Norcent is one of many less familiar brands proffering smaller-screen LCDs, and its LT-2090WPL, a 20-inch wide-screen model, tries to stand out with a slick design and HDTV display capability. If you're looking for a set for the bedroom or kitchen and insist in HD display capability and a wide screen, this is one of the slicker choices around.
With its kitchen-friendly white exterior, the Norcent LT-2090WPL would be at home on countertops or alongside iPods. The company also makes a black version, model LT-2090WBK. The set's 20-inch-diagonal screen sits above the speakers, and the overall styling is a cut above that of most budget sets, with rounded-off top and bottom edges, glossy black accents along the sides, and a silver strip between the speakers and the screen. Norcent includes a matching tilt stand, and when it's taken into account, the entire unit measures 20.8 by 17.7 by 7.3 inches (WHD) and weighs 17.6 pounds.
The distinctive styling carries over to the unusually large remote, which bends about 35 degrees at two-thirds down its length; it looks like a clamshell cell phone and fits in the hand like an awkward ray gun. While we found the remote easier to pick up from a coffee table, the bend interfered with our ability to reach most of the buttons. We are fans of the dedicated input-selection keys, however.
The Norcent's feature set starts with its ability to display HDTV sources, which not every small-screen LCD can claim. Its 1,366x768-pixel screen is a typical native resolution for LCDs and enables it to show every detail of 720p high-def sources. All sources, including HDTV, computers, DVD, and standard television, are scaled to fit the pixels.
Norcent includes a standard TV tuner in the LT-2090WPL, but you'll need to connect an external tuner, such as a cable or satellite box, to watch HDTV. Picture-in-picture is a nice addition, although somewhat limited. It works only when the main source is the PC input, and we would have liked the ability to view HDTV in the small window and the option to make the small window larger.
The picture controls are basic, lacking items such as color-temperature control, although there is an adjustable backlight labeled black level. While we appreciated the independent input memories, we would've liked to see a picture preset or two.
Hidden behind a removable panel, the Norcent's jack pack offers a component-video input (the sole high-def-compatible input on the set); an A/V input with S-Video; another one without; an audio output; and an RF antenna input. There's also a VGA-style PC input with audio, but since this set's recommended resolution is only 1,280x768 and it lacks DVI, you shouldn't use it primarily as a computer monitor. Overall, the Norcent LT-2090WPL's input selection is exactly what we expect on an HDTV such as this, and while a digital input would've been grand, it's unlikely to be missed by many people.