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ViewSonic N35W review: ViewSonic N35W

ViewSonic N35W

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
7 min read
For the last three years, we've rated ViewSonic's 32-inch LCD HDTVs as relatively good performers for the price point, and the company's newest model, the N3235w ($679 street), doesn't buck the trend too much. Where this set falls a bit short is around back, where it just doesn't offer the same level of connectivity as some competing bargain HDTVs, such as the Vizio VX32L HDTV. If you're just looking for a simple, no-frills HDTV and don't want to connect a lot of gear, however, then the ViewSonic N3235w is a solid choice.

As did fellow bargain-price LCD maker Vizio--along with just about every other HDTV maker this year--ViewSonic chose to go glossy with its 2007 frame. The N3235w doesn't have any other remarkable design cues aside from its middling thick, glossy black frame. The perforated section of plastic below the screen, which contains the speakers, is par for the LCD course, and there's a big, silver power button smack in its midst. The rest of the controls are located along the top of the panel. The included stand brings the television's overall dimensions to 31.5 inches wide by 24.9 inches high by 8.3 inches deep and its weight to 37 pounds.


ViewSonic N35W

The Good

Inexpensive; picture controls include color temperature adjustment; relatively consistent picture from off-angle.

The Bad

Sparse connectivity; produces light color of black; no noise-reduction option; no backlight control.

The Bottom Line

The inexpensive ViewSonic N3235w offers decent picture quality, but its lightweight jack pack falls short of the competition.

ViewSonic packages a long, slender remote that's generic looking but thoughtfully laid out. The exception to the thoughtfulness is the three rows of identical keys at the top to control secondary functions. The simplistic menu system doesn't deserve any substantial criticism, and we liked that it displayed the numeric values that correspond to the various preset settings. It helps to know the value for Red in the Warm color temperature preset, for example, when adjusting the custom setting yourself.

As an entry-level flat-panel set, the ViewSonic has a sparse feature selection, beginning with a native resolution of 1,360x768. That pixel count allows it to display every detail of 720p HDTV sources, and as always, all sources including HDTV, standard TV, DVD, and computers are scaled to fit the pixels.

The N3235w's picture-adjustment capabilities, which are adequate for a TV in this league, include the ability to fine-tune the color temperature via a set of three controls, one each for red, green, and blue. There's also the standard array of three color-temperature presets. ViewSonic also throws in a selection of four picture presets, none of which can be adjusted, as well as a User mode that's independent per input. Our only big complaint is the lack of a dedicated backlight control--which was present on last year's N3260w as well as 2007 sets such as the Vizio VX32L HDTV.

ViewSonic is quick to tout the N3235w's included ATSC tuner, but since it's required by law nowadays that's hardly a noteworthy feature. There are five aspect-ratio selections for standard-def sources and four for HD sources, although the Normal mode seems to duplicate others. We appreciated the addition of a "no scale" mode, although it's really only useful with 720p sources, which appear with small, black bars on all sides and no scaling (ensuring a 1:1 pixel match with incoming material for maximum sharpness) to satisfy purists. 1080i sources in this mode just fill the screen. We also liked the Zoom key, which simply magnified the image.

Connectivity on the N3235w is a bit disappointing. While rivals such as Vizio sport two HDMI inputs, this bargain 32-incher gets by with just one. We counted just one each of the other types of standard inputs: composite video, S-Video, and component-video. As can be expected from a prominent manufacturer of PC monitors, the ViewSonic has a VGA-style PC input that handles resolutions up to 1,360x768.

All told, the ViewSonic N3235w is a good but not particularly noteworthy performer for its price point. It can't produce as deep a level of black as the Vizio VX32L HDTV, for example, but its off-angle viewing characteristics are superior.

As always, we began by adjusting the N3235w for optimal picture quality in a darkened room, which entailed, among other things, reducing the set's light output to a comfortable 40 footlambert. While the ViewSonic's Warm color temperature preset was more accurate than that of many budget flat-panel LCDs (see the Geek box bellow), it introduced too much green into the image. We adjusted the color temperature sliders to eliminate the extra green, but since the set lacks sliders to adjust the bottom of the grayscale, we couldn't hone it as accurately as we'd have liked. The N3253w also tended to dive toward green in darker areas if we adjusted the middle and lighter parts of the scale correctly. The best compromise was to get the dark areas (20 IRE) as accurate as possible and sacrifice some accuracy in middle and brighter areas--a compromise that resulted in worse results in the Geek box, but a somewhat more pleasing picture overall. For our complete picture settings, click here or check the Tips & Tricks section above.

