capsule review

Honeywell Altura MLX 42-Inch HDTV

At a Glance
  • Honeywell Altura MLX

    TechHive Rating

    The inexpensive Honeywell Altura MLX may look like a bargain, but this HDTV disappoints all around.

Its estimated street price of $1040 (as of March 10, 2009) makes the 42-inch Honeywell Altura MLX tempting to bargain hunters. But disappointing image and sound quality, clumsy setup, and an utter lack of interesting features should convince you to look elsewhere.

The Altura MLX's poor layout makes attaching your DVD player and other sources of multimedia content to the TV a chore. The inputs are inconveniently situated in the back--recessed and downward-facing. Unlike the vast majority of HDTVs on the market today, the Altura MLX has no easy-access inputs on the side or front for when a friend turns up with a game console. Once you get everything plugged in and you turn the set on for the first time, you have to handle setup without a configuration wizard. (A typical TV calibrated for store display will be too bright for your home, which is why most TVs have setup wizards that ask where the TV is going to be viewed.)

The Altura MLX stumbled in our image quality tests. Owing to off color and poor resolution, David Letterman's face lacked definition and looked as if it had been painted orange with a broad brush; also, the stripes on his shirt were barely visible. The TV had trouble with motion, too, producing more pixelation than cars in a NASCAR race sequence. One judge noticed considerable noise in a clip from the sitcom According to Jim. Another noted, "unwatchable; [it] hurts my eyes."

The Altura MLX's sound quality disappointed us, too. The set lacks surround-sound emulation, and it doesn't demonstrate much dynamic range between quiet sounds and loud ones. A scene from The Phantom of the Opera where quiet talk suddenly gives way to a loud burst of organ music lost its emotional power because the Altura couldn't deliver the sudden, loud sound with any force.

This TV's design makes it unintuitive to use, as well. For instance, you must press the remote's Menu button to return to the previous menu (not the obvious choice, since most TVs let you backtrack with the left arrow key or with a special Return button). Furthermore, there are no on-screen explanations and no shortcut menu for frequently changed options.

The included remote isn't particularly well-designed. You can program it, but only the volume and channel buttons light up, and many of the buttons are too small, too close together, and too difficult to differentiate with your thumb. The remote has a PiP button, but it doesn't serve any purpose here because this HDTV has no picture-in-picture feature. Nor does it support SD Cards, USB, or any other special features.

Though the Altura MLX carries a low price, its lackluster image and sound quality, unspectacular feature set, and poor design make it something less than a great deal. Better options at a comparable price include the 42-inch Philips 42PFL7403D/F7 ($1100), the 42-inch Sharp LC-42D85U ($1100), and the 37-inch Samsung LN37A550 ($935).

This story, "Honeywell Altura MLX 42-Inch HDTV" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    The inexpensive Honeywell Altura MLX may look like a bargain, but this HDTV disappoints all around.

    Pros

    • Low price

    Cons

    • Substandard image quality
    • Clumsy to set up
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