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Soyo DYLT032D review: Soyo DYLT032D

So, yo, how low can you go? The Soyo DYLT032D is a 32-inch LCD HDTV with a price so low, you'll want to buy two--at least until you read the full review.

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David Katzmaier
David_Katzmaier.jpg

David Katzmaier

Editorial Director -- TVs and streaming

David has reviewed TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home entertainment gear at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

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6 min read

The Soyo DYLT032D's look is pretty bland: all black with a few chrome-colored accents. Soyo elected to go with speakers on the sides, a bad move in a world where most new HDTVs have speakers below the screen to save as much width as possible. This is especially important for midsize wide-screen HDTVs such as the Soyo, which are often asked to squeeze into entertainment centers designed for older, non-wide-screen televisions. Set atop the included stand, the DYLT032D measures 38.6 by 22.4 by 11.8 inches (WHD) and weighs 33.1 pounds.

4.3

Soyo DYLT032D

The Good

Inexpensive; 80-step zoom; relatively accurate color temperature for a budget LCD.

The Bad

Side-mounted speakers make for extra width; sparse input selection; no ATSC tuner for off-air HDTV reception; reproduces a light color of black; subpar picture with standard-def sources.

The Bottom Line

Despite its rock-bottom price and cool zoom option, the Soyo DYLT032D isn't much of a bargain compared to other inexpensive 32-inch LCDs.
Soyo DYLT032D
Like that broomstick in a game of limbo, prices on LCD HDTVs just seem to get lower and lower and lower. The Soyo DYLT032D is one of the least-expensive 32-inch flat-panel LCD sets out there right now, costing less than $800 at the time of this writing. The big question is whether it can squeeze under that low price bar without falling flat on its back.

As is often the case with budget LCDs, the included remote won't win any medals for ergonomics, cannot control other devices, and incorporates some unusual keys. A huge button labeled Bright is indeed the brightness control; why the designer chose to single it out among the other picture controls, such as contrast and color, is a mystery. The same wacky forces were apparently at work when YPrPb (that's component video to the rest of us), alone among the input types, scored its own direct-access button.

We've also never seen an HDTV with the Soyo DYLT032D's zoom. A rocker switch on the remote allows you to zoom 80 steps into the image, which is plenty of magnification, for example, to fill the screen with one of the small network logo watermarks in the lower right of many TV shows. You can also zero in on any portion of the screen. In addition to the zoom mode, there are two other aspect-ratio control settings, and all are available across every source and input.

The strangeness continues with the Soyo's input bay. Its single HDCP-enabled DVI port is the lone digital input, and while it works fine with HDMI sources as long as you have an adapter, most new LCDs have actual HDMI ports instead. There are two component-video inputs, but only one can accept progressive-scan and/or high-def sources; the second can handle only regular 480i sources. You'll find one of each composite-video and S-Video inputs, but they share a single set of audio jacks. We liked the presence of a VGA-style PC input (1,280x768 is the recommended resolution), but overall, the jack pack is subpar.

While most HDTVs available now, such as the similarly priced Westinghouse LTV-32W3, comply with the FCC tuner mandate and include an ATSC tuner for off-air HDTV reception, the Soyo does not. If you hook up this TV to an antenna, you'll get only standard-def TV, which naturally won't be a big deal if you depend on cable anyway. There is a versatile picture-in-picture setting, however, that allows many combinations of sources between the main and inset windows.

The Soyo offers a decent level of control over the picture. While there are no picture presets, independent input memories allow you to save your settings for different sources. There are also three color-temperature presets, as well as the ability to adjust color temperature manually in the user menu. The five-position slider labeled Backlight, unfortunately, had no appreciable effect on either absolute light output or black levels; going from 0 to 5 increased light output by a mere 6 footlamberts, from 79 to 85. Finally, the Fleshtone setting made the image too red to our eyes, so we left it turned off.

