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Dabs Widescreen 30" £1099 LCD Review

Discussion in 'LCD & LED LCD TVs' started by spanky2k, Jul 22, 2004.

  1. spanky2k

    spanky2k
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    I promised earlier that I would post a full review of my brand new 30 inch LCD screen...

    ... and here it is!! :)

    I tried writing it like a magazine article, thought it would make better reading that way, I hope you don't mind!! :)

    ==================================================

    From unknown to unmissable

    Online shop Dabs steps boldly into the flat screen TV world but can it pack a punch?


    Electronics reseller Dabs has remained unknown to most people trotting around this rainy country although has had quite a following amongst the computer enthusiasts and IT firms. Offering every component a computer could need and low prices made it such an unknown favourite. A couple of years ago Dabs introduced their own budget line of hardware, covering everything from memory cards through to computer graphics accelerators, all at low, low prices. Their entrance into the LCD TV market went unbeknown to even most enthusiasts out there and the lack of information, photos and of course in-store models didn’t help.
    Following their use in the past of German electronics manufacturer Medion for their PC computer screens, it was logical progression that led them to using Medion LCD TVs in their Dabs Value line.
    The MD41630 is their top of the line 30 inch model coming in at an astonishingly low price of £1099. One would think that for such a big screen with such a low price tag there must be some major faults. Philips’ 30 inch model retails at £1999. Does half the cost mean half the quality?

    Pick a plug, any plug…
    Dabs certainly haven’t skimped on connections, offering two Scarts (one of which is RGB), S-video, YUV Component and DVI-I. Not to mention phono inputs for every single video input, including both Scarts!
    The design of the unit is fairly basic and rectangular although this results in a surprisingly clean and stylish look. The only curve in the entire unit is a small black plastic bulge on the bottom of the MD41630 that houses the standby LED (which glows blue when the unit is on) and remote control receiver, surrounded by somewhat small control buttons that are impossible to see and are unlabelled. Having said this though, nearly all the control of this screen will be made with the rather clunky and plastic looking remote which may lack the looks of the stylish aluminium remotes of the more expensive screens but makes up for this by being very easy to use with large durable buttons and a simple clear layout. The only minor quibble is the strange position of the power button, which is located at the bottom of the remote. It should be noted that although the remote is slightly plastic looking, the display itself is nearly all metal, the only piece of plastic being the black ‘control blob’.
    The MD41630 offers a contrast ratio of 500:1 and it certainly is impressive, especially for a screen at this price. Blacks, being the most common downfall of LCD displays, are incredibly well represented. It may not be quite up to the deep blacks that some Plasma counterparts offer but for an LCD around the £1000 mark, they are very good. Rich, vivid colours are also produced, showing good contrast and brightness. Dabs’ baby offers a large amount of calibration options, contrast, brightness, sharpness, colour and DNC, its own brand of image processing technology, designed to remove the effects of artifacting in low quality input feeds. Although nothing compared to the incredible Pixel Plus 2 in Philips’ top models, it does the job well enough. The colour temperature can also be set to various presets as well as a user configuration, where each RGB channel can be custom set.
    User configuration modes are also available elsewhere, such as the custom zoom option amongst the aspect ratio settings, helpful when wanting to get a perfect sized zoom of a 4:3 input so as to utilise the widescreen fully. Whilst on the point of widescreen, it should be mentioned that the natural aspect ratio is in fact 15:9, not 16:9. This seems to be a common trend amongst LCD TV producers, most likely due to the common use of 1280x768 resolutions which are 15:9 when using square pixels.
    Sound is good but nothing special, a good standard reproduction of tones at lower volumes whilst losing bass as the volume is turned up. An external amp would be advisable.
    PC Connectivity is where the display really shows its colours, Medion obviously know what they’re doing, having originated in the PC screens market. A wide range of resolutions are available, up to WXGA, the native 1280x768. Images are super-crisp and responsive, appearing to literally jump out of the display. Microsoft WMVHD high definition content looks absolutely incredible, fully flexing the three coloured muscles within.
    Although no HD standard is officially supported, HD decoders of the future will more than likely support either VGA or DVI-I connections, both of which are supported through the latter’s socket.

