the multitude of connections, plug in your signal source(s), replace the panel, and youre ready to go. The LT-2722 has one RF antenna/cable input, two composite video inputs, two component video inputs, one S-video input, one PC (15-pin D-sub) input, and stereo audio inputs for all sources. It has a built-in 181 channel NTSC tuner with MTS, SAP, closed caption and V-chip. The set weighs only 30 pounds and measures 35.3 (w) x 18.5 (h) x 11.3 (d) with the stand. It can also be wall mounted (with optional mounting bracket).

The LT-2722 features a built-in 5 watt speaker system with a headphone jack and built-in SRS audio enhancement which provided surprisingly good sound. Unfortunately the headphone jack is placed under and behind the edge of the screen where it cant be seen making it very awkward to locate. The 16:9 display is a 23.5 (597.12mm) x 13.3 (335.8mm) TFT-LCD with a native 1280 x 720 resolution. It supports 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i and progressive scan inputs, has a 600:1 contrast ratio, 550 Cd/m˛ peak brightness, and 16ms response time.

Back connectors on the LT-2722 are hidden by a removable panel

Back connectors on the LT-2722 are hidden by a removable panel

The remote control that comes with the unit is also fairly straight-forward as are the on-screen display menus although heres where we started running into a number of slight annoyances. First, the IR sensor isnt very forgiving requiring you to aim the remote directly at the screen and press the buttons firmly. Second, the on-screen display navigation can be a bit confusing with some selections being activated by pressing the select button on the remote while other selections are activated by pressing the left or right arrow buttons. But apart from changing input sources you arent likely to need the on-screen menus very often since there arent that many options.

The remote also features a ?Size button so you can stretch the image to fill the entire screen even with a 4:3 source. With the stretching turned off you get wide black bars on the left and right edges of the image. This feature is a bit of a mixed blessing since with standard, over-the-air broadcasts (or any source other than a computer specifically set to a widescreen resolution or an HDTV widescreen image) it distorts the image horizontally. This happens even if you are watching a letterboxed, widescreen image (you just get a horizontally stretched letterboxed image with black bars at the top and bottom rather than filling the entire screen). If you turn off the stretching on a letterboxed image you get black bars along the sides of the screen and along the top. It would have been nice to be able to toggle through multiple settings so that if you were watching a letterboxed, widescreen movie from a DVD you could fill the entire screen without distortion. I imagine that most people who buy a widescreen TV are going to want to fill the entire screen so they are probably going to set the image to stretched and just leave it that way even if it makes everyone look a bit fatter. It should be noted that this is not a problem specific to this TV as far as I know all widescreen displays (other than some video projectors) face the same problem.

On the font of the set are buttons to manually switch stations, adjust volume, select input source, and on/off. There is also a nice little blue light that turns amber when the set it turned on. (A small, silly complaint I had was that I would prefer to have the blue light indicate on and the amber light indicate off, but thats just because I liked the blue color better.)

When I first turned the set on I was struck by the wonderfully bright and crystal-clear picture with vibrant, nearly perfect colors. While this might be good for a showroom floor its not actually optimal for viewing at home day after day so youll want to back off on the brightness a bit from the factory settings. Once the brightness was adjusted I ran the set through a number of tests with different quality input sources ranging from VHS, to over-the-air, to DVD, to computer, and finally HD signals. While the set maintained that lovely bright image with nearly perfect color on all sources it wasnt perfect.

Even with a 16ms response time (roughly in the middle of the range for LCD displays) there was still a very noticeable smearing of the image during fast action scenes. This was particularly noticeable on sports shows or any scenes with quick pans. There was also a curious moiré patterning on some images, and aliasing on others. The set also seemed to have trouble displaying some smaller sized text and fine patterns with every other pixel just slightly darker than the ones to either side. These problems were noticeably amplified when the image was in the stretched mode. While the image looked better and better as I climbed up to the higher quality input sources the smearing problems were still there.

As I said, the brightness and color quality were excellent on all sources and, as with any LCD display, there was virtually no geometric distortion (unless you have the image stretched on purpose). The audio quality was also surprisingly good something that you cant say about most TV sets. With the SRS enhancement turned on you get an amazingly full sound that will rival many home stereos.

Overall I felt that the Norcent LT-2722 was a reasonably good set at a very good price. If you can live with the smearing and aliasing this would be a good choice for a second TV in a den or bedroom. However, I dont think I would want to make it the centerpiece of a living room or home theater setup. Brightness and color quality were very good but the smearing and aliasing were definitely noticeable. The remote control sensitivity and on-screen menu navigation are slightly annoying as is the position of the headphone jack, but only mildly so.

The stretching issue is a tough one to address since it isnt really Norcents fault. A Norcent product manager that I spoke with said that they are reluctant to do anything that cuts off part of the active image (for example if they had a mode that would stretch both horizontally and vertically cutting off the black bars at the top and bottom of a letterboxed image). He also said that newer models coming out later this year will have faster response times and that should help with the smearing issues.

So on the minus side we have smearing, aliasing, remote control issues, on-screen menus, and headphone jack position. On the plus side we have brightness, color quality, and great sound. Taking these pros and cons together I would rate the Norcent LT-2722 in the middle of the scale a 2.5 out of 5. The price tips the scale a bit so I would rate this set at a 3 out of 5. Its not the best or the worst set on the market but for the price it performs admirably well.

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Guy Wright has been kicking around computers and video for more years than he cares to admit and written too many articles to count. He has been a director, editor, producer, video operator, and announcer for a score of radio and TV stations. His credits include hundreds of insipid local-origination programs and commercials, dozens of cheesy radio spots, and even a book or two. Mainly he writes and edits articles for Digital Media Online.
Related Keywords:Norcent, LT-2722, LCD, HD-ready TV, widescreen TV


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