It's hard not to feel disappointed with what Marantz offers here
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There's no separate media box on this 30in LCD - all the connections are from the screen's frame itself - so if you are wall-mounting you could find trailing wires to be a problem. That said, the LC3050's classic silver and black finish oozes the usual Marantz style, perfect for mounting on a wall.
There's no component video input - a bit of a blow - but otherwise the range of connections befits a flatscreen in this price range: you get two Scarts, as well as VGA and DVI sockets for PC connection.
What's more, the all-digital DVI input is also HDCP compliant, meaning that it doubles up as a high-quality digital video interface for HDMI and DVI outputting DVD players (like Marantz's superb DV12S2), as well as making the screen compatible with Sky's HD broadcasts planned for 2006. A couple of stereo audio inputs are included, as well as a dedicated connection for hooking up an active subwoofer to shake your walls down.
The screen is a 30in TFT panel with a pretty generous resolution of 1,280 by 768 pixels, but a closer look suggests that Marantz has opted for an older model. First, it's not a true widescreen shape, its aspect ratio being 15:9 rather than the standard 16:9; then there's the unimpressive 450:1 contrast ratio and, last of all, the response time isn't particularly speedy, which leads to rapidly moving objects creating a small but nonetheless visible blur.
These symptoms put the LC3050 at a disadvantage when facing the new panels sported by rivals; these have a true 16:9 shape and are blessed with higher response times, resolutions and contrast ratios.
The Marantz is ideal for those that aren't confident around technology, however, thanks to automatic tuning and well laid out on-screen menus that are easy to navigate with the remote control. There isn't a ton of extra functionality, but you do get picture-inpicture (and picture-on-picture), as well as the basics like teletext and a sleep timer.
The 15:9 aspect ratio is perhaps this TV's biggest weakness, because a lot of what we watch - including our test disc, The Motorcycle Diaries - is shown in widescreen. The LC3050 has to squash this slightly to fit it on to the screen. Sometimes you won't notice it, but occasionally you can tell that the image is just that little bit off being perfect, and this can be irritating. Thankfully, 4:3 material is displayed perfectly - but this is small consolation.
While it may not impress us as much as some newer screens, however, the LC3050 does provide a decent enough image - perhaps thanks to an extensive list of processing features. A built-in de-interlacing mode, for example, helps cut down the flicker and jaggies - if not wipe them out completely - caused by interlaced scanning.
This is great for a people-populated road movie like The Motorcycle Diaries. And if you are one of those lucky enough to own a DVD player equipped with an HDMI or DVI output, you can expect to see a picture of wonderful clarity and one that is almost completely free from ugly video noise.
Surprisingly for a company with Marantz's proud hi-fi history, the LC3050's stereo speakers provide only a respectable accompaniment to the picture and - as usual - those looking for something truly impressive may well want to add some dedicated home cinema speakers. But, hey, isn't that what hanging on the wall is all about (see picture, opposite)?
Overall, it's hard not to feel disappointed with what Marantz offers here. It is so close to being perfect, but its flaws let it down.
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