    Conclusion
    Although the unit lacks the supremely trendy looks of some of the more expensive 32 inch models from the more well known manufacturers such as Philips, Sony and JVC, it does not by any means look bad. It may look simple and uninteresting but it could look less ‘out-of-fashion’ than its more current style-guru displays purely due to the fact that it hardly has any style to start with, so what’s it going to lose in 5 years!
    The truth about this display is that it offers astonishing value, producing excellent images from a plethora of available connections. You can’t really go wrong with a 30 inch display for £1099 let alone a 30 inch display with quality like this. My view would be that if you were looking for a thirty inch LCD in the first place and thus are prepared to spend the thousands extra then by all means go for the mainstream displays. If however you were looking at 23 or 26 inch displays, take a gander at this monster. Its in the same price range as many of the competition’s smaller screens yet packs a punch equivalent to that of the unknown geeky Physics student who just won the Nobel prize.

    Features:
    15:9 75cm (30in) LCD, WXGA, progressive scan, 16ms response time, 500:1 contrast, 170 degrees viewable, progressive, 2 x 5 W sinusoidal broadband speakers, PAL/SECAM/NTSC compatible, 2 x SCART (1 x RGB), S-Video, YUV Component, RF, DVI-I, 3 x Stereo Input, 1 x Stereo Output, Sub out, Dimensions 529 x 809 x 180 mm, weight 15.4 kg, power consumption 160 W typical, < 3 W in standby mode.

    Ratings:
    Highs: Good picture quality, plenty of features and connections, fantastic PC monitor function, amazing value-for-money
    Lows: Slightly boring design, cheap looking remote with an awkward power button

    Picture: ****1/2
    Sound: **1/2
    Features: *****
    Value: *****
    OVERALL: ****1/2

    ==================================================

    Photos:

    Click on the images to enlarge:

    The box:
    [​IMG]

    The rear connectinos:
    [​IMG]

    Daytime viewing from a Sky source (Sky source is from a Panasonic Digibox connected via a 30m phono cable connected via a phono/Scart converter):
    [​IMG]

    More daytime Sky viewing (I think its from the same O2 advert, hence the blue):
    [​IMG]

    The top edge of the display:
    [​IMG]

    The top edge of the display while a black image is shown
    [​IMG]

    Connected to a PC running the Futuremark 3DMark03 demo. Taken at night:
    [​IMG]

    A close up of the same image (the image was frozen on display using the handy 'freeze' button on the remote). Again, taken at night:
    [​IMG]

    The remote control. Also taken at night:
    [​IMG]

    ==========================================================

    I hope this helps anyone who's considering this display!! If anyone's got any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!! :)

    Kind Regards,

    Phil
     
  2. idhutt

    idhutt
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    Thanks for the review. One omission, or maybe I missed it, you don't mention whether the DVI socket is HDCP compliant so that it can be connected to DVD players with DVI/HDMI rather than just used as a PC display.

    -Ian
     
  3. DaveCheltenham

    DaveCheltenham
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    spanky2k - Thanks for the review; very detailed and informative. Thought it was worth adding the spec from

    http://www.curio.dk/pdf/lcd.pdf

    A 2 year on-site warranty is offered from this supplier.

