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Syntax-Brillian Olevia 747i LCD HDTV

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder 747i LCD HDTV

    TechHive Rating

    Poorly designed television compensates with very good picture quality.

To see a good example of "too clever for its own good," check out the Olevia 747i's on-screen menus. The bolt-like gadget that appears when you click the remote's Menu button is original and kind of cute. But when you try to use it, you quickly discover that cuteness and originality come at the expense of practicality. The dang thing just doesn't put enough information on the screen. For instance, when you want to adjust the picture, it displays only one video option at a time.

Once the television was properly adjusted, it looked pretty good. In our picture quality tests, the Olevia finished third out of nine 46- and 47-inch HDTV sets tested at the same time--and not far off the scores posted by the second-place Vizio VO47LF and first-place Samsung LN46A550. The jury appraisals included a few negative comments: Two judges noted a slight graininess in some images, and I thought that Dave Letterman's skin tone in a Late Show clip was a bit dark. But there was praise for the set as well. One judge observed that a scene from our test clip of According to Jim "really looks natural."

The sound quality was good as well. Quiet sounds came across clean and clear, and loud music had the desired oomph. Syntax-Brillian designed the speakers so that users can remove them and mount them elsewhere--or connect two external speakers directly to the TV.

The remote is exceptionally good, too, with backlighting that turns on when you press any button. Most of the important buttons are big and well placed.

In other ways, however, the Olevia is absurdly difficult to use. The back of the TV is so poorly designed that I had trouble finding the AC power connector. The quick-start guide--an almost wordless collection of illustrations--showed only that it was somewhere on the back of the TV. The full manual comes not on paper, but as a PDF file on an included CD. To make things worse, the PDF file contains bitmaps of text rather than real text. It's worst-of-both-worlds documentation: nothing on paper, and an electronic version that you can't search.

On the positive side, when you turn the television on for the first time, the Welcome wizard asks whether you're viewing the set in a showroom or at home. That gets around the big out-of-the-box flaw in all TVs: They've been adjusted to look good in a store, not in a home.

If Syntax-Brillian had concentrated more on making the Olevia 747i easy to use and less on making it cool and unusual, this would be a very good TV. As is, it's still worth considering for your living room.

This story, "Syntax-Brillian Olevia 747i LCD HDTV" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    Poorly designed television compensates with very good picture quality.

    Pros

    • Very good picture and sound
    • Excellent remote

    Cons

    • Horrible on-screen menu navigation
    • Lackluster extras
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