Westinghouse 42″ LVM-42W2 LCD 1080P HDTV Monitor Review
This is the fifth entry in our $600 gadget contest and Erik has done us proud by including both a promotion picture and a review, nice one Erik now over to the review.
For the $1400 price tag, I just could not say “No.” to this great HDTV Monitor. True, it does not have an HDTV tuner included, but as I haven’t used my regular TV antennae in over 8 years, I figured it was a moot point. It worked great right out of the box, and at just under 60 lbs, it was easy to transport from my work (where it was delivered) to my home, and just as easy to place on top of my 4 foot high entertainment center.
It comes with a plethora of inputs (1xVGA, 1x Composite video, 1x S-video, 2x Component video, 2x DVI-HDCP, 2x RCA Phono, and 1x Mini stereo audio 3.5mm) so it was easy to connect my different peripherals. I currently have my HDTV cable box, pc, dvd/vcr and ps2 connected, all with their own dedicated connection, although with the input/output connectors located on the middle back section facing right and left makes it very easy to switch things around. I have mine mounted on the included stand, but the connection setup makes it very easy to wall-mount and still be able to easily reach your connectors.
Once you have it set up, the real fun begins, with 1080p (1920×1080) native resolution for maximum HD enjoyment. It also automatically recognizes the different resolution formats offered by standard definition TV signals(480i), Enhanced definition signals (480p), and 720i and 720p signals, as well as the obvious 1080i and 1080p formats, and formats them to fit the screen for best picture quality. While this does mean that you will have black bars on the sides or top of the screen depending on the format you are displaying, the “fill” button on the included remote control enables you to “stretch” the image to fill the entire screen. You will sometimes lose the outer edges of the picture due to the “stretching” of the picture, but I have found it to be minimal with all of the programming I have encountered so far. I personally don’t mind the black bars, but as the wife hates them, I have used the TV both ways numerous times and find either one enjoyable. The 178 degree viewing range is also a welcome addition, and although the picture is still very visible and colorful at the extreme edges of the viewing angle, some picture dulling can be noticed, but it is certainly better than most other LCDs I have experimented with when it comes to being able to see the picture clearly from wide viewing angles, such as when you have multiple guests over for movie night, just make sure you have enough seating, because everyone will be awed by the 1080p resolution. I have found that when watching SD (standard definition) television programming, I sometimes have a very thin bar at the top of the screen, that looks similar to a barcode. It is only a few pixels tall, and is remedied by filling the screen as mentioned before, but I felt I should mention it to be fair, as some people don’t like to use the fill option which changes the aspect ratio from 4:3 to 16:9, and will usually make everyone look a bit wider. I tend not to notice this problem after about 10 second of watching once I use the fill option, but it seems to annoy my wife to watch anything that has been “stretched”.
There is a drawback to the remote control with this TV, as it seems to have a somewhat small area of use. It can sometimes not respond to commands unless it is pointed directly at the screen, and it will not respond very well to multiple commands inputted very quickly. I am using the remote control provided by my cable provider, and it seems to work more efficiently, although now that I am using my stereo for surround sound (the TV has 2 audio outputs) the only time I need to “talk” to the TV directly is to turn it off and on, or to select a different input.
The audio on this TV is surprisingly robust, with the 3 speakers (1 left and right, 1 center bass) being hidden into the design of the HDTV Monitor housing, which helps keep the footprint of the unit to a minimum. There is a small annoyance with the sound, which is that you can choose (through the menu) to either have the audio coming through the TV, or being sent through the audio output to external speakers, but you cannot have both enabled at the same time. I was able to work around this problem by connecting the secondary “audio out” of my cable box directly to my stereo, while connecting the primary “audio out” (along with the primary video) to the TV. This enable me to use the Westinghouse’s speakers as my center channel, and my stereo for the surround sound portion of the audio.
