So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Attractive Design, Huge display screen, Low price.
- Noise on dark images, Severe rainbow effect, Average vertical viewing angle
If you are looking for something that is absolutely huge and will wow people but don't care too much about a few image problems, then the LG 52sZ85R is for you.
Price$ 2,999.00 (AUD)
There is something oh so cool about enormous television sets. For most people a 52 inch TV is a little too big for a normal living room. For those who need the most impressive and ridiculously huge viewing experience available, living on the edge of excess with the LG 52sZ85R might be just the ticket.
This 52" behemoth is about 37cm deep and as such, isn't suitable for fans of thin panel televisions. The length is a sacrifice that has to be made for a high quality image of this size at this low price point. The sophisticated design consists of a thin piano black bezel with small unassuming buttons and a powerful silver speaker across the bottom of the unit. It is rather attractive and would look great in any lounge room. The connection ports at the back of the unit include two component connections a 15 pin D-sub connection and two composite connections together with a HDMI port and tuner. The HDMI port has a design problem though, as it is too close to the bottom of the unit which makes it hard to actually insert a cable without a great deal of effort and force.
Contrary to popular belief, rear projection can actually be the best option with the best image quality. It is a common misconception that all rear projection TVs are average. This assumption came from the early days of rear projection TV. when they were all average quality CRTs, but this doesn't really apply these days. Now that DLP is becoming more widespread, the image quality of DLP televisions has jumped dramatically, although there are still some DLP rear projection TVs that are just as average as ever. The LG 52sZ85R fits comfortably in between both ends of the spectrum as it isn't the best quality image you will ever see, but it certainly isn't as bad as the Sagem Axium HD-D45
After we finished drooling over the size of the TV, it came time to perform our image tests. When viewing this set from a reasonable distance, it looks fairly good and our first impression had us thinking this would be a highly rated product. However, our tests revealed some problems, both minor and major and in the end, the sZ85R didn't fair as well as we'd hoped.
The first problem we noticed was that the set had a shocking vertical viewing angle which means that you need to sit level with the centre of the screen. Sitting any higher or lower than the middle of the screen creates an instant colour shift which only gets worse the wider the angle. The other problem, and one associated with all DLPs, is that this set has quite a harsh rainbow effect compared with other models we have reviewed. For those that are sensitive too rainbow, this television will have you walk away with a migraine.
Apart from those problems, the rest of our issues with the LG were discovered when we took a closer look at the unit via its various input modes. First we tested HDMI since it is the most "advanced" of the inputs. We tested the unit on a Denon DVD player running our Digital Video Essentials test DVD. The grayscale tests revealed noise on edges and the black on white block tests were hampered by magenta fringing along the horizontal axis and cyan fringing on the vertical. We were also disappointed that there was an enormous amount of noise on dark gray and blacks which presented itself when viewing other sources including the Xbox 360 game console. While, for the most part, the unit performed well when drawing moving gradients, the noise problem and some unfortunate stepping occurred in the darker portions of the gradients. The last test we performed was the 1.78 Anamorphic geometry test. This is an excellent test for examining how fierce the rainbow effect on a DLP unit is and running it only confirmed our earlier suspicion that the colour wheel on this TV is a little slow, resulting in a painfully severe rainbow effect.
We also tested the component connection via the same method as HDMI and found all the same problems. Granted, the HDMI looked slightly better and a little more crisp than the component connection but the noise on dark areas of the image was not only still there, but had increased quite a bit. From a distance, this noise isn't as noticeable as up close, but it is noticeable and does detract from the overall experience of using this set.
Composite and S-Video connections, as we expected, were not that great but as we have said many times before, this is not a fault of the TV. The only televisions that display this type of signal well are Cathode Ray Tube sets. However, that being said, we noticed that there weren't as many digital artifacts in this mode as we have seen on other TVs, leading us to believe that the 52sZ85R handles this mode quite well.
The same cannot be said for the connection to a PC via 15pin D-sub. We connected a laptop to the LG and ran DisplayMate Video Edition. The geometry and distortion tests were quite favourable but they did show off the rainbow problems. In the Sharpness and Resolution tests we found noise on images where fine detail pixel draw is required. The Focus Matrix test was full of noise and fringed in green down the right hand side of the screen. On both gray and colour gradient tests we found an odd quirk that could potentially ruin a users viewing experience. A strange diamond lattice flashes for half a second at irregular intervals but regular enough to make you cringe. The colour block tests has very few problems with only the slightest colour fluctuations in low green, low yellow and low cyan. However, once again, when we got to the darker colours, the noise crept back in, just like the other inputs. Not surprisingly, in the Grey bar test scale we found severe noise in the last four bars. This extends to all colours as well.
The speakers on the sZ85R are quite good, producing deep base and reasonable treble without losing much definition in the mid-tones. While they are no substitute for a good home theatre set up, they are more than adequate for most home use and sound quite impressive.
Overall, the LG isn't too bad a television set. It has a wide array of connections and considering its enormous size, it is extremely cheap. It could have been much better and the pixel noise in dark areas, the harsh rainbow effect and the average vertical viewing angle are really its only big problems. If you are looking for something that is absolutely huge and will wow people but don't care too much about these few problems, then the LG 52sZ85R is for you.
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