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BenQ VH4243 (42" LCD)

Reiner

Active Member
After months of looking around, sourcing / figuring out specs and waiting I was finally fed up and went to buy a flat-screen TV, the BenQ VH4243 (sorry, no specs on the English site yet though here is a brief press release). Also available in the same line-up are the 37" and 32" models.
Maybe I should quickly mention that Taiwan is a NTSC country, PAL compatible models are hard to come by and when you find one it may not work at 230V. Now add to that 1:1 pixel mapping and HDTV support at 50 & 60Hz and choices here become very limited.

Though I was seriously considering the Pioneer PDP-507XG (plasma) that fulfils all the requirements I just couldn't live with the thought to pay a premium of around EUR1100 over the price in Europe. Even at 175k (12.5% below the list price) it's too expensive in comparision. Same goes for the PDP-427XG with a list price of 125k (that's what the 50" model should cost). Prices in TWD, in case you wonder.

Anyhow, I chose the BenQ because I wanted a new toy right now and it costs only a quarter of the Pioneer. Patience finally ran out. ;)

The design isn't that great and unfortunately the speaker below the screen is part of the housing and cannot be detached. The good news is that it swivels, making access to the connectors at the back a bit easier.
The picture via VGA, driven at 1360x768 (thus nearly matching the native/physical resolution of 1366x768) looks stunning if you have a good source signal: Some HD clips in 720p that I downloaded (WMV HD Content Showcase or Apple HD Trailers) look as good as it gets. As well a good quality DVDs (i.e. no China "imports") look great. Note that I played the DVDs via my laptop and the VGA out, thus the signal is available in progressive scan (PS). Via component (YUV) in, not using PS, the DVD still looks good; my stand-alone player doesn't do PS, so couldn't test it. Planning to replace it with a Media-PC/HTPC anyway. I tested the PAL compability however, works fine.

Now here is a "secret" that I only learned about when the unit was delivered and installed: the NTSC tuner (CATV) is actually a module, about the size of a cigarette box, that slots into the side of the TV. I assume that this could be easily replaced with a PAL tuner, pending availibility. Due to the location of the module the antenna cable comes out to the side and may "irritate" a bit, but this be solved with an angled connector. Similar goes for the VGA connection and the AV4 input (composite or S-Video), though for those two it makes sense to have them easily accessible on the side. Other connections (AV1 to AV3, HDMI and AC power) are on the back. Actually there is another free slot on the side which is probably intended for DVB (there are some functions which related to "DTV", as BenQ calls it in more general terms, in the menues).

Unfortunately the Cable-TV (CATV) broadcast looks bad, even worst since the signal at my place is really poor - the 29" CRT that I used until now didn't fare much better. As broadcast ist 4:3 the TV allows you to fill the entire screen by means of different options, all of which are a compromise as they either distort the picture or cut-off the top and bottom. This is however not specific to this model or LCD TVs in general, it applies to any TV that has a 16:9 screen format. For best quality (well ...) watch in 4:3 with black bars at the sides.

Now that I mentioned 'black' here is the biggest flaw of this TV: black is not black but rather grey, a problem with many LCD TVs as the backlight has to be on all the time. I guess considering the price one can't really complain but I recommend that you take a good look for yourself before purchasing a LCD TV. Just switch to 4:3 mode and dim the room lights, if possible. Further the unit hang on me at least twice (on the first day only), at which point it doesn't react to the remote control or buttons on the side - disconnecting the mains power seems to be the only solution to recovery. Note that the unit does not have a true power switch, i.e. power-off just puts it in stand-by mode, so you have to unplug the AC cable or use a strip with a switch.

The remote control looks nice though it's plastic and quite long, for no apparent reason. It's however light and works even you are not directly pointing at the TV. Labels are in Chinese but some buttons have symbols on them, so it's not too difficult to use. Buttons on the side of the TV are labelled in English. The OSD (on-screen display) can be switched between English and Chinese, and it's very simple to use. Some functions can be directly accessed via buttons on the remote control.
(I assume that the remote will be different if this unit would sell in the European market and that perhaps other OSD languages will be added then, too.)

I am still playing with the settings, in particular the Black Level extension and some feature called ACE (manual is in Chinese only, so haven't figured it out yet) but in general I am quite satisfied, especially when using the VGA connection and a good quality source.

Conclusion:
Not the best there is but I gave up on finding the "perfect" TV (considering features, picture quality & price) here in Taiwan, and for the price of the Pioneer plasma I can buy the latest model in a year or so and it will still be cheaper. :rolleyes:
 

Reiner

Active Member
Last night I tried the "Black Extension" - it just darkens dark areas. At the highest setting those areas turn into one single color. Pretty useless I would say.
"ACE" does the opposite (Black Extension is disabled when ACE is used), i.e. it boosts the brighter areas. That can help to make some detail visible and it doesn't get overly bright (medium setting is IMO sufficient).

The sound from the TV speaker is pretty good actually, not audiophile grade but better than the CRT that I used previously. It also supports SRS surround which sounds different but not really like surround.

Also forgot to mention that the TV supports 1080p (50/60Hz) via HDMI and VGA. Street price is TWD45000 (EUR1050 / GBP700).
 
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