Hopefully you noticed my mention of a VGA connector on this HDTV Monitor, although you can also use the DVI connector if your video card supports one. I have had no problems displaying my computer desktop, images and video on the screen, but you will want to ensure that any games you play support a widescreen resolution of at least 1280×1024, or higher for best results, although you must realize that playing anything in less than 1920×1080 is not going to look as clear or crisp on the screen. That is, after all, how resolutions work. The higher the resolution you use, the more pixels there are, and the less “blocky” the picture will seem. My one complaint with the input connectors setup is that they are somewhat “bundled” together. So, for instance, if you want to use your DVI connector to connect your PC to the Monitor, you must also use the component (red/white) audio connector associated with it. The audio input 3.5mm connector (mic or headphone type) will only work if you are using the VGA connector for the video. You cannot choose which audio input the TV uses at any given time, as the TV is set up in such a way that when you are connected with a certain video input, the associated audio input connector is used as well. This required me to buy a $6 cable from my local electronics store to be able to run the audio out from the audio 3.5mm jack on my pc to the composite red/white inputs on my monitor.
The picture is fantastic right out of the box, although I’ve found the most useful feature of the menu options to be the “color temperature” option. This allows you to choose from 3 options: Warm, Neutral and Cool. The TV out of the box is set on “Neutral”. If you find that the picture of your current programming is a little too “Red” or “Warm”, you can change this option to Cool, and the TV will automatically adjust the color scheme by skewing the color palette in the blue direction, calming some of the redness out of the picture. This works in both directions and will also make viewing programming that is too “Cool” or “Blue” a bit warmer by skewing the color scheme towards the red end of the spectrum, which can make people in bright lights look a bit more natural in color.
The rest of the menu is pretty standard fare, although another great feature is that your settings for each input selection are remembered by the TV, so if you like your game console picture settings different than your cable box settings, you don’t have to keep switching the settings every time you select a different input. The main complaint I can find with the menu is that the options are all in black text, except the highlighted selection is in blue text, which can sometimes be hard to distinguish if you have the brightness turned down for a dark room. Mentioning brightness brings me to another great feature of this HDTV Monitor, which unlike other LCD TVs, has a great range of brightness selection, and I have no problem with the screen being too dim in bright light (I have several large windows in my living room) or with it displaying black as grey in a very dark room (as long as you turn the brightness down).
If you read many other reviews on this product, specifically ones from 8 months and older, you may see comments about power issues, or “sparklies”. These were reported problems for this model that have been fixed by newer firmware installed on the device. I (and my 2 friends that also bought one) have not had either of these problems, and I have not seen these problems reported in many recent reviews.
All in all, I am very pleased with my Westinghouse 42″ LVM-42W2 HDTV 1080p LCD Monitor, and you (and maybe more importantly your friends and family) will be too! Although I have mentioned some annoyances I have with the device, I really could not have asked for a better solution to my viewing needs, and certainly not at the price point of this HDTV Monitor. I highly recommend getting access to Discovery HD. It doesn’t have the same programming as the SD Discovery channel (darn you mythbusters!) but the video quality is simply amazing! The other night I found myself staring at a program for over 40 minutes called “Migration”. It was nothing but images of birds flying around North America, and the picture was absolutely stunning!
Pros: =42 inches of 1080p HDTV Beauty
=lightweight stylish design
=multiple input options
=VGA connector for pc use
=Easy to use menu system
=Plug and play connections
=Setting memory for each input
Cons: =Remote sensitivity
=audio/video input “bundling”
=no HDTV tuner
=menu selection colors
=can’t use internal & external speakers simultaneously (without workaround)
=small barcode on SDTV signals (pretty rare for me, and why are you watching SDTV?!!)
=No “Zoom” mode for viewing (similar to fill mode, although I’ve never seen a need for it)
=This may be a no-brainer, but you definitely need access to HDTV programming or be a hardcore gamer to buy this unit.
=You will spend a lot more time watching TV!