capsule review

LG Electronics RU-23LZ20

At a Glance
  • LG Electronics RU-23LZ20

LG Electronics RU-23LZ20
Photograph: Rick Rizner

New to the U.S. television market, LG (the parent company of Zenith) recently introduced the 23-inch RU-23LZ20, which had mixed results in our tests. At default settings, it displayed quite saturated colors--especially oranges and reds. We found them too intense for displaying standard NTSC television content. Curiously, we even saw this color bias in a black-and-white program that appeared normal on the other TVs we reviewed but had a sepia-like tint on the RU-23LZ20. The LG also showed a bit more shimmer when displaying TV content than we saw with most competitors--though the difference was not dramatic.

Image quality was far better when we switched to a progressive-scan DVD (Pirates of the Caribbean) via the RU-23LZ20's component inputs. The warm tint was less apparent, and some viewers found it very pleasing. Blues and greens were also rich, but not excessive. Some blues and grays took on a slight purple cast. The TV appears to enhance dark shades a bit, which has the effect of making some features more pronounced while wiping out subtler details. For example, we could see more clearly a streak of color in a woman's hair on the LG than on TVs from Dell and Sony, but those other TVs showed more midrange detail in the rest of her hair. Whether you like this enhancement or not is essentially a matter of personal preference.

More troublesome, we found, is the RU-23LZ20's glossy bezel. It lends the TV a snazzy look when it's off, but its reflections can be distracting when you watch the screen.

The RU-23LZ20 truly shines with high-definition content, as we saw while viewing clips from IMAX movies encoded in the Windows Media High-Definition Video format. Images were exceedingly crisp, and colors were rich and vibrant. The quality closely rivaled Mitsubishi's LT-2240, which we felt produced the very best HD performance in this group. Also like the Mitsubishi, the RU-23LZ20 rendered very dark blacks--an especially difficult task for LCD screens. Finally, unlike the Mitsubishi with its narrow viewing angles, LG's super in-plane switching (S-IPS) pixel technology better retains image contrast when you view it from an angle.

In contrast to the punchy colors, the RU-23LZ20 produced relatively muted audio from its bottom-mounted speakers, regardless of settings. An audio button on the slim black remote control lets you toggle through five preset modes (including Music, Movie, and Sports). You can also set a user-defined level by adjusting the RU-23LZ20's five-band graphic equalizer. However, no preset or custom setting could fully remedy the somewhat shallow tone of the audio.

As with audio, the RU-23LZ20 combines presets and custom controls for adjusting video quality. The EZ Video menu item features three preset and one configurable combination of brightness and contrast, while the Auto Color Correction item allows you to select among the three color temperatures of most TVs (Warm, Normal, and Cool) or to set a custom level by adjusting the individual red, green, and blue primary colors. The owner's manual adequately describes the controls and other options, but in an uninviting format with small type and small illustrations.

The RU-23LZ20 has a respectable number of video inputs--one component set, one S-Video port, and a pair of composite inputs. It also has an analog RGB input (but no DVI connector), for a computer. Most of the ports are on the back of the monitor, facing downward, making them a bit hard to reach. And finding the right port is tricky because they have only tiny, dull-gray labels. Color-coding would have made the labels much more helpful.

Though not stunning for standard TV content, the RU-23LZ20 performs well with DVD movies and is a joy for viewing high-definition material.

Sean Captain

This story, "LG Electronics RU-23LZ20" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • LG Electronics RU-23LZ20

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