    Features:
    • All in one LCD-TV
    • Excellent image quality without any disturbing noises
    • Ideal for connecting home entertainment and multimedia devices
    • Screen diagonal 75cm
    • Angle of vision: 170º (typ)
    • Contrast ratio: 500:1 (typ)
    • Brightness: 450cd/m2 (typ)
    • Physical resolution 1280 x 768
    • PIP function
    • TV tuner:VHF/UHF/Hyperband
    • TOP-FLOF teletext with 2100 pages memory
    • Automatic station finding
    • 99 program storage locations
    • Full-screen display in 16:9 as well as in the 4:3 mode
    • Zoom:40-140%
    • Built-in speakers 2x5 watt RMS
    • OSD (On Screen Display)
    • Systems: PAL/SECAM/NTSC/FBAS/RGB/S-Video
    • Multi-function IR remote control (batteries included)
    • Mains operation 200-240V ~ 50Hz
    • Standby < 3 watt
    • TÜV/GS approved

    Dimensions:
    • Dimensions without desktop stand (H x W x D): 475 x 809 x 100mm
    • Dimensions with desktop stand (H x W x D): 529 x 809 x 180mm
    • Weight : 15,5kg incl. desktop stand Sockets:
    • 75 W ohm Antenna socket
    • D-Sub 9pol for Software update Video:
    • Scart1 in (RGB/FBAS/Audio) out (FBAS/Audio)
    • Scart2 in (S-Video/FBAS/Audio) out (FBAS/Audio)
    • DVI-I in
    • Composite Video in (RCA)
    • S-Video in (mini-DIN)
    • YUV (RCA)
    • 1 Audio line out, L/R stereo (RCA)
    • DVI-I / VGA PC input Audio:
    • Audio L/R out (RCA)
    • Audio L/R in (RCA) for FBAS/YUV in
    • Audio L/R in (RCA) for S-Video in
    • Audio L/R in (RCA) for PC in
    • Subwoofer out (RCA)

    PC:
    • PC in (DVI-I/PC-RGB)
    • PC Audio in (RCA)

    Accessories:
    • Power cord
    • Antenna cable
    • Scart cable
    • 15-pin D-Sub cable
     
  4. spanky2k

    spanky2k
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    Hi, I don't know if the DVI-I is HDCP compliant or not. I'm afraid I don't have an HDCP source to find out. :(
     
  5. londonmatt

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    Thanks for the very useful review, big help. Almost definately getting one of those bad boys. Would it be possible for you to find out the measurements of the set inculding the stand, i.e. the depth, width and hieght. Would be a big help.

    Many Thanks

    Matt
     
  6. spanky2k

    spanky2k
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    Sure!

    Height is 53 cm, width is 81 cm and depth is 18 cm.

    Hope that helps!! :)


    Phil
     
  7. hopdylan

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    Have you tried this with a good dvd source?
     
  8. Geomath

    Geomath
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    Ta Spanky - interesting! You're not on commission are you?
    I've just bought a Tiny computer w 5.1 & digital TV cards and no screen.
    What do you think about using this as a PC monitor with a viewing distance of 3-4m?
    Could an average bod read web pages at this distance? Should I go 32"+?
    Good review - perhaps you should forward it to the PC & AV mags.......
    Cheers
     
  9. spanky2k

    spanky2k
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    FAO Hopdylan

    I've tried a few DVDs on it. Up close you do notice some JPEG artifacting although this can be reduced by using the DNC image processing. From a normal viewing distance, i.e. 2m+, this isn't noticeable. DVD colours are great though.

    FAO Geomath

    Lol, no I'm not on commission!!! Although Dabs, if your reading this... ;-) (In my dreams!!). Its great as a PC screen although at a 3-4m distance your pushing it unless you've got good eyesight. This isn't due to the screen but due to the physical size of the pixels and the limits of human eyesight!! I'd say you can read it clearly at up to a distance of 2m. You can just about make out what's going on at about 3.5m, that's the normal viewing distance I have when lying in bed although it is a tad straining. At the end of my bed, 2m away, its fine. Although I find that when using a computer screen I don't like being pysically more than a meter away no matter what the size. I don't know why, probably because I'm used to it. I plan to wall mount it in September at my Uni house but quite low, with a desk beneath it so that I can have a massive screen when using it connected to a computer.

