Olevia 747i LCD 1080p Television Page 2

Syntax –Brillian devotes a page in the owner's manual to the subject of dead pixels. They allow up to 12 bad pixels, and will exchange a unit when a set is delivered with more than that, but they cannot guarantee that the replacement unit will be 100% free of the problem. At least they are up front about this. No manufacturer can guarantee a perfect complement of pixels, though some choose to ignore the issue altogether. (I have almost never experienced a bad pixel in a review sample, and saw none in this one.)

I usually prefer to get the negatives out of the way first in a review, and the Olevia does have a few shortcomings. The first was not surprising. The set's deep blacks simply aren't very deep. Uniformly dim scenes have too much medium gray and too little black. The under deck scenes that open Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World lack punch. If you're a fan of Dark City, or film noir, this may not be the set for you.

Fortunately, such scenes are relatively rare in most movies, though there are more of them in modern films than older ones. Blame today's faster film stocks, which encourage cinematographers to shoot in available light. Whenever such scenes turn up, most LCDs, including the Olevia 747i, look like they are overlaid with a gray fog that lightens the scene and obscures shadow detail. But if the scene has enough bright highlights to give the eye a reference, you don't notice this "gray fog" as much. But it's still there; those highlights simply mask it a bit. And shadow detail remains marginal at best. The Olevia is a little worse in this respect than the two most recent high-end LCD displays I have reviewed, the Sony BRAVIA KDL-46XBR2 and the JVC LT-46FN97, but it's in the same ballpark.

While Olevia specifies a 178-degree viewing angle, both horizontal and vertical, it's a tad optimistic. (According to Olevia, that spec comes from the panel manufacturer, LG Phillips.) While the image is still watchable at a fairly wide angle, the image starts to lighten, the contrast drops, and the colors fade when you're only slightly off-axis. From a comfortable viewing distance, three on a couch centered on the set should have no problem enjoying the picture. But the middle will still be the "money seat."

There are some minor uniformity issues. I saw no discolorations on the screen: The black and white HD DVD transfer of Casablanca looked beautiful, with a subtle but appropriate sepia shift and no odd, irregularly tinted blotches. But I did see some dark, vertical, ghostlike bands on some material at mid brightness levels, both on test patterns and on large areas of solid color, like deep blue sky. They weren't easy to spot on most programming, however, and even when I was looking for them I seldom saw them. And on a full black screen there were small, slightly brighter areas in the bottom corners. Again, I never noticed this with program material.

But for the most part this set produced stunning images. It was no surprise that with its Silicon Optix video processing the Olevia passed all of my usual scaling and deinterlacing tests with flying colors, scoring from very good to excellent on all of them. Every cadence test on my HQV Benchmark test disc was smoothly reproduced—again, not surprising since this test was produced by Silicon Optix to show off the capabilities of its processing solutions.

The Olevia's three optional noise reduction settings were also useful, minimizing noise while doing little damage to picture's resolution. Most of the time I recommend leaving this noise reduction feature Off, but it's effective if you ever need it.

If there's one word I could choose to describe the Olevia's picture, it would be silky. It never lacks for detail, but the image is so smooth that the resolution never seems forced. It has a natural degree of pop and vividness. Less, it's true, than you'll see from a good plasma display, but not everyone finds the vividness of plasma to his or her liking. Yes, you can make the image on the Olevia less natural with a poor setup, but it's to the company's credit that it doesn't give you the traditional picture "modes" offered by other manufacturers, modes with names like Vivid, Gamer, Dynamic, etc. What Olevia does give you is an excellent picture out of the box and the controls needed to make it even better.

High-definition from my cable system on the Olevia ranged from satisfactory to superb. Such a range of quality is not unusual with any program source, but if you see a great looking HD program on the Olevia, you'll know it. I have some of this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on my HD DVR, and it's beautifully reproduced on the Olevia, with gorgeous color, natural flesh tones, and a sharp but natural image. And the set will do justice to a good HD movie transfer, as well. About a Boy is an odd movie, but it has a surprising number of reference quality images. The 747i got it all, including scenes inside a supermarket with its well-stocked rows and stacks of small, brightly colored, crisply detailed merchandise.

The Olevia earns top marks for HD sports, too. LCDs have a reputation for slow response time, which causes motion smear. I watched more than my fair share of football on this set and was never bothered by motion smear. I'm sure it's there, and if viewed side-by-side-by-side with, say, a CRT, it probably wouldn't be hard to spot. But viewed and judged on its own, whatever motion smear the Olivia might have never bothered me.

Even standard definition DVD looks beautiful on this set. Jurassic Park III has always been a great video transfer, the best looking of the Jurassic Park series. It also has many scenes of bright green foliage that can be tough on digital displays. The Olevia did a great job keeping those greens realistic. It also handled the rest of the transfer with ease, edging very close to the look of a high-definition source in depth, detail, and color.

The recently released DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest may not be high-definition either, but that doesn't mean it looks soft. Its bright scenes are given a first-rate treatment on this set. Even most of the dark scenes, and there are plenty of them here, fare reasonably well because they are lit in a way that adds highlights to important details. And while a few of the darkest scenes look too gray, you can always follow what's going on.

Mediocre program material, which includes much of today's standard definition, analog cable offerings, looked okay on the Olevia. The set didn't work miracles with such material, but most of it was at least tolerable. Nevertheless, as you get more accustomed to HDTV and even the best DVDs on this set, you'll definitely find yourself less drawn to TV Land reruns of Green Acres and Gilligan's Island.

I recently reviewed the 46" JVC LT-46FN97 LCD flat panel set, and it was still on hand in the early stages of this review. Compared to the Olevia, the color of the two sets was so close (after calibration) that I wouldn't want to have to choose between them. On bright and medium bright scenes the two sets look similar in contrast. The Olevia was a bit more vivid, three-dimensional, and lush, but it was a very close call. On darker scenes, however, the JVC pulled slightly ahead, with marginally darker blacks and better shadow detail.

The Olevia is not without flaw. It suffers from some of the weaknesses typical of most LCD sets: poor black levels and less than optimum off-axis performance. But it does have excellent color, great detail, an image that is both compelling and easy to watch for hours on end. It's a worthy flagship for a brand that I suspect we'll be hearing a lot more about in the future.

Outstanding color
Fine three-dimensionality with crisp detail
Video processing second to none
Two HD tuners

Mediocre blacks and shadow detail
Image deteriorates noticeably when viewed much off-axis
On-screen menus can be frustrating