32” of high definition video sounds quite good doesn’t it? We’re once again reviewing yet another Brimax product and this time it’s their 32” HDTV which doesn’t look bad at first glance.
Some of you might be wondering what all this hype about high definition is and whether or not there are any benefits of buying a high definition TV. First off, if you think buying a HDTV will help with terrestrial TV viewing or cable and satellite then you’re wrong. High definition TV needs a high definition video source. For the nature of this review we’ll try to keep brief on HDTV for now as our main concern is the actual product itself.
Refer to figure 1 below for a better understanding of this:
Figure 1 shows the difference between standard PAL and high definition video. You can see in the blown up portions that there is still more image detail retained because there are more lines running down the screen so there is the opportunity for a lot more information.
1920 x 1080 is the standard high definition native resolution for many high definition displays however, some only deliver 720 lines as opposed to 1080 (1280 x 720). There is a very small difference between these modes. Judging by Figure 1 you’re probably thinking 720 isn’t really anywhere near as good as 1080 but you’d be wrong as it gets a little more complicated than that. Some displays only offer 1080i the “i” meaning interlaced. As mentioned earlier we’ll try to keep brief on exactly how this all works as we’d like to get underway with the review of the HDTV itself but think of interlaced video as video made up of horizontal lines which are refreshed a lot slower thus alternating lines remain until the next refresh and the cycle continues resulting in actual lower video resolution as opposed to progressive. It is for this reason many gamers with high definition supporting video games consoles will usually opt for 720p where each line is scanned and refreshed uniformly and consecutively resulting in accurate video with higher resolution and generally higher frames per second.
So hopefully you can now understand why high definition gaming and movies is gaining attention. In this review we’re taking a look at one such high definition TV from Brimax, their 32” A32TC model.
You can see from the first picture that the display itself is not bad looking at all. It’s quite smart and you’ll also notice the small “HDMI” text on the top left corner to indicate this panel supports HMDI connectivity.
- Screen size: 32"
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Resolution: 1366 x 768 pixels
- Brightness: 500 cd/m2
- Viewing angle: H : 178 Degree V : 178 Degree
- Response time: 8 ms
- TV Tuner: Analog PAL/SECAM
- Teletext: 250 pages
- Input / Output connectors: YUV: Component Input x 1, S-Video
:4-pin Input x 1, SCART x 2, VGA D-Sub 15p Input x 1, Audio input for
S-video or video x 1, HDMI Input(with HDCP) x1
- Other Features: Comb Filter: 3D, 3:2 pull down with motion
compensation, Noise Reduction
- Speaker output power: 2 x 8W
The specifications tell us this display will not be able to output 1080i which isn’t too much of a concern if you prefer progressive scan and especially if you’re going to be gaming and watching DVDs.
Along the left side of the TV you will find a wealth of connectivity options from HDMI to standard RF. Note: There is only 1 HDMI port on the back. The main power switch is located on the rear right next to where the power cord connects. There are plenty of ventilation holes running along the top and bottom of this display to keep things cool.
Testing & Performance
The following tests will be conducted on the display to test for its panel’s quality at displaying graphics and motion. We will perform all this by gaming via our XBOX 360 at high definition along with some movies and also benchmarking applications to test for pixel response and readability.
First up is gaming. We connected our XBOX 360 to this display and set the video resolution to 1280 x 720 to ensure correct aspect ratio and also optimum video resolution.
The new Halo 3 beta contains quite a bit of eye candy and on the A32TC it looked absolutely stunning. We didn’t really notice any significant ghosting when panning around in-game, this of course is dependent on the type motion being displayed. The A32TC allows the user to cycle through different picture modes which is accessed by pressing the “P-Mode” button on the handset. There are 4 modes in total and depending on the ambient lighting you’ll want to select a particular mode. The “user” mode allows you to set a user defined brightness, contrast and colour setting which can easily be accessed later. This mode is then followed by “Dynamic”, probably the best one to use when watching movies or gaming. This is also the mode we used when gaming with our console. Colours are very rich and contrast is fairly decent too with shadow detail still visible. The “Standard” mode is suitable for lower light situations where lighting may not be all that great, it also reduces the overall amount of heat output from the display. Finally the “Mild” mode is probably best for users who want to watch TV without straining their eyes in the dark. What we found very interesting was that the A32TC was very easily configurable and not matter what kind of ambient lighting, tungsten or fluorescent the display still managed to accurately present colours.
The display is very sharp. The above image shows just how well the A32TC copes with colours. We would say the as far as highlight and shadow detail is concerned it is “fair” as it’s not the best we’ve seen. If you look at the back of Master Chief’s head you can see the highlights are very slightly burnt out and the shadow detail in his neck area is still pretty decent. Of course the above image is taken with a camera facing the screen so it’s best to judge with your own eyes and as we saw for ourselves we can confirm this.
