A Perfect Fit: Three 1080p LCDs Olevia 747i
The 747i earns the distinction of inspiring the widest range of emotions during the review process, beginning with some mild cursing and ending with enthusiastic praise. My initial reaction to this TV was, "Damn, this thing is heavy!" No, wait—that wasn't my reaction. That was the reaction of Geoffrey and John, who had the pleasure of carrying it into the testing studio. (There are some benefits to being a woman in this industry.) With the stand and detachable speakers in place, the 747i weighs 143 pounds, which is heavier than most similarly sized LCDs and even some larger plasmas—something to note if you're looking for a display to hang on the wall. If you plan to mate this TV with an external sound system, I definitely recommend that you remove the speakers to lighten the load and streamline the aesthetic, which is a bit bulky with all of the peripherals in place.
The TV has a nice complement of HD-capable video inputs and the best collection of audio connections, including a subwoofer output, a headphone jack, and both optical and coaxial digital audio outputs for sending audio from the internal ATSC, NTSC, and Clear-QAM tuners to your A/V receiver. Two RF inputs provide access to said tuners. The channel scan is fairly quick, and adding and deleting channels is an easy process. There are several PIP options, including an interesting "channel surfing" mode, but there's no program guide.
The remote control is fully backlit but does not offer dedicated source buttons or a quick way to jump between active inputs. The 747i's onscreen menu will certainly inspire an opinion; in my case, it wasn't a good one. I found the prism-shaped design, in which you must move through layer upon layer of options, extremely frustrating to navigate. The owner's manual does a nice job of breaking down the menus and is a handy tool to have by your side; unfortunately, Olevia only provides the manual in PDF form on a CD. Navigating the menu isn't the only source of frustration, either. Picture adjustments like brightness, contrast, and sharpness don't have a numerical value attached, so it's hard to make before-and-after comparisons or return to a previous setting. This may not matter to the average consumer, but it's no picnic for a reviewer.
The 747i has fewer advanced picture adjustments than the other TVs in the roundup, but all the important ones are here. The five color-temperature options include two user modes (6500 User and 9300 User) that provide direct access to the offset and gain controls for calibrating the display. Rather than picture modes, the TV features seven input modes that slightly alter the image based on the type of signal you feed it (High-Def TV, Standard-Def TV, Progressive DVD, etc.), but the manual does not explain how the modes differ. The TV's adjustable backlight only contains three steps (Dark, Medium, or Bright Room), which would prove meaningful. Noise reduction is available, and the "Idea" menu lets you choose between contrast enhancement, a black-level extender, a white-peak limiter, or none of the above, which is the option I selected. There are six aspect-ratio options, including a true 1:1 mode for viewing 1,920-by-1,080 signals in their native format. You can also fine-tune the horizontal and vertical positioning and further crop the image.
Once I could put ergonomic frustrations behind me and video content in front of me, the review process took a turn for the better. I began my evaluation with 480i DVD content. As you can see in our measurements box, this TV had the most accurate color points and post-calibration color temperature, so colors consistently looked natural. And, even though it had the largest screen, the 747i still looked the most detailed with DVD content. The 747i uses the Silicon Optix Realta HQV 10-bit processing chip. Its deinterlacer picked up the 3:2 sequence in our Gladiator demo scene, creating only a hint of shimmer and artifacts. Its scaling circuitry did a solid job upconverting standard-def DVD and TV content to the panel's 1080p resolution.
Two factors limited the 747i's performance with DVD and SDTV content: noise and black level. The TV did only an average job rendering the transition between black and white in our Video Essentials test pattern, and its picture was consistently the noisiest with lesser-quality signals. Even in the Dark Room setting, the black level is a rather high 0.076 ft-L; in darker scenes from Corpse Bride, Lost, and The Bourne Supremacy, blacks consistently looked gray, so the image had a washed-out quality that lessened the impact of the TV's good detail and color. The TV's viewing angle isn't outstanding, which further affects its performance in a dark room. On the reverse end, the 747i is the brightest TV in the group, capable of a whopping 134.5 ft-L of light output. That makes it a good fit for a well-lit living room or den in which you plan to do a lot of daytime viewing.
The limitations became much less of a concern when I moved up to HDTV and especially high-definition DVD content, where the signal's improved color palette and brightness really brought out the 747i's strengths. CBS's Super Bowl telecast looked rich and wonderfully detailed, although motion blurring was more evident on this set—not a surprise given that it has the largest screen. Even darker HDTV shows like Heroes and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip had good overall saturation in our theater room.
Our HQV HD DVD test disc revealed that the Olevia correctly deinterlaces 1080i and picks up the 3:2 sequence with 1080i content. It also had the best horizontal resolution in this roundup and, unlike the other two TVs, doesn't add edge enhancement on the HDMI input. Instead, it combines real detail and an accurate color palette to produce naturally beautiful high-definition images. The TV accepts both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24; when I fed it the Blu-ray disc for Training Day in 1080p from Pioneer's BDP-HD1 player, my two-word note said it all: "Looks gorgeous."
The Olevia 747i can ably handle any signal you feed it, but it really comes into its own with HD content. It's a good fit for the person who watches a lot of HDTV programming, is ready to invest in a Blu-ray or HD DVD player, and wants an everyday display that will make the most of these sources.
Olevia 747i LCD HDTV:
• Excellent detail
• Best with high-quality HD sources