NuVision 52LEDLP DLP HDTV
For the past year or two, the new high-definition disc formats have been dominating the headlines, but, believe it or not, there have been other developments in the realm of video—or at least in the way video is displayed. One of the newest is the use of LEDs as a light source instead of UHP (ultrahigh-pressure) lamps. Essentially, three tiny LEDs (one red, one green, and one blue) emit the light. Since there's one LED for each of the three primary colors, this eliminates the need for a color wheel. Video editor Geoffrey Morrison covered this technology in depth in his July 2006 GearWorks column (also available online). The benefit is that LEDs are far sturdier than a UHP lamp and should easily last until your next display upgrade, saving you money on replacement lamps. While the theory is that LEDs can run cooler than UHP lamps, at the moment, they can often be rather hot, which can lead to excessive fan noise coming from the back of the television. According to NuVision, the LEDs in the 52LEDLP run cool enough that you could touch them without hurting your hand.
Aesthetically, the set looks very attractive. The case is black with a glossy bezel, much like many of the displays that are currently on the market. The remote is also black with black buttons (save for the blue Power button), and it feels comfortable in your hand. The buttons are laid out where you'd expect them to be and are easily accessible with minimal hand movement. Above the directional buttons, there is an input-select button for each input—something I think should be mandatory for TV remotes. Below the directional buttons are image-size-selection buttons for four of the modes. A 1:1 option is not included on the remote, but you can easily access it through the menu, and it's great for connecting a computer. Unfortunately, the remote has no backlight, and, since it's black on black, it's difficult to see in a dark room.
The menus are intelligently set up and easy to navigate. There are even Red Color, Green Color, and Blue Color sliders to adjust each color individually, so you can tweak your color temperature as you see fit. The slider numbers are displayed in an orange color that can be difficult to see.
Let There Be Light
The LEDs might be small, but they emit a substantial amount of light. While the 125 foot-lamberts of light that the display puts out from a full-white field isn't the highest we've seen recently, it's certainly enough to make daytime viewing no problem. It also contributes to a respectable contrast ratio of 1,471:1, even though it has a high black level.
With the full-white field, it becomes evident that the screen has some issues with color and brightness uniformity. The top and bottom edges are a little cooler than the middle, and it's more noticeable if you sit off axis. This is most likely due to the screen's high gain, which creates a noticeable hot spot at the center. If you move your head up or down while you're watching, the hot spot will move with you. Away from this hot spot, the brightness drops, and the color temperature goes up.
The display did very well with the Silicon Optix HQV test disc. While it ranked in the yellow section of the rotating-bar test for jaggies, it's still much better than other televisions in this regard. The waving-flag scene also had minimal jaggies, and I saw some good detail in the bricks in the background, although with a little bit of noise. The display picked up 3:2 pulldown very quickly in the test, so I put in Gladiator to check it with some actual movie content.
Before I made it to the roofs around the Colosseum (confirming the quick 3:2 recognition), something in the previous scene distracted me. While Joaquin Phoenix looks at a scale model of the Colosseum, there was a distracting discoloration in the shadows behind him. So, I put in the Digital Essentials ramp to get a clearer look at what was happening.
There was significant noise and coloration in the gradations from light to dark. Instead of a smooth ramp, there were discrete steps. Each portion of the banding seemed to have a slightly different color. This might be because of how the display's color temperature tracks. While 45 IRE and above tracks beautifully, there's significant variation below 45 IRE, which is around the area where the banding was most evident. The banding was apparent over both component and HDMI. With any scene that has gradations, you'll see the gray fluctuate to purple and back again, depending on the brightness. You'll also see steps instead of a smooth transition. This issue improved somewhat when I turned off the Noise Reduction and Deep Black in the user menu, but it was still substantial, especially in a movie like Corpse Bride that relies heavily on shadows.
That's not to say there are always problems with the images. HD content looks very detailed. Both the detail and the color in the HD DVD of The Phantom of the Opera were beautiful. The colors had good pop without seeming cartoonish. The 16 Blocks HD DVD had only a little noise and was highly detailed.
Around this time, the remote became unresponsive, as did the control buttons on the side of the display. After I unplugged the set and plugged it back in, the problems cleared up.
And Now, Back to the Show
The HD HQV Benchmark disc showed that the 52LEDLP deinterlaces 1080i correctly. It does not correctly pick up the 3:2 sequence with 1080i, but that's true of most displays currently on the market. It can resolve the vertical aspect of the one-pixel-on/one-pixel-off pattern (the horizontal black and white lines) but not the horizontal (vertical lines). This is similar to what we saw with half of the rear-projection sets from the Face Off in our February issue.
What the 52LEDLP does well, it does very well. The color temperature tracks well, at least above 45 IRE. This display has sharp detail (especially over HDMI), it picks up the 3:2 sequence very quickly (at least with 480i), and its color points are fairly accurate. Regrettably, none of this can make up for the gray-scale banding problems. The set looked better after calibration, but the problems were still apparent. To make sure it wasn't a problem with this specific set, we had a second sample sent to our lab. Unfortunately, it exhibited the same problems. Add to that the fact that there are similarly priced sets available at the same resolution that give you another foot of screen size. Hopefully, this TV's next generation will keep what this display does well and improve on what it doesn't.
• Great detail, especially with high-definition content
• Banding colorization is extremely distracting