A growing number of consumers consider the 30-inch LCD TV ideal for a bedroom or a family room. Unfortunately, aside from the Sony KLV-30XBR900 and a few other models, 30-inch LCD panels aren't well suited to the home theater, and Gateway's version is no exception. It also faces serious competition from similarly priced LCDs, such as Sharp's and LC-30HV2U, Philips's 30PF9975, and Samsung's 32-inch . But this set does have independent input memory and a native resolution that can handle high-definition sources. And at less than $3,000, it's significantly more affordable than the Sony. So, if you're not really nitpicky about picture quality and you primarily watch television as opposed to movies, this Gateway will certainly do the job.
The set's design is extremely minimalist, which is not altogether a bad thing. Unfortunately, the screen's frame is a 1.6-inch-thick swath of Gateway's trademark bronze, which is ugly enough to put off many customers before they even turn on the TV. Other than the smallish logo centered at the bottom of the frame, there isn't much else to the exterior.
The set measures a scant 3.9 inches deep, but if you want it on the wall instead of the included swiveling table stand, you'll need to purchase one of the hardware kits, which start at $49. Gateway hid most of the input jacks along the left-hand side to help conceal wires. The company provides a pair of matching external speakers, each with a removable base (not pictured), but you can detach them and use a separate sound system.
We liked the functionality of the big, many-buttoned remote, but first-time users will probably find it confusing. It provides one-push access to a few important inputs, and every key is blue-backlit. The internal menu system is simple and easy to navigate.
Since it boasts a native resolution of 1,280x768 pixels, this 30-inch LCD qualifies as a high-definition monitor. It can display every detail of 720p HDTV and, like all fixed-pixel displays, converts incoming material to fit the available pixels. You'll need an external tuner to watch HDTV.
Topping the list of convenience features is the picture-in-picture mode. It's particularly useful when you're substituting the display for your PC monitor; while you work on your computer, you can watch TV in one corner of the screen. You can also view two same-size images side by side instead of calling up the inset window. And a built-in NTSC tuner enables the TV to receive off-air programming and tune cable channels on certain systems. An 8-watt internal amplifier drives optional outboard speakers.
You get several picture modes, including Game, User, Standard, Dynamic, and Mild. Each has its own preprogrammed color temperature and picture settings. But our favorite feature is the set's ability to remember your custom settings for individual inputs, which makes it convenient to configure them for different sources.
The side-panel connectivity options are reasonably comprehensive. A DVI port is included, but since it doesn't have HDCP copy protection, it may not operate reliably with all HDTV receivers or DVI-equipped DVD players, though it worked fine with our V Bravo D1. There are also two sets of component-video jacks: the one labeled HDTV can accept any signal; the other is intended for non-progressive-scan DVD decks and takes only 480i. Rounding out the inputs are one for S-Video, two for A/V (composite video only), one for a computer (a VGA-style 15-pin hookup), one for RF, and an RS-232 control port.