Some folks associate flat-panels with HDTV. But there are some smaller, 4:3 models out there that are designed for people who want a relatively cheap, flat-panel TV for viewing standard-def sources. These types of sets will live primarily in kitchens, bedrooms, and home-office environments, and the budget-priced 20-inch Envision A20E221, manufactured by LCD giant AOC, distinguishes itself slightly from the competition by offering PC connectivity.
In terms of design, the Envision A20E221 is about as ho-hum as you get. Its plain, silver plastic housing sets the tone for this simple LCD TV. A thin, black bezel surrounds the screen, and large, silver speakers are permanently mounted to the left and right. A distractingly bright blue power indicator glares at you from below the bottom-right corner of the screen. The silver-colored base has two feet sticking out of the front and one supporting the back. Thankfully, the panel swivels and tilts at the point where the silver support post connects to the back of the panel. The included remote control isn't backlit, and the channel and volume controls are inconveniently stacked below the power button on the upper left.
With a native resolution of 800x600, the A20E221 doesn't have enough pixels to display 720p HDTV. It can, however, fully resolve both standard-definition (a.k.a. 480i) television, as well as progressive-scan (a.k.a. 480p) DVD program material. One NTSC tuner serves up standard-definition over-the-air television.
Inputs include one low-bandwidth component, one S-Video, one composite, one VGA, one RF, two stereo RCA pairs, and one stereo minijack. Outputs include one stereo RCA pair and one stereo minijack headphone output. The PC input enables this set to be used as a computer monitor, but don't expect great performance from its relatively low-resolution screen.
Convenience features include picture-in-picture and independent input memories. Color-temperature controls are available only when using the PC input and include Warm and Cool settings. The Black Level menu option is really a backlight control. It doesn't do nearly as much good as the backlight control on the , but it does help make the blacks more convincing than they would be otherwise. Even with it set to 0 though, we were still left wanting a blacker black.
Out of the box, the Envision A20E221's color temperature was one of the bluest we've ever seen. Darker parts of scenes had a much more bluish cast than the lighter parts of the picture. At the time of this writing, we were unable to conduct a proper calibration. There was a noticeable red push in all program material, which further contributed to the relatively inaccurate color.
This panel's poor black level was revealed in chapter 3, "Something's wrong," in The One, starring Jet Li. After the lights dim in the garage, the side panels of the police SUVs look as if they're flat. On better TVs, you can easily see ridges in the panels on the sides of the SUVs. Also, the Envision reproduced almost no detail in the intricate uniforms of the police as they shoot at Jet Li. The extremely blue color temperature lent a sickly cast to the film. Throughout the scene, Jet Li looked as if he was in the last stages of rigor mortis. In comparison, the color temperature of Sharp's significantly more expensive had a warmer cast, which, though also not perfect, was preferable to the Envision's drastic blue.
The opening scene of Star Trek: Insurrection showed that, while the TV has 2:3 pull-down, it doesn't engage quickly enough to pass our test. As a result, we saw plenty of motion artifacts such as moving diagonal lines and jagged edges in the picture.
The Envision A20E221 just couldn't stand up to our tough tests, but at 20 inches, it's highly unlikely anyone will use it for home theater. With that in mind, its low price makes it somewhat attractive if you're planning on using it in a room with high amounts of ambient light, such as a kitchen. So if you want a flat-panel to stash under your cabinets to watch an ex-con such as Martha Stewart give you tips on baking, this Envision may be up your alley. However, there are other inexpensive models out there that offer slightly slicker designs for just about the same price.
|Before color temp (30/80)||10,640/21,200K||Poor|
|After color temp||N/A|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 29,115K||Poor|
|After grayscale variation||N/A|
|DC restoration||All patterns stable||Good|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||No||Poor|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||No||Poor|