When setting up the Soyo for critical viewing, we noticed that its initial color temperature in the Warm preset came relatively close to the standard, and even after adjusting the manual controls, we didn't get it much closer. The consistency of the grayscale did vary with light output; the image became bluer as it got brighter, although in its favor, the Soyo didn't become nearly as blue as some LCDs we've tested. Unfortunately, the darkest areas became severely discolored, again toward blue, if we decreased contrast below 40 percent or so. We left it turned up, which made the image too bright for comfortable viewing in a dark room.

As expected, the Soyo was severely challenged by a lot of the darker scenes we chose. During the beginning of The Fifth Element, when the ship fires upon the planet-size malevolence, the dark areas of the picture, such as the letterbox bars and the depth of space, appeared noticeably lighter than they did on the ViewSonic N3260W, for example. In its favor, the Soyo delivered better-looking skin tones than the ViewSonic, thanks to its more accurate color temperature. In the classic Leeloo reconstruction sequence, her fair skin appeared significantly more natural and warmer.

Next, we checked out some standard-def video, and the results were less impressive. The Soyo DYLT032D has two component-video inputs, and while the 480i-only jack evinced proper 2:3 pull-down detection, the other did not, resulting in moving, jagged lines and other artifacts in film-based sources. Other sources, such as the waving American flag from the HQV test disc, produced more jagged edges, which the Soyo was incapable of smoothing out. We also found the need to increase the brightness control into the 70 percent range to avoid turning skin tones and other sensitive areas too red. Doing so washed out all of the colors, making them seem less vivid, and black areas appeared even lighter.

The Soyo DYLT032D also did something we'd never seen before. Seemingly at random, it would clip detail in bright areas, which resulted in lots of flat white fields where there should've been some darker zones and details. Oddly, the set didn't always do this, and we saw it on only the HD-capable component-video input with standard-def 480i material. When we switched our DVD player from 480p and back to 480i, the clipping went away for some reason, and the TV's menu settings didn't change.

When we tested the Soyo with high-def resolutions, we noticed that both 1080i and 720p, via component video and DVI, measured an impressive 0 percent overscan. In other words, the picture was reproduced all the way out to its edge. In contrast, most TVs crop the outer edges a percentage point or three so that you don't see any of the interference that's often visible at the extremes of the picture. Thanks to the Soyo's zoom, we were able to crop out as much of the picture as we wanted to remove any such interference.

Via HDMI, the Soyo exaggerated the edges of objects, so the jackets of the hosts on SportsCenter, for example, were surrounded by fine white borders against the black background. Normally, such edge enhancement can be reduced using the sharpness control, but for whatever reason, the DVI input doesn't allow control over sharpness. Overall, details with high-def sources appeared solid with 720p sources, although 1080i sources looked softer than on the ViewSonic via DVI. Since the Soyo didn't lose much--if any--detail when fed 720p HD sources via component video, we recommend you connect your HD source to this set via component video, which has a sharpness control that can be turned all the way down to reduce (but not eliminate) edge enhancement.

In sum, the Soyo DYLT032D won't blow anybody away with its image quality, even when compared to other inexpensive LCDs, such as the aforementioned ViewSonic and Westinghouse. It also offers fewer features than either one, and its wide cabinet will be a turnoff for a lot of people. On the other hand, if you want to zoom in on the smallest parts of the picture, the Soyo DYLT032D is the best game in town. If not, go for another budget set.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 6,197/7,199K Average
After color temp 6,436/7,000K Average
Before grayscale variation +/- 615K Average
After grayscale variation +/- 549K Poor
Color of red (x/y) 0.643/0.330 Good
Color of green 0.267/0.590 Average
Color of blue 0.146/0.059 Good
Overscan 0 % Good
Black-level retention All patterns stable Good
2:3 pull-down, 24fps Y* Good
Defeatable edge enhancement N Poor
*Only one of the two component-video inputs passed this test. See the review for details.
4.3

Soyo DYLT032D

Score Breakdown

Design 5Features 4Performance 4
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