The first thing that'll strike you once you unpack the 30" (76cm) DV3080 LCD TV is that you've suddenly got a huge cardboard box to dispose of, complete with huge chunks of polystyrene foam. Having dealt with that particular recycling nightmare, you're then faced with an oddity in the current world of televisions, be they LCD or Plasma. BenQ's DV3080 forgoes the all-but-standard piano black stylings of most other vendors in favour of a very plain silver design scheme. Depending on your home decor, that'll either be a good or poor match. Controls for the TV sit on top of the TV in a small depression that effectively hides them except when you're peering over the top. All of the TV's AV connections take place on the rear via plugs that sidle up the back of the unit; this, as we discovered does have its downside -- but more on that later.
Like the TV unit itself, the DV3080's remote is relatively nondescript, and, to be honest, a touch on the chunky side. On the plus side, nobody should have trouble operating the remote which is laid out in an easy to follow fashion. Also included in the package is a box of connection cables for most connection types, although it should be noted that the one connection cable it doesn't include is standard VGA; if you're thinking of using the DV3080 as a PC presentation monitor you'll have to shell out extra for a cable.
The DV3080's been designed to be a simple to use TV. That will appeal to most users, although if you're an incurable tweaker, you may find the emphasis on preset modes and simple operation a touch irksome. Its base resolution of 1280x768 isn't spectacular -- especially if you are using it for PC operation -- but for regular TV watching it's certainly more than adequate. With a contrast ratio of 600:1 and brightness settings of 600cd/m2, it's suitable for watching in most lighting situations. The DV3080 is HD-compatible, but lacks an integrated tuner to complete that part of the equation.
From a connectivity standpoint, the DV3080 will accept component, composite, DVI, S-Video, VGA and SCART connections, all of which plug in from the rear of the unit, in the fairly standard "plugging upwards" configuration.
As with most large display TVs, Picture-In-Picture and Picture By Picture options abound, although at only 30", some display types don't really look their best next to each other. It's still a handy function for checking the cricket scores in the middle of watching a DVD, however.
The integrated speakers on the DV3080 protrude from both sides, and offer acceptable sound, although realistically if you've got the cash to spare on an LCD TV of this size, you'll be complimenting it with something meatier in the sounds department. Interestingly, however, you do have the option to add some oomph to the DV3080's sound, as it supports direct connection to any powered sub-woofer, if heavy bass is your thing.
Visually, there's not too much to complain about with the DV3080, which displayed bright and consistent images from all of its tested inputs with the naked eye. Testing in our US labs with the DV3080's little brother, the BenQ DV2680 revealed some colour problems, particularly a somewhat blue picture, but we're left wondering if our PAL version has been tweaked, as there seemed few problems with colours in our less formal testing period. As with most TVs, audio isn't stunning, but, as mentioned, it'd be a real waste to spend all that money on a unit this nice and then not connect up a decent -- or even mid-range -- sound setup to compliment it with.
We did hit a few sticking points with the DV3080, however. Like the Dell W1900, the BenQ DV3080 shares an input socket between its component and S-Video inputs, but the DV3080 takes it one little annoying step further. If there's even a cable plugged into the S-Video socket of the DV3080, it'll ignore looking at the composite input altogether -- and you can't in fact force it to do so. It's only by unplugging the S-Video cable that you can get any recognition for the composite inputs, which could be a factor if you're using both for, say, DVD and videogame console usage. It's doubly annoying because, unlike the Dell, which has its composite and S-Video inputs running down the side of the TV, the DV3080's inputs are all at the back, which means fiddling around tilting the TV and trying to find the correct plug slots if you need to make those kind of changes. On the subject of S-Video, for some reason during our testing the supplied S-Video cable decided that it would only output in monochrome. Once our initial panic subsided, we tested with another cable with much better results.
It's great to see the prices of larger-screen LCD televisions tumble as they have done in recent months, and while the truly mammoth TV space is still solidly occupied by Plasma (and to a lesser extent, rear-projection) TVs, units like the BenQ DV3080 add solid weight to the argument that the future of TV displays is in the LCD field.