The Monster TV Face Off Zenith D56W25

Zenith D56W25 Rear-Projection HD Monitor ($3,000)

The D56W25's most noticeable feature (at least at first) is its design. All of the other TVs in this Face Off have very similar, black-box aesthetics. The Zenith has angles everywhere and a screen that seems to have no bezel. Most of our crew, especially Ron, liked it, but it might not be for all tastes. Kudos to Zenith for having the guts to put something slightly different-looking on the market and for making the only TV that comes with handles so that you can move it around.

There's a bare-bones amount of inputs on the back. If you have more than four sources, you might need an external switcher of some kind. The remote is a little ungainly, as it is very long and the buttons are spread out across the faceplate. Unless you have really big hands, you'll be juggling it to get to the buttons you need. Fortunately, it's backlit.

The Zenith did very well in this Face Off. It was part of our Final Four and was Chris and Claire's number-two pick. Such praise as "excellent detail" and "very solid, overall" were heard. Claire and I thought that it was a little green but not too bad. Chris hit on one of the D56W25's failings by saying that the black level seemed unstable. As with the Hitachi set, the Zenith's floating DC level made brighter scenes lose some shadow detail. This crushing of dark parts of the screen did not go unnoticed among our reviewers. There was no SVM, which is nice, as it improves real detail. One of this set's major strong points is its color decoder, which is fairly accurate. A color decoder can make or break a set. In this case, it helped the set become a Face Off finalist. Adding to the quality image was the lack of dot crawl, rare in this bunch of TVs. The internal line doubler worked well and detected 3:2. Claire summed it up best by calling this TV a "serious contender."

With HD material, the praise was even stronger. Comments on the quality of the Zenith's detail changed from "good" to "great" and from "great" to "excellent." The black-level issues remained, though, which seemed to be the only major problem people had with this TV. Still, Adrienne's comment of "solid with every source" rings true, as there were few other sets that held consistent praise between sources.

Calibration didn't do too much for this TV, as it wasn't too far off the mark to begin with. After calibration, it was even closer, but it wasn't the most consistent or accurate among the TVs in this Face Off. Due to the closeness of the gray scale before calibration, those on a very tight budget could get away with not calibrating this set right away and still have a great image. If you're looking for a solid TV that has a great image and goes with your otherwise-avant-garde and postmodern décor, this is the set for you.—GM

D56W25 HD Monitor $3,000
Zenith Electronics
(847) 391-7000
Dealer Locator Code ZEN

HT Labs Measures:Zenith HD Monitor

The top chart shows the gray scale of the Zenith HD monitor as set by the manufacturer, in the most accurate menu setting possible. The set measures a reddish 6,000 Kelvin with dark images and leans bluer (7,000 K) with brighter images. After making adjustments using the Photo Research PR-650, the gray scale measures within 300 K of D6500, the accurate setting, across the entire range. The bottom chart shows that the primary colors of the display's CRTs are excellent, matching those specified by SMPTE. This means that the display will reproduce all of the colors available in the system. The gray scale, shown in the middle of the triangle, goes from red to blue before calibration and is more accurate (the middle red dots) afterward. The light output was approximately 25 foot-lamberts with a white window and is 33 ft-L with a full-white field. This indicates a strong power supply. The display has poor DC restoration: Dark portions of the image get brighter as the image gets brighter. Scan velocity modulation is defeatable in the user menu. Although the color decoder pushes red as set by the factory, a trained technician can correct this from the service mode. The comb filter removes nearly all dot crawl. The TV displays at least 500 horizontal lines (per picture height) with NTSC sources, as measured using the resolution pattern from the Ovation Avia test DVD played on a Sony CDP-650D DVD player.—MW/GM