    Hope that helps!! :)
     
  10. idhutt

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    I guess as its not mentioned, its probably not HDCP compliant and thus won't be usable with copy protected (ie most) DVD's played on DVI/HDMI DVD sources.
     
  11. spanky2k

    spanky2k
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    Is there really that much difference between YUV Component and DVI/HDMI when using a DVD as a source? They're limited on their resolution anyway, file standard wise??
     
  12. Geomath

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    Don't go blind in your digs!
    Re pixels: the size and number don't seem dependent on screen size or manufacturer (eg LG use WXGA on their 26 & 30" so the pixels must increase in size)
    I haven't found more than the 1280(nominal)x768 on any screen so I assume that as screen size increases so does the image but with a loss in resolution.
    On my 15" XGA laptop reading 10 font at 2ft should be the same as 50 font at 10ft. A 30" screen is 1.65 times as high and with the same res so 10 font becomes an apparent 17 ie if I can comfortably read 10 at my desk I should be able to read 30 on the TV at 10ft or bump the TV res down to 640x480 (or wide equivalent) which would do the same thing.
    I'm getting pretty twitchy about parting with £1k+ when you can't just roll up to Currys with a laptop and plug it in - or perhaps you can...
    Any final thoughts before I OD (overdraft and overdose!)?
     
  13. spanky2k

    spanky2k
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    Geomath, thats kind of what I mean, the pixels are simply bigger.

    Its a great screen and if your not happy with it you should be able to get Dabs to take it back. If they don't then kick and scream at them and they should give in. If they don't, threaten lawyers and distance selling rules etc. Make sure you know the facts about the laws before you commit if your worried.

    Its fantastic value at such a price. Obviously it can't quite keep up with the £2500 30 inch screens out there, but it doesn't lag that far behind and is *much* better value than the more popular alternates.

    Hope I've helped!! :)


    Phil
     
  14. clayts450

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    Just out of curiosity, is it made in China or Taiwan by any chance ?

    I suspect this very strongly to be made by Sampo (Medion don't make their own consumer AV electronics, they rebadge them from others). Medion recently released a whole load of DVD recorders made by Sampo in parts of Europe and the US and the packaging style is identical to this LCD TV.

    Sampo have been making 30 inch LCD TVs for a while, and they've been flying out of store sin US under different badges (eg Viewsonic).

    As I say, just a curiosity thing :)
     
  15. Geomath

    Geomath
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    Phil - if I can live with a 30" then I'll orderthe Dabs tomorrow PM!
    Life's too short and so is my patience!
    At least we have a Dabs director online: psharrock in thread http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=137488
    at 09-07-2004, 08:10 AM. They clearly haven't got to him yet.....
    Good viewing
     
  16. TV Headache

    TV Headache
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    Spanky - Have you tried the DVI input yet? Do you get noticabley better quality than from the VGA input?
     
  17. bad robot

    bad robot
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    Hi,
    Im very interested in this display, with it acting as a good gaming display both for PC and consoles and of course for general multimedia content.

    Please can you rate its games performance against a decent 16Ms TFT and CONFIRM its 16MS not 25MS. Can you explain more on the PIP functions/ are theyjust a small square or can it also offer PAP 50:50.

    One last question, have you tried any consoles and in particular perhaps an Xbox @ 720p resolution?

    Great review BTW.
    More pics would be nice too...
     
  18. spergabite

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    Nice review, I cant help noticing that the picture on the box doesn't have a Medion badge and without sounding too snobbish I think it looks nicer with a 'clear' bezel. Spanky2k, do you think it would be possible to peel the badge off without causing damage or leaving holes underneath?
     
  19. spanky2k

    spanky2k
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    Hi guys, sorry its taken me so long to reply, I've been away in London for the past few days!!


    First off, Geomath, cool, go for it!! I hope you like it as much as I do!!


