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Kreisen KR-320T review: Kreisen KR-320T

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The Good Somewhat attractive design.

The Bad Dismal black-level performance; nondefeatable edge enhancement; no 2:3 pull-down detection; extremely blue color temperature; limited input flexibility.

The Bottom Line This no-name LCD isn't much of a bargain, and its image quality is less than impressive.

3.5 Overall
  • Design 4
  • Features 5
  • Performance 2

Review Sections

In the manual for the KR-320T, Kreisen notes that it gets the raw LCD panels for these TVs from Samsung. The implication is that this TV should somehow measure up to the standards of Samsung's LCD TVs in side-by-side comparisons. The unfortunate truth is that a lot more goes into a good TV than just a slab of pixels. In the case of the KR-320T, a lot of those other things either aren't there or aren't up to snuff. For about less money, Syntax's Olevia LT32HV delivers a much better black level, 2:3 pull-down, and a more attractive package. For a few hundred bucks more, the real thing (Samsung's very own LT-P326W) performs even better.

With its black bezel and silver speakers, we wouldn't call the Kreisen beautiful, although it's certainly not as plain-looking as Dell's W3000. A completely black design like the Olevia's would probably blend better into a home theater, but Kreisen edged the screen in black. A pair of nonremovable speakers flanks the screen, while buttons for menu access, channel and volume control, input selection, and power are on the left side of the panel.

Despite the fact that the white remote doesn't have direct input access, we found it comfortable to hold, with sensibly laid out buttons. Plus, it's backlit--quite a surprise in a budget LCD.

With a native resolution of 1,366x768, the KR-320T should have enough pixels to display full 720p HDTV (see below). All incoming video signals, including standard-def, progressive-scan, and computer resolutions, are scaled to fit the available pixels. As with most inexpensive flat panels, you'll have to add an external tuner if you want HDTV. A lone NTSC tuner serves up regular TV.

Single-tuner picture-in-picture tops the meager list of convenience features. Another significant time-saver, and one that we love, is independent input memories, which lets you adjust the picture once for each type of source. All of the set's aspect-ratio selections are available with both standard and high-def sources, and the choices include 16:9 (displays 16:9 sources properly), 14:9 (zooms in slightly to match some computer sources), Zoom (crops 4:3 sources to fill the screen), 1:1 (displays all incoming sources without change), and 4:3 (displays 4:3 sources properly). A stretch mode, to fit 4:3 sources on the screen without cropping, would've been nice.

Connectivity, especially compared to sets such as the Samsung LT-P326W, isn't that impressive. The back of the panel has one component, one S-Video, one composite, one DVI (compatible with HDCP copy protection), one coaxial RF, one VGA computer, one stereo minijack audio, and two stereo RCA audio inputs. Outputs include one stereo RCA audio, one RCA subwoofer, one composite video, and one headphone minijack. If you plan to watch both HDTV and DVD, either one of them will need to have DVI, or you'll have to run your DVD player via S-Video.

Despite the supposed advantages of using a name-brand panel, the KR-320T did not fare well in our tests. For starters, initial color temperature (as of press time, we were unable to access the service menu to perform a proper calibration; see the geek box for more) measured severely blue even in the so-called 6,500K position. The color decoder fared better, however, evincing only minor red push, while primary colors exhibited typical LCD abnormalities--reds were orangey, greens were lime. Overall color reproduction, despite the accurate color decoding, was decidedly disappointing. It wasn't helped by the fact that many controls, including color temperature, are available only when passing a 480p or higher resolution signal through the DVI or component inputs.

Our video torture tests left the KR-320T begging for mercy. Lines and diagonals in the opening scene of Star Trek: Insurrection devolved into dancing jagged lines, revealing the TV's lack of 2:3 pull-down detection. Geometric test patterns and program material verified a clearly noticeable curvature along the top edge of the screen when watching 480p or higher via component video. We moved the picture position up to minimize it, but only at the cost of sacrificing the topmost portion of the picture.

"Chapter 2: Autopilot" from the Alien DVD revealed this panel's dismal blacks. Darker parts of the hallway walls, which usually contain pipes and metal plates, were displayed as dark, purplish-gray blotches. Video artifacts populated most of the picture.

Switching to the DVI input didn't clear up much of the noise, although it did improve the visible resolution of high-def sources, according to our Accupel HDTV signal generator. While DVI didn't let the Kreisen quite approach full 720p resolution (except in the 1:1 aspect ratio, which leaves a border around the image), it came very close. Component video, on the other hand, appeared much noisier and softer at the highest resolutions. We definitely recommend hooking any HDTV sources to this set via DVI and saving the component input for a progressive-scan DVD player.

Compared directly to the Olevia LT32HV and the Dell W3000, the Kreisen KR-320T is the worst of the bunch. The Dell's black level is definitely better, revealing more details in dark scenes. The Olevia comes even closer to a real black, while maintaining a fair amount of detail in darker scenes. In short, if you want a budget-priced, midsize LCD, the Olevia, even with its faults, is a better choice than this panel. If you're willing to step up for the sake of a better picture, Sharp's LC-32G4U or the aforementioned Samsung LT-326W would be worthy choices.

TESTRESULTSCORE
Before color temp (30/80)13,000/13,000KPoor
After color temp (30/80)13,100/12,100KPoor
Before grayscale variation+/- 6,789KPoor
After grayscale variation+/- 6,389KPoor
Overscan3%Good
Color decoder error: red+5%Good
Color decoder error: green0%Good
DC restoration(See below)Good
2:3 pull-down, 24fps(N)Poor
Defeatable edge enhancement(N)Poor

Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.

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