TVs with built-in VCRs are commonplace, but sets with built-in DVD players are relatively rare. The Westinghouse LTV-40W1HDC, a 40-inch flat-panel LCD HDTV, is one of the most appealing we've seen recently, and it does a good job of tightly integrating a slot-loading DVD player. Whether it's worth getting this combo set vs. a stand-alone TV depends on your needs; many people already own DVD players and may not care about the combo. But the convenience of slipping in a disc and having it begin playing, without having to switch inputs or deal with an external player, could appeal to a lot of people, especially families with kids who watch a lot of DVDs. The Westinghouse LTV-40W1HDC might not boast as impressive a picture as many competing stand-alone models, but its sub-$2,000 price will heighten its appeal. Westinghouse also offers a 32-inch version with a built-in DVD player, model LTV-32W4HDC. The Westinghouse LTV-40W1HDC's coolest feature is its built-in slot-loading DVD player. Slipping a DVD into the slot on the front of the set causes it to automatically turn on, switch to the DVD input, and begin playing the disc. We appreciated the design's convenience, as well as the fact that you don't need to use one of the set's inputs for an external DVD player.
The DVD slot blends nicely into the area below the screen and between the speakers. A defeatable blue LED illuminates the slot, and you can find the eject button nearby. Otherwise, the LTV-40W1HDC looks just like a standard flat-panel LCD. Its comparatively pedestrian exterior is charcoal gray around the screen with a strip of lighter gray across the middle and pale silver to either side. The foot of the included matching stand can be removed if you want to wall-mount the set, but the TV doesn't seem designed for it, not least because its depth is a little more than 5 inches without the foot. The whole set measures 41.4 by 28.3 by 8.9 inches (WHD) and weighs 34.5 pounds.
Westinghouse's bland remote offers up OK ergonomics, and while we didn't expect backlighting or the ability to control other gear, we would have appreciated a bit more tactile differentiation among the keys to aid navigation by feel. In its favor, the clicker has direct-access buttons for each of the inputs, with the unfortunate exception of HDMI; to access that source, you have to cycle through all nine by pressing Input repeatedly.
The remote includes eight keys devoted to the DVD player (menu, play/pause, stop, setup, chapter forward and reverse, and scan forward and reverse), and the directional keypad controls DVD menus when in DVD mode. Unfortunately, there's no key for Title (a.k.a. Top) menu access, which can make navigating some discs a relative pain. The set's side panel also has basic controls for the DVD player and the television, in case the remote goes missing.The Westinghouse LTV-40W1HDC's chief feature, naturally, is the built-in DVD player. Although we appreciate the convenience, we miss a few of the functions found on most normal DVD players. There's no slow motion or frame-by-frame transport, no search or other function to jump directly to specific chapters or titles (of course, you can still proceed to chapters or scenes if the DVD's menu has that option), and no way to resume playback from where you left off after ejecting the disc, although it will resume if the disc isn't ejected. We also wished for some sort of display for elapsed time and title/chapter information; the LTV-40W1HDC has neither a front-panel readout nor any way to view such info onscreen.
Otherwise, the LTV-40W1HDC's feature set is pretty standard for a big flat-panel LCD. Like most of its competition, it has a native resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. That's plenty to display all the detail of 720p HDTV sources, and all material, whether from DVD, HDTV, standard TV or a computer, is scaled to fit the native resolution.
Conveniences include an ATSC tuner and a picture-in-picture mode with side-by-side and inset options. We were disappointed that the LTV-40W1HDC offers only two choices for aspect-ratio: Standard (for 4:3 programs) and Fill (for wide-screen). We would have liked to see a zoom option too, which would allow the set to display letterbox, nonanamorphic DVDs properly. If we wanted to watch the upcoming non-special-edition Star Wars films, for example, we'd have to choose between a stretched picture or one with black bars on all four sides.
Westinghouse throws in a couple picture-adjusting features as well. Although there aren't any picture presets, the television offers independent input memories to make it easier to tweak the set for various sources. While we like the adjustable backlight control, we don't like that its range of adjustment was extremely narrow; sliding it all the way up or down didn't have as much effect as other such controls we've seen. You can choose from three color-temperature presets, and we found Color 1 to be the most accurate.
The LTV-40W1HDC offers average connectivity for a 40-inch LCD. It includes a single HDMI input, two component-video inputs, and one each of S-Video and composite; the last two unfortunately share one set of analog audio inputs. There's also a VGA-style PC input (1,360x768 is the recommended resolution), an RF input for antennas, and both analog and digital audio outputs. We would've liked a set of side-panel easy-access inputs, as well as a second HDMI input, but since the DVD player is built in, we don't expect many users to miss these jacks.Overall, the Westinghouse LTV-40W1HDC's image quality can't compete with that of the better big-screen LCDs we've tested, but its built-in DVD player performed solidly in our tests.
First, we checked out the Westinghouse's ability to handle darker scenes with a variety of DVD material, and the results were less satisfactory than with either of the two (the Sharp LC-37D40U and the Samsung LN-S4051D) LCDs we had on hand to compare. During John Connor's first dream sequence from the Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines DVD, for example, the Westinghouse evinced a lighter shade of black in the letterbox bars, and black areas appeared too bluish. The biggest issue, however, was lack of detail in the shadows. As he awoke after the robot stare-down, for example, the wrinkles in his pants appeared indistinct, and the stripes in his blanket disappeared abruptly into the shadows instead of fading naturally as they did on the other two sets.