    Secondly, TV Headache, the VGI input is done by using a DVI to VGA converter cable supplied with the television, there is only one DVI connection on the back and no VGA connection. I haven't tried it yet with a DVI link to my computer but by using the VGA cable it absolutely rocks!! Seriously, its the best thing about this screen imo, excellent images and smoothness!

    Maybe I'll buy a DVI cable later and try that out... seems a bit pointless to buy a £20 cable, when I don't really need it but hey you generally end up using it *somewhere* anyway!!


    Right, now for Mr Latte, I haven't tried any specific games on it but I did run Futuremark's 3DMark03 demo on it and it looked fantastic. Bear in mind though that I haven't used a CRT for gaming for nearly a year now and for that time have been using my laptop with its 1920x1200 display, so I may be a little biased as I am mainly comparing it to that. I didn't notice any particular lag though. It definately says on the box that response time is '16ms (from grey to grey)'.

    I haven't tried out any consoles on it. I guess I could get my gamecube from the other room and give that a try if you'd like. Might have to wait until this evening though as its a beautiful sunny day and I feel like lying on the beach!!!


    And now finally for spergabite!! I know what you mean about the Medion badge. It is fairly inobtrusive although I am still in two minds whether to take it off or leave it on. I remember reading on a German forum that it can easily be removed leaving no marks but I'll have to dig that out again and double-check. I'm a bit concerned about taking it off now and might just wait until the warranty runs out.


    Hope this helps you guys!!


    Phil
     
  20. .Griff.

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    Re wall mounting I found this on Medion's USA site:

    "Wall mounting the Medion 30" LCD TV

    Tasks

    Medion does not recommend mounting the 30” LCD TV to a wall. End users who decide to mount the TV to a wall do so at their own risk.

    This Article applies to the following

    # MD2780 - TFT - 30 inch TV"

    Obviously they are covering themselves and it's up to the individual to decide how to preoceed. I also found a set of instructions that may be useful for any prospective purchaser:

    Manual
     
  21. .Griff.

    .Griff.
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    Quick question for spanky2k.. What resolution were you running 3dmark03 in? Was it the default test resolution (1024*768) or did you increase it to 1280*768?
     
  22. spanky2k

    spanky2k
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    I increased the res to 1280x768... needed to register it as Pro first. I wasn't running the benchmark, I was running the graphics demo too, which is much smoother.
     
  23. bad robot

    bad robot
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    Ok thanks for the reply.

    I have went ahead and ordered it from the same supplier going with your review and opnions, although Im still thinking its a gamble as seems too good to be true at this price. Also I have not found any other major branded LCD with the connectivity this offers appealing as both a good PC display as much as it is a convential Tv.

    Glad you confirm this is a proper 16ms panel and Im guessing its perhaps produced by LG/Phillips because the specs seem very simular to some of the Phillips models. What resolutions appear in Windows or is it always stuck @ native resolution?

    Please can you give more details on the PIP fuctions if only as a small window or available as 50:50 with two inputs or 50:50 Input/Text. Finally can you post more photos and show the whole screen, perhaps from an approx 1-1.5 metre distance as this is the distance I may be sitting from it for general PC usage.

    With regards to your Gamecube I recommend you purchase:
    1) American software
    2) Region swap disc
    A friend recently showed me his games and F Zero in particular in 480p was astonshing on his 36" CRT toshiba via the component and is a BIG difference to the UKs composite only.


    Once again thanks
     
  24. onewingedangel

    onewingedangel
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    Does the component input accept PAL/NTSC progressive inputs?
     
  25. spanky2k

    spanky2k
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    FAO Mr. Latte:

    Through the VGA cable I had a plethora of resolutions to choose from because of using powerstrip with my previous screen, desperately trying to get the right resolution!

    Through the DVI cable (that I bought yesterday) the default resolutions are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x768 and 1280x1024 although I am sure it can handle a wide variety of resolutions, it seems to be fairly adaptive.

    The image quality looks *even better* through DVI than VGA, its that tiny bit sharper.

