Dell W2300 23-Inch LCD TV
At a Glance
Like the girl or boy next door, the Dell W2300 is a safe bet. It doesn't have the prom-queen or prom-king dazzle of some other TVs we reviewed, nor does it have their mercurial temperaments. It performed respectably and consistently in all of our tests, though it wasn't a standout in any of them. Also, it's a relatively cheap date: At $1599, it was the second least-expensive TV of the five models we reviewed.
Unlike those other TVs, the Dell had a low level of color saturation in its default settings. It was just a bit muted for standard NTSC television content--which had an orange or red tint on the other TVs. But in our screening of the DVD movie Pirates of the Caribbean, colors were noticeably dull, and skin tones had a grayish cast that gave the characters a sickly appearance. We saw similarly muted colors when viewing high definition clips from IMAX movies encoded in the Windows Media High-Definition Video format. Pushing up the color level (and the brightness) improved images on the Dell, though they did not match the vibrancy of those on the Mitsubishi LT-2240 and LG RU-23LZ20 or the subtlety of Sony's 21SG2.
The Dell also trails the Sony and the Mitsubishi in audio quality. Its speakers produce plenty of volume, but they sound a bit flat, lacking the depth and openness of the Mitsubishi and the Sony. They roughly match the quality of sound from the Gateway 23-inch LCD TV and come out ahead of the LG RU-23LZ20.
Of the five LCD TVs, Dell's W2300 bears the closest resemblance to a traditional computer monitor--and that's not a bad thing. Perhaps the best carryover from the computer genre is the W2300's stand, which allows not only smooth tilt and swivel adjustments but also about four inches of height adjustment. Raising the screen simplifies access to the downward-facing ports, including DVI and analog RGB for computers as well as component, S-Video, and one of two composite inputs. The DVI input does not support HDCP, so you will not be able to view future copy-protected content delivered in digital form. However, most HDTV and DVD content today is delivered in analog form without copy-protection measures.
Dell's warranty is standard in length (one year), but it has an impressive policy on dead pixels. Some vendors guarantee that 99.99 percent of pixels will function. That sounds good, until you do that math and realize that it allows for 98 dead pixels on a screen of the Dell's resolution (1280 by 768)--an intolerable level of defects. Dell, in contrast, permits only five dead pixels on the W2300.
The one truly disappointing feature of the Dell is its small, pewter-colored remote control, which produced the weakest signal we encountered. Commands often failed to register even when we stood two feet away from the TV and aimed straight at the infrared receiver.
The W2300 performed acceptably in all of our quality tests, but it didn't shine in any of them. That consistency, combined with its fairly low price and high quality guarantee, make it a safe choice for people who will be using it for the full range of content sources: standard and HD TV, DVD, and PC.