NuVision NVU52DCM Lucidium DCM LCD HD Monitor
The brand name may be new to you, but NuVision, headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, didn’t just arrive on the 3:10 from Yuma [ba-da-bing!—Ed.]. One of the new display companies that have sprung up in the transition to HDTV, it has been marketing video products in the U.S. for several years with little fanfare.
NuVision was formed in close cooperation with Mitsui Comtek, a Japanese corporation with a background in digital display technology, semiconductors, wireless networking, and other high-tech fields. And while its name may not yet be widely recognized, NuVision hopes to turn up the volume with its new Lucidium DCM series of flat-panel LCDs.
Well, at least that’s what Webster’s says. But the dictionary is mute on the term Lucidium. NuVision has added to the swarm of colorful, inventive names designed for their marketing buzz. And while Lucidium may be a vaguely Latinesque embellishment of lucid, it does roll more easily off the tongue than the full model name of the set under review here: the NVU52DCM Lucidium DCM.
The 52-inch Lucidium is a high-definition monitor, not an HDTV. That is, it has no built-in broadcast tuners, either high definition or standard. That’s a potential issue with a set that lists for $4,200 but not a fatal one. If you get all your TV from cable or satellite, you’ll never miss the tuners.
NuVision has come up with an alphabet soup of names for some of the set’s various features. NiDO (NuVision Intelligent Digital Optimization) is a proprietary, pixel-based video-processing technology. DSDB (Digital Switching Deep Black) is said to dynamically adjust the backlight according to the program material. (I saw no obvious sign of this in normal operation, and there is no menu selection for DSDB.) And NuControl combines an RS-232 connection with IR control to make the set more user friendly for custom system integrators.
DCS (Deep Color Spectrum) and NuColor xv are said to both expand the color space and extend color bit depth. Similar claims of enhanced color space and/or color depth (generically known as Deep Color and either xvYCC or xvColor) are common today from nearly all manufacturers. Current digital video sources, even HD sources, are 8-bit; Deep Color can extend this up to 16-bit, and the video chain in the NuVision is specified at 10-bit. But keep in mind that no current or proposed consumer sources, apart from a few HD camcorders and some possible future video games, are designed to take advantage of enhanced color space or bit depth.
The Lucidium’s input set is adequate, but with only two HDMI connections, it’s not overly generous. The remote can operate only the TV and no other devices. But apart from that, and several buttons that are labeled but inoperative (clearly intended for NuVision’s tuner-equipped HDTV sets), it’s one of the best I’ve used. The buttons are illuminated, and you can select inputs directly rather than having to go through an input menu.
The Lucidium has a relatively limited assortment of video adjustments and tweaks. There are four picture modes—User (my preference), Bright, Normal, and Soft—selectable through the remote’s Picture button. You can adjust the usual video settings separately for each input (but hue is not available with HDMI).
The aspect-ratio settings for HDMI and component sources are limited to 16:9, Zoom, and 4:3. But there’s an additional setting called Panorama for both the composite and S-video inputs.
There are four color-temperature options—Warm, Normal, Cool, and Vivid. Warm was the most accurate on my sample. But it was improved by calibration (you can calibrate each of the color temperatures separately in the service menu). But the calibration controls are limited to overall adjustments for red, green, and blue. You don’t get separate controls for both the top and bottom of the brightness range.
An Advanced Setting menu offers two types of noise reduction (3D and MPEG). There’s a split screen that allows you to see before-and-after effects of the picture controls, though it wasn’t well explained in the manual and I didn’t find it useful. Two additional controls, ACC (Adaptive Contrast and Color: Low, Medium, High, and Off) and ACM (Active Color Management: Nature, Sport, Theater, Vivid, and Off), had no net positive effect, in my judgment, so I left them both off.
The set offers both day and night viewing options. Night mode produced by far the more comfortable brightness level for evening viewing in a dimly lit room.
Stacking It Up
The Lucidium’s video processing sailed through all of my SD and HD tests without a single stumble. No set I have reviewed has performed better on these tests, including proper 3:2 pulldown with HD.