    I haven't tried my cube on it yet. I hardly use it anymore so its a little covered in dust!!

    I've taken some more photos and will upload them in a few minutes...


    FAO Onewingedangel:

    It definately supports PAL progressive input but I'm not sure if it does NTSC too. I don't see why not though, especially as its a screen designed for many different countries and seems to be very adaptive.


    More photos soon...
     
  26. spanky2k

    spanky2k
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    Here you go, a few more photos...


    A shot of the screen, close up, in pc mode connected with the VGA cable:
    [​IMG]

    A shot of the screen, close up, in pc mode connected with the DVI cable:
    [​IMG]

    Shot from about 2m:
    [​IMG]

    Shot from about 1.5m:
    [​IMG]

    Bear in mind that my camera can get funny with colour when its trying to be clever, hence why the first two images look a bit odd.

    It doesn't actually look like there's a difference in VGA and DVI but I swear DVI looks better. Its probably just in my head - maybe partly because I spent twenty odd quid on the cable!! :S


    Hope this helps!

    Phil
     
  27. bad robot

    bad robot
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    Thanks spanky.

    Your doing a good job mate, appreciate the help. DVI is better I agree though on some older monitors it didnt offer much advantages and even on some of the earlier Nvida cards. Your new pics do seem sharp though.

    Great to hear about the resolutions thats helpfull to know what it seems to support. I could be sitting as close as 1 metre would this be just insane, are pixels easily noticed this close as in a general pc desk seating postion?

    Off topic a little but can someone help with this:

    I have a Yamaha 750 Se amplifier that upgrades inputs from composite and S video to component. What Im hoping is that I can then take one component output from the 750 amplifier to the MEDION and have all my console satellite etc running through this component connection.

    Im guessing the Yamaha outputs in 540p (PAL Progressive) and correct me if Im wrong but is this 50Hz. My questioning is I tried a component - vga adapter on my Samsung 193p TFT from the yamaha output and also a PS2 and it wont accept a signal as im guessing its 50Hz but it does work grand with my modded Xbox in 480p as its 60 Hz that the monitor accepts.

    You mention Powerstrip Ill have to look into that is it like D Scaler? and what do I need to get the best from Dvds and WMV HD on this display

    Once again appreciate your feedback guys
     
  28. spanky2k

    spanky2k
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    I don't know about your Yamaha, try posting a question in another part of the forum. Powerstrip's a display tool. One feature is you can add custom resolutions, its commonly used when people use vga->hd component converters to connect to plasmas and RPTVs and then want to run it at the natural resolution.

    From about 1m away you will be able to see the pixels but this isn't such a bad thing. When I've been using it as a pc I've simply loved standing 1m in front of it with my wireless keyboard and mouse. Just need to build myself a nice new top spec computer and Halflife 2 and I'll be in heaven!!! Maybe a stool would help too in its current position though!!

    Actually, tbh, having an lcd screen that supported native widescreen when connected to a pc was one of my top requirements. One of the main reasons for this was because of Half-life 2. Their trailer vids have been in native widescreen mode. :D 30 inches of gaming heaven, how cool is that?!!!!
     
  29. spanky2k

    spanky2k
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    Oh, I forgot to mention about DVDs and WMV HD. DVDs would do best through a progressive input DVD player. WMVHD videos, simply play them full screen in Media Player on your PC! Try to get 720p vids as they fit the native resolution.
     
  30. bad robot

    bad robot
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    Yeah I mainly want it to be a awsome PC display first and foremost. I think our interests are simular. The connectivity is fantastic for being the hub of a PC and General entertainment display, it offers just about everything which so many LCDs fail to do even at much higher price tags.

    I forgot to re-ask you about the picture and picture functions.
    Sorry about all the questions but really is it just the usual corner display or can you have different PIP sizes or run 50/50 with two individual inputs.

    Do you use msn or can I contact you via email?
     

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