Using PassMark Monitor Test we ran a few test screens to see how this display coped. The Master Screen presented no problems at all however upon closer inspection we realised there were 2 dead pixels towards the top left corner of the screen which were quite noticeable.
The dead pixels were very easily noticeable when we switched back to our desktop which contained a green background as the wallpaper. Since each pixel is made of red, green and blue it was no surprise to find it more evident on the green background as opposed to the darker test screen.
A closer look reveals the actual green strobe is indeed dead:
The solid colours test screen didn’t really reveal any other problems than the apparent dead pixels however we did notice it wasn’t only 2 but 3 dead pixels this time one towards the bottom right of the screen.
The pure black screen test wasn’t bad but we’ve certainly seen better. Viewing the screen from another angle reveals unpleasant results.
It’s purple, cyan and maybe a bit green all at once. What more could you want? But seriously speaking this isn’t what we expected. And the viewpoint in that picture is (as you can tell) well within it’s max horizontal and vertical viewing angle limits.
The first solid colour test screen revealed shading towards the corners when viewing pure white. You can probably see from the image above that shading is visible towards the corners of the screen (most noticeable towards the right).
The red also showed shading but slightly less than the white screen. Viewing the screen from tighter angles was still pretty decent though.
In the above screenshot I have highlighted where the dead pixels were visible, the pixel to the far right was only noticed when looking at the screen very closely. Apart from the dead pixels the rest of the screen was fine. A different viewing angle proved to be good just as good.
The most perfect looking solid colour screen was the blue with nothing odd at all, a very deep, rich and uniform colour from top to bottom and side to side.
The scale colours test screen is always a challenge for TFT LCD displays and in this case it is no different. We clearly saw visible colour banding which was distinguishable even when viewing the screen from afar.
The same can be said for the green screen. Once again, colour banding was visible but not as much as the previous screen.
The convergence lines test screen showed no noticeable line warping but did show evident colour fringing on vertical and diagonal lines (see picture above). This wasn’t really much of a problem when viewing the screen from a distance but if you plan to use it as a presentation screen it might be a problem.
Moire pattern test screens were passed flawlessly with no problems whatsoever. The screen performed well with tightly packed dots on both moiré screens.
Finally pixel persistence testing. We mentioned earlier that when gaming on the XBOX 360 we didn’t notice much ghosting but this varies from game to game and application to application. In the next test we will be using Pixel Persistence Analyzer which is a very decent app developed by Wilfried Welti. This app will allow us to examine just how well the display copes with motion graphics.
One of the tests is the readability test which basically scrolls text along the screen. You have to be able to clearly read the text and enter the text you see via your keyboard. Each time you get it correct the tempo increases. One correction moves you onto tempo 2, 3 and so on and so forth. Once an incorrect input string is entered it is assumed that the text is no longer readable thus you have reached the maximum readable pixel response from your display. Since the A32TC is an 8ms panel this is an interesting test.
You’ll be interested to know that we managed to get to temp 7 which means it’s pretty damn good especially when compared to a fairly decent Samsung gaming monitor which only managed 6 and that was only just. This means the A32TC is indeed very good for gaming and movies.
Finally we use the “chase” test which draws two boxes scrolling across the screen at high speed from left to right. There are 3 default colour combinations to test with. This test reveals just how much of a ghost trail the display panel leaves behind each box with different colours. The test also allows the user to fine tweak the box colours and background to see if they have any major effect. The A32TC was absolutely fine with all the colour combinations showing only very little ghosting behind each box. The test was conducted at the displays native resolution of 1366 x 768 @ 60fps 60hz.
Well it’s certainly been interesting testing out the A32TC. It certainly does fill the gap for those looking for a larger display and 32” is quite nice though obviously nowadays you can get much larger. This HDTV does have a decent amount connectivity and it’s nice to have a standard RF input too. Weight wise it’s not really that heavy and so it should make transporting the display from one place to another quite easy. Heat is an issue with all screens and the A32TC is no different, if left on “Dynamic” mode the display can generate quite a bit of heat but luckily there are large ventilation holes all along the top and bottom of the screen to overcome this issue. From what we found the A32TC is a pretty decent display for anyone looking for a low cost solution. It certainly isn’t a Sony Bravia or Samsung M series but it is a great value display that offers incredibly sharp images when gaming along with rich colours, contrast and fairly decent highlight/shadow detail. The dead pixels we encountered are quite possibly linked to this particular review sample in particular and this in no way reflects each and every A32TC manufactured to date. We hope the range of Brimax displays continues to expand along with its popularity in Europe and the US.
- Easy to configure and use
- Good connectivity
- Sharp images
- Excellent colour vibrancy
- Decent size
- Lacks fine tweak options in menu
- Viewing angle issues
- Dead pixels (with our sample unit only)