Lately, HP has been making big inroads into the home-theater world. The company helped develop Texas Instruments' 1080p "wobulating" DLP light engine and is introducing a lineup of innovative rear-projection TVs. Unfortunately, like most participants in the current war to win your flat-panel LCD investment, HP's 30-inch LC3040N is a mixed bag in terms of performance. Unlike most of those participants, it also costs a bit more than it should.
HP's glossy black design gives the LC3040N an understated, relatively classy look. It ships without its speakers attached, so if you plan on using your own speakers, you won't have to remove any first. The silver base detracts a bit from the effect of the nice black bezel and doesn't let you rotate or tilt the screen. Though lightweight with rounded edges, the full-size remote isn't backlit. There are no dedicated input-selection buttons, but most important functions are within thumb's reach.
The LC3040N's native resolution of 1,280x768 should be enough to display full 720p HDTV. As with almost all LCD TVs, incoming signals are scaled to fit the panel's available pixels. A single NTSC tuner serves up standard-definition over-the-air television. You can watch high-def on this LCD, but you'll need an external tuner or an HD cable or satellite box.
Convenience features include independent input memories and picture-in-picture. There are also color-temperature controls and limited RGB controls but only when using the DVI input. Aspect-ratio control includes Normal, which displays 16:9 sources properly; 4:3 to display 4:3 sources properly; and Panorama, which fills the screen by stretching the sides of the image. These choices are apparently available with HD material, but there's no visible difference between Panorama and Normal, and 4:3 does not scale the image properly, so switching aspects in HD is pretty futile.