Wednesday, November 23, 2005

DVI and the Syntax 26" LT26HVX HDTV

I am not quite sure why HDTV manufacturers put DVI inputs in their sets if they insist on doing it in the most useless way possible, and with no particular advantage over the picture from high quality component inputs. A case in point is my Syntax LT26HVX. And I'm not saying that Syntax is any worse in this regard then any other manufacturer, a search of the AVS Forum will convince anyone that DVI is not used optimally on HDTVs, be they from Sharp, LQ, Syntax or whomever.

You would think companies would realize that there is a market out there for people who want to connect a MacMini up to their huge TV, do a little light web browsing from the couch, watch a DVD, watch their photo slideshows, maybe even hook up an EyeTV 500 and watch some recorded HDTV. These are people who are used to connecting up a DVI cable to their comptuter and have it "just work," not people who will download DisplayConfigX and play around with the horizontal back porch.

And yet, here we have a TV whose native resolution is a useless (not divisible by 8) 1366x768 pixels, and whose DVI EDID block apparently claims its resolution is 1280x768. There is no way we can blame Apple, NVidia or ATI for not working out of the box with such a device.

Anyway, I was curious as to whether I could get this monitor to work with the DVI output of my PowerBook G4 (NVidia Go5200 chipset), and so I downloaded DisplayConfigX, paid Harald his $12, and started playing around. I finally got a set of parameters which look OK, even if the picture is hiding maybe 10 pixels on the right hand edge. And I have to boot the computer first before plugging in the monitor or everybody gets confused.

So here are my DisplayConfigX settings. Use at your own risk, knowing that I don't know what these really mean. [Update: I don't think this looks very good. If you set up this monitor better, please e-mail me the improved settings.] [Update 2: I would say this looks pretty darn awful, so I'm removing these settings.]

I should also say that I have very few complaints about the LT26HVX as a TV, or as a VGA monitor with my MythTV setup (after going through all the trouble to get it just so.). Hi-Def input from either VGA or component inputs looks great. I do complain about the remote setup. I wish that all devices had a dedicated on, and a dedicated off command so my Harmony 520 infrared remote wouldn't turn it off when it was already on. And it would be nice if the TV had dedicated remote codes for each of its inputs, again so the Harmony wouldn't have to go though the fragile process of keeping track of the current input.

[Update 3: From this thread on lcd-tv-reviews, I learn that older Syntax models can be fooled into behaving sort of correctly by setting the aspect ratio menu item to 4:3. Unfortunately, the LT26HVX and other newer models do not let you change the aspect ratio of DVI content. Thus, you cannot turn off the scaler, and DVI signals from a PC will always look lousy.]