The TXN3098WHF is a slight update to Samsung's 2002 30-inch wide-screen HDTV, the . When it comes to video processing and color reproduction, the new version is actually a step down. But it does add a DVI input for state-of-the-art digital connectivity, and with a street price of around $1,000, this Samsung is an attractive deal for anyone interested in an entry-level HDTV.
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The TXN3098WHF and its predecessor are equally attractive. On the outside, in fact, they're almost indistinguishable. Within the face's silver edges, a charcoal-gray bezel frames the flat, wide-screen CRT display. The circular power key sits alone on the front of the set, centered below the screen between two front-firing stereo speakers. There are no flip-down doors. Instead, the other controls and a few connections live on the cabinet's sides: six buttons on the right and a set of A/V inputs on the left.
The remote has adequate but not stellar ergonomics. Its keys are neither backlit nor illuminated, and the 12 buttons under the slide-down door include a frequently used input selector. The control can command up to four other home-theater devices (such as a cable box, a VCR, and a DVD player), including those from other manufacturers.
It may not be as large or as sexy as an LCD or plasma flat panel, but the TXN3098WHF can still display 1080i HDTV when connected to an outboard tuner, as well as 480p from a progressive-scan DVD player. And the set's video processor converts regular incoming signals, such as cable and VHS, to progressive-scan format to produce a stabler picture.
In addition to the wide (16:9) and standard (4:3) aspect ratios, you get two zoom levels and a panorama mode, which fills the screen with a 24-inch 4:3 image by stretching its sides but not its center. Choices beyond 16:9 are limited to 480i sources, so you'll need a progressive-scan DVD player with aspect-ratio control to properly display nonanamorphic DVDs. A picture-in-picture mode is also available, but it can toggle between only the composite and RF inputs.
Complementing the TV's five audio presets are a full five-band graphic equalizer and Midnight mode, which moderates excessive disparities between low and high volumes. There's also a built-in subwoofer that you can divert to an external output or, if you're bass-shy, turn off.
On the connectivity front, we were pleased to discover three versatile HD-capable inputs. The two component connections can accept 480i, 480p, and 1080i video. They're a step up from previous Samsung TV hookups with either 480i/480p or 480p/720p/1080i configurations, which frustrate attempts to view signals alternating between 480i and 1080i, such as Xbox output. The single DVI jack has HDCP copy protection, so it's compatible with matching all-digital outs on next-generation DVD players and set-top boxes. Note that the TXN3098WHF cannot accept a 720p HDTV signal at all; HDTV from ESPN or ABC must be converted to 1080i by an external HDTV tuner.