Loewe Aconda 38-inch HDTV Monitor Page 3

In the new DVD release of Tombstone (Walt Disney Home Video) - one of my favorite reference laserdiscs back in the day - there was a consistently high degree of shadow detail visible in both dark interior shots and ones lit by bright afternoon sunlight. For example, in a scene where Wyatt Earp and crew have their final deadly faceoff with the cowboy gang, I could detect differences in tone between the black suits worn by Wyatt and his men - and even noticed that one suit contained pinstripes, a detail I'd never seen before.

The Loewe rendered the colors in Tombstone in a vivid yet clean manner. In a scene where a bright red wagon rolls across a dusty street, its wheels and the fabric hanging from its canopy looked positively brilliant. But the Medium color-temperature preset was far enough off from the standard that flesh tones were exaggerated. For example, when a doctor warns the bedridden Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) to mend his drinking, gambling, and night-owl ways, the first shot is a closeup of his girlfriend's anxious face. Her skin looked slightly flushed on the Loewe screen, with a distinct red-orange cast. When the camera finally settled on Doc, the sickly sharpshooter's mug had a similar hue.

After I made grayscale adjustments in the set's service menu (see "in the lab"), flesh tones looked more natural. When I watched this scene again, the woman's pale, almost chalky complexion came through, while Doc's corpse-like pallor served to dramatically offset his bruised lips and red-rimmed eyes. My visit to the service menu also allowed me to shut off the set's scan-velocity modulation (SVM) circuit, although the effects of SVM were very mild beforehand and could only be seen in shots where a figure was superimposed against a clear blue sky.

The Aconda's built-in line doubler features a Film mode to convert 480i images to progressive scan with 2:3 pulldown. There are two settings, Normal and Super. I didn't see much of a difference between them when watching movies - both provided sharp, stable, and solid-looking images. Like a few other TVs with built-in line doublers I've tested, however, its performance was slow and uneven compared with my reference progressive-scan DVD player. For example, in the opening of Chapter 8 in Dragonheart, where the camera does a crane move along a fortress, some stairstep artifacts were briefly visible but just as quickly disappeared.