And while it was no better than average when reproducing standard-definition sources, the Lucidium left no doubt about the quality of its HD resolution over HDMI. On its 52-inch screen, The Rookie (Blu-ray) produced a first-rate high-definition experience. The set’s ability to retrieve clean detail over HDMI at 1080p (either at 24 frames per second or 60 fps) was obvious from the film’s opening shots. From the creases and stubble on actor Dennis Quaid’s game face to the few shots that were just slightly off focus—clearly revealed as less crisp than the rest of the movie—the NuVision didn’t miss a thing.
No LCD can match a good plasma display in the suppression of motion blur and off-axis viewing (two traditional LCD problems). But despite the fact that the NuVision offers no motion-enhancement features, such as 120-hertz operation, it still performs respectably well in both of these performance characteristics.
In other areas, however, the NuVision’s performance was a bit of a letdown. Its color space is wider than the ATSC standard, with green particularly oversaturated. (This is true of most sets, but more so here than usual.) The color-tracking and color-temperature accuracy, even post-calibration, measured well below average.
In real-world viewing, however, these color issues weren’t as obvious as the above paragraph might suggest. In fact, the color could often be eye-popping; it leaped off the screen on the Blu-ray transfer of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. While those greens could look a bit artificial, most viewers are unlikely to notice, particularly since bright greens in most digital sets are just a bit off. And naturally photographed fleshtones, after calibration, easily met the believability index. Still, on a set whose price clearly says high-end, I’d like to see at least the option for a more accurate color space, and high and low color calibration controls for dialing in better color tracking.
The set will not reproduce above white and below black, which makes it more difficult to set the contrast and brightness controls properly. Clipped whites can also reduce resolution in very bright images, such as white clouds or snow. Depending on how such scenes are mastered, they might appear as an undifferentiated mass of white, with no detail. (NuVision has informed us that this may have been a problem with the first generation of the sets and could be corrected in future production—and possibly with a firmware update.)
I’ve addressed the subject of black level, shadow detail, and contrast ratio so much in other LCD reviews that I won’t spend much time with them here. In brief, although the NuVision claims deep blacks, it does not really deliver them. As long as the average brightness of the program material is at mid brightness levels or higher, most viewers will be delighted with the image. But when the scene switches from bright to dark, you’re left wondering what happened to that great picture you were just watching. In fairness, the NuVision shares this shortcoming with most LCD displays. But it offers no breakthroughs here, either. Of the LCD sets I’ve tested since late 2006, the NuVision’s black level, shadow detail, and peak contrast are no better than average.
Other issues? Audio delivered to the set’s (serviceable, but little more) onboard audio system via HDMI was a sometimes thing. It worked on some sources (my Scientific Atlanta cable box) but not on others (the Pioneer Elite BDP-95HD and the Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray players).
And on four occasions, the set froze and refused to respond to either the remote or the on-set controls, including the on/off switch. Each time, I had to unplug the set then power it up again to fix the problem. This was a first for me with an HDTV and for NuVision too. They were unable to replicate this issue when informed of it.
The lack of onboard ATSC and NTSC tuners is unusual in today’s market. But a tunerless monitor shouldn’t be a disadvantage. Rather, it should be the sign of a set that excels in so many other areas that buyers will flock to it regardless.
Unfortunately, the pricey NuVision Lucidium DCM 52-inch monitor has too many quirks, for now, to be that set. Most of the issues appear to be fixable, however, perhaps with a few firmware updates. Improving the set’s black level and shadow detail may be more difficult, but it’s at least competitive there with other LCDs.
The NuVision’s overall subjective image quality, helped no doubt by the set’s superb video processing and (HDMI) resolution, suggests that there’s a compelling performer here just waiting to get out. With some fine-tuning on the production end, it just might.
Superb video processing
Day and Night viewing modes
Mediocre black level and shadow detail
Limited calibration control
Operating quirks, possibly software related