Dell W3202 review

We said it wouldn't work and it doesn't

Dell delve into the LCD land

TechRadar Verdict

This is a good start for LCD PC territory but there's still a lot of work to do


  • +

    Audio is good


  • -

    Pictures are poor

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PC into LCD TV won't go - least that's the mantra we've chanted during our previous encounters with PC manufacturers who've had a stab at the LCD TV game.

Yet on paper, this 32in offering from Dell looks set to buck the trend, with features and connections that are aimed squarely at your living room. A shame then that the reality is somewhat different.

This W3202 looks OK - if you've a soft spot for PC monitors - and its detachable speakers look like they could fill a room or two. The TV is HD-ready with a native resolution of 1366 x 768, claimed contrast of 1000:1 and a brightness of 450cd/m2 - all standard, but encouraging.

Connectivity is also promising, with a real attention to detail for living room appliance sensibilities that other PC/TV crossovers miss out. There are digital HDMI and DVI sockets, and analogue component video jacks for high-definition feeds, along with a rearguard of two Scarts, a PC VGA input, subwoofer and digital audio line outs and a common interface (showing that this TV has a built-in digital tuner).

The digital tuner is the thing that caused most of our teeth gnashing. Attempts to access the TV's seven-day electronic programme guide are exercises in frustration. Instead of the multiple channel listings you only get information for the channel you're watching at the time.

And you can only scroll ahead by a single programme at a time. As an EPG is a vital part of any integrated digital TV, it's essential that it's easy and quick to use: this one is neither.

Pixelworks DNX image processing is on board, which augers well for the picture performance. However, all the good work done by the specifications is undone by the pictures.

Party killer

Spinning our standard-definition test DVD of 24 Hour Party People, we were very disappointed. Dark areas of the Hacienda nightclub look bluish rather than black, making the experience lacking in life. Similarly, colours aren't up to much either, leaving bright scenes looking drab. And there's plenty of smearing during the movie's faster paced scenes.

Still, plus points include reasonable levels of fine detail without much attendant video noise, and the outdoor scenes on the Manchester Moors look convincingly bright. But overall, the picture's a damp squib. Things don't really improve with a high-definition feed of Planet Earth from a Sky HD receiver: similar sorts of problems apply.

Although the picture quality does improve to a relative degree - it's a high-definition feed after all - we've seen much more exciting and convincing hi-def action elsewhere - not least within the confines of this group test.

All this is rather a shame for this Dell, as its sonics are astounding. Boosted with a SRS TruSurround XTTM virtual surround sound the soundstage from the 30W speakers is really impressive: in fact the scenes where Joy Division are rehearsing nearly brought a tear to this jaded reviewer's eye.

Dell has made a bold attempt to crash into the LCD TV market, but there's plenty of work to do here. Let's hope it doesn't take our review too much to heart: after all Dell hath no fury than a TV scorned. was the former name of Its staff were at the forefront of the digital publishing revolution, and spearheaded the move to bring consumer technology journalism to its natural home – online. Many of the current TechRadar staff started life a staff writer, covering everything from the emerging smartphone market to the evolving market of personal computers. Think of it as the building blocks of the TechRadar you love today.