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Viewsonic N3200W review

Monitor maker tries to break into the TV market

Our Verdict

Viewsonic is still a generation away from competing seriously in the mainstream TV market

The N3200W is reasonably attractive thanks to its swish combination of grey inner frame and polished black outer frame. It also feels more robust than some budget rivals, too. However, the detachable grey speakers look a bit bland by comparison.

Happily ViewSonic's PC heritage hasn't blinded it to the key needs of today's TV buyer, as proved by the N3200W's provision of an HDCPenabled DVI jack and a set of component video inputs - both of which are HD compatible.

Unique in the confines of this group test, meanwhile, is the inclusion on the N3200W's fascia of slots for SD/MMC/Compact Flash/Memory Stick/Smart Media cards, for direct viewing of digital photos. More standard issue is a pair of Scarts, a VGA PC input, plus the customary S-video and composite video options.

The N3200W can be considered HD Ready, with its digital connections being backed up by a native resolution of 1280 x 766. Aside from this, though, it's all run of the mill stuff, with only a picture in picture system really worth a mention. In the lab, this screen delivered the lowest contrast ration in the entire group, only 195:1 after calibration.

The N3200W is a decent picture performer. The most striking aspect of its pictures - particularly when viewed alongside some of the 'softer' screens reviewed elsewhere - is their sharpness with every source bar the slightly mushy built-in analogue TV tuner. This clarity is down to good fine detail response, tight edges, minimal colour bleed or banding, and a general dearth of video noise. Hues are vibrant too, creating an eye-catchingly solid image .

Two predictable problems stop the N3200W from stealing my heart, though. First and worst is the hollow, contrast-light look of really dark parts of a picture, which means that there is precious little shadow detailing to be seen. Second, movement can smear slightly, a result of the set's mediocre screen response time.

Unfortunately the N3200W's presentable picture performance is let down quite badly by its audio. The speakers don't look very potent, and that's exactly how they sound.

The N3200W's images are good enough to suggest that Viewsonic has the potential to make a name for itself in the mainstream TV world. But I think we'll need to wait for a next generation product to realise that promise. John Archer