The Westinghouse SK-32H240S uses two speakers with a maximum of 10 watts each. Within the menu on the TV, both the Treble and Bass (and balance) could be adjusted for a more custom sound. After adjusting the set to my personal preferences, I was quite impressed with the quality that came from the small speakers. The bass at normal listening levels was noticeable through the walls, while the sound directly in front of the set was full, rich and deep.
The only issue (naturally) came while trying to reproduce deep bass at louder volumes, as the speakers obviously could not handle the low frequency. This should not happen during normal listening levels, as I was testing the limits of the speakers. It only happened once or twice, and a quick drop in volume eliminated the problem. I personally don’t believe this will be too much of an issue, as most people incorporate home theater set-ups into their gaming systems and probably don’t play the TV speakers at high volume settings.
In order to get a feel for the television on its own standing, I used multiple methods of video to see how the TV responded during both analog and HD playback. Some of the sources were direct from the wall cable, off-air antenna, HD-DVD, PC Monitor output and compressed video.
I used several different sources to test the HD playback through the Xbox 360. These included the HD Gears of War trailer (featuring ‘Mad World’ by Gary Jules) downloaded from Xbox Live Video Marketplace (XBLVM), a HD trailer for ‘The Simpson’s Movie’ (also from XBLVM), “King Kong” through the Xbox 360 HD-DVD player and utilizing both off-air antenna and plugging in the cable feed straight out of the wall.
The HD Gears of War trailer showed some of the best images that the Westinghouse SK-32H240S produced during testing, but also one of the worst. The Unreal Engine 3 allows for incredible game play, and was used to create this video with in-game quality graphics. The Westinghouse was able to reproduce these images with incredible detail, especially the scene where Fenix is studying the broken head on the ground with his incredibly detailed armor prominently displayed, as well as the transition from dark to light as he bends down to pick it up. However, there was one shot with some nasty screen tear as Marcus Fenix is running down the street. I believed the tear had more to do with the video than the actual TV, but I needed to verify. After downloading the file from the server where Microsoft game assets are located, I played it on my computer LCD monitor at a higher resolution and the tear still existed. So it appears to be an LCD issue (it does not exist on my DLP) more so than a Westinghouse specific issue.
Next, I moved on to a HD trailer for “The Simpson’s Movie.” Right off the bat there was some artifacting around the green band graphic, specifically the area that held the MPAA rating. I tend to think this is attributed to these dinosaurs slapped on the beginning of every movie preview, as the trailer itself didn’t show any artifacting. In fact, the animated series never looked better. As the occupants of Springfield flashed across my screen, I was really appreciating how much better HD is instead of analog.
The last performance test of HD on the Xbox 360 was the HD-DVD player being outputted through an Xbox 360 Elite to watch “King Kong.” If there was ever a movie to test the black levels of a TV, this is it. I was pleasantly surprised as the images themselves were very crisp with the details of the period in which the movie was based on. I did notice the occasional a struggle with vertical panning, especially in a quickly moving scan such as King Kong climbing a building or the camera panning up the cliffs. However, it was brief and most people wouldn’t give it a second thought.
I ran some tests with an off-air antenna and plugging the TV in out of the wall to see how the internal ATSC tuner would do. It seemed to pick up the channels fine in both instances with great image quality. However, there was an issue from the cable feed regarding a horizontal line at the top of full-screen HD images from a local network. After some research and comparisons with the off-air antenna, I determined this was an issue caused by the feed being sent by the cable company, not the TV. Analog TV looked as expected with some decent and some crummy looking channels. Again, this is no different than any other Hi-Def LCD TV on the market from my experiences.
I also hooked up a laptop with the VGA and set the resolution to 1024x768 @60Hz per the supported specs. Unfortunately, the video card in the notebook wasn’t good enough to get the recommended 1366x768 setting. Regardless, the Westinghouse performed extremely well, delivering a bright and clear picture while surfing the net, checking e-mail and general computer use. I was also able to give a demo to a moderate sized group using PowerPoint and some internet sites. A few downloaded clips from GameTrailers and YouTube were tested, and they looked great, as if they were being shown on my widescreen computer monitor.
The big test was when I hooked up my Vista machine to give it a whirl with some Shadowrun and other Games for Windows.
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