After adjustment, we set the N3235w up alongside a couple of other 32-inch LCDs, namely the Samsung LN-T3253H and the aforementioned Vizio VX32L HDTV. To evaluate the ViewSonic's picture quality, we checked out the Bulletproof Monk Blu-ray disc on the Samsung BD-P1200 at 1080i resolution.

Not surprisingly for an inexpensive LCD, the ViewSonic N3253w produced a relatively light shade of black. Its letterbox bars and shadowy areas, such the recesses of the underground walls where Kar runs afoul of the punks, both appeared lighter than those of the other two LCDs. The lighter blacks made many shots on the ViewSonic appear slightly washed-out in comparison. Details in shadows, such as Kar's hair and the machinery in the background during his confrontation with the main punk, also looked slightly more realistic on the Samsung, although they were about the same as the Vizio.

The effects of our compromise color calibration were also apparent, especially in skin tones. In darker areas, such as when Jade quarrels with the punk leader in the subway car, her pale skin looked the most accurate of the three; her cheeks didn't look too red, and the variations from her cheeks to forehead were realistic. But in fully lit areas, such as when Jade chats up Nina at the museum, her face appeared slightly bluish and less lifelike than the others'. Of course, these color issues vary with how the set is adjusted, but our best compromise was still a bit less accurate than we'd like to see.

We did appreciate the accurate primary colors of the Vierwsonic, however, and its color decoding was relatively good, although greens were a bit undersaturated. One of the largest influencers of saturation and color vibrancy is deep black levels, so the N3235w's lighter blacks did rob the colors of some punch.

We found most other aspects of the ViewSonic's picture pleasing. There was no excessive false contouring in areas such as the smoky light streaming in through the museum windows or the shine of a light over Kar's shoulder as he stoops over the preresurrected Jade, although there was slightly more than the Samsung. We did detect slightly more noise than the Samsung showed in skies and other flat fields from our 6-foot seating distance, but the difference wasn't drastic.

Uniformity in flat-panel LCDs is always worth mentioning, and in the N3235w's case it's about average--similar to the Vizio's but not as good as that of the Samsung. We noted some variations in brightness, which appeared as slightly brighter vertical areas, visible primarily in dark fields. They also appeared in the film and other program material if we paid close attention, but didn't distract too much from our viewing experience. From off-angle, the ViewSonic didn't wash out nearly as noticeably as the Vizio, however (partly because it looked more washed out to begin with), and its color stayed true.

With standard-def sources, the ViewSonic performance was about average. It resolved every line of the DVD format, although we did see slight flicker in the finest horizontal lines from HQV's color bar pattern. We liked its relatively sharp details in areas such as a stone bridge and grass seen from a distance, and the fact it quickly engaged 2:3 pull-down detection. The ViewSonic was not good at smoothing out the jagged edges from moving diagonal lines, however, such as the waving American flag. We also would have really appreciated some kind of noise reduction; the intentionally noisy, low-quality shots of skies and flowers, for instance, looked worse on the ViewSonic than on either of the other two LCDs.

The ViewSonic N3235w unsurprisingly performed very well as a big PC monitor. It handled a resolution of 1,360x768 with no problem, resolving every line in both the horizontal and vertical axes according to DisplayMate. Text down to 10-point type was quite sharp and legible, and there was no pesky overscan of the desktop.

Before color temp (20/80) 6,487/6,455K Good
After color temp 6,500/7,063K Poor
Before grayscale variation +/- 116K Good
After grayscale variation +/- 411K Poor
Color of red (x/y) 0.641/0,334 Good
Color of green 0.272/0.604 Good
Color of blue 0.147/0.067 Good
Overscan 4.5 percent Average
Black-level retention All patterns stable Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Yes Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Y Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Fail Poor

Viewsonic N3235w Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 146.85 146.18 N/A
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.34 0.33 N/A
Standby (watts) 0.98 0.98 N/A
Cost per year $45.19 $44.99 N/A
Score (considering size) Poor
Score (overall) Good


ViewSonic N35W

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 6