Norcent LT-2090WPL review: Norcent LT-2090WPL

The Norcent LT-2090WPL offers passable video quality for a smaller LCD. In its default settings, the TV, like many LCDs, is incredibly bright, which helps in high ambient-light conditions, such as a strongly lit kitchen. In such situations, the Norcent's inability to render a deep black is a less noticeable a problem. It was also more difficult to notice the Norcent's uneven uniformity--the corners and sides of the screen appeared brighter than the middle--with the lights turned up. Of course, any television's video-quality issues become less noticeable in high ambient light.

The Norcent can show the full range from white to black, but its color reproduction with standard-def sources was not spectacular. While its primary colors measured somewhat close to average, with the exception of a yellowish green, and its color decoding was fine, the Norcent LT-2090WPL's color temperature was off significantly. This was mostly visible in darker areas, such as the bar scene from the Cop and a Half DVD where Nick McKenna (Burt Reynolds) gets tossed; the shadows under the bar and McKenna's black pants appeared too blue.

The set's video processing was better than we expected. The Norcent smoothed out jagged lines well, engaged 2:3 pull-down processing quickly, and delivered every line of resolution from DVD sources. It did convey plenty of video noise, primarily visible as moving dots or motes in flat backgrounds, making us wish the set had better noise-reduction circuitry. As Norman (Devon Butler) looks down at McKenna, for example, his yellow shirt and the wood ceiling appeared too noisy.

We tried the Norcent with an HD broadcast of the World Cup on ESPN2, Australia vs. Japan, and while we appreciated the details in the grass and the ability to distinguish faces in the crowd--par for the high-def course--we noticed too much edge enhancement. The score and the ticker, for example, had crunchy-looking edges, and faint, unnatural exaggeration was visible along the face of an advancing player during a close-up. In its favor, the Norcent maintained consistent image quality from off-angle, although it tended to wash out a bit.

Very few people choose a kitchen LCD based on picture quality, however, so the Norcent LT-2090WPL's image is probably good enough for just about any cook who wants to follow Oprah while whipping up lunch. We liked the set's style and mix of features, and while its $529 list price is a bit expensive for such a small off-brand television, the high-def capability might be worth it to some buyers.

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