Thomson 30LCDB03B: test and review

Thomson is a French brand known for having developed number of image technology and sound that are still reference in the professional world. So it was with an inquisitive mind that we discovered the manufacturer’s LCD TVs through this new model of 30 inches that has been a fairly successful aesthetic. Thirty inches, this corresponds to an image of 75 cm diagonal 16 / 9th format. An intermediate screen size which is an ideal compromise for a family looking to replace the traditional CRT television with a flat screen.

The 30LCDB03B uses latest generation of LCD panel which offers a brightness of 500 cd / m2, contrast ratio of 500: 1 and especially a 16 ms response time. The LCD panel’s response time is very important: it defines the time it takes for each pixel of the screen to move from one state to another, that is to say, the time that elapses between display of an image and the next. Over that time is short, make the image appear smooth and natural. Regarding the brightness, contrast and response time, Thomson is among the best in its class, even if objectively it is still very, very far from the results obtained with a single CRT TV.

To assist this slab, Thomson has developed a new digital frame called Hi-Pix will arrange to deinterlace the image, convert it to digital if necessary and improve through video processing that acts both on colors that the contrast to closely fit the characteristics of a LCD. Amid all these efforts to optimize the qualities of this flat screen, one will be surprised not to find anti-reflection treatment of the slab. A regrettable lack that stands out at first glance, as the screen, even off, returns the user’s image as a mirror. That does not bode well if the unit is installed in a living room exposed to different light sources. Like a real TV, the Thomson offers recessed speakers share side of the screen announcing six speakers used in bass reflex to deliver a quality service without using an external audio system. They are also supported by one DSP “Virtual Dolby Surround” supposed to give the impression that one is in the center of a true home theater installation with surround speakers.

At the back of the unit, there is a horizontal hatch under a particularly rich connections that will please videophiles looking for quality. Indeed, in addition to conventional inputs (two RGB SCART, s-video, composite and a Sub-D15 grip to a computer), there is a YUV component input that accepts progressive signals with high DVD drive range, but also, and it is still too rare, DVI with HDCP input. This is an input for receiving the video signal directly in digital without passing through analog conversion, as is the case with conventional inputs. Only a few DVD players have for the moment this type of connection, usually in the form of an HDMI (in this case, it will use an adapter which is easily found in today’s specialized cable ships ) but you can bet safe to say that this type of connection is made to generalize quickly. Another clarification: the Thomson offers automatic signal detection that provides the user having to sweep the auxiliary inputs active when a DVD player or external decoder.

An image that lacks contrast

If the Thomson user interface is fun to use on a daily basis, we regret that the menus are not a bit more comprehensive for those looking for something other than the basic features. We salute against by the friendliness of the small remote control that provides access to all essential functions without having to delve into the menus and the wall bracket supplied as standard in addition to the table leg.

To be honest, we expected better from this Thomson TV. In absolute terms, the picture is not really bad, but it is penalized by two faults that seem insurmountable, considering the price of the device. First, we had speculated before even turning it on, just reflections on the screen that spoils much of the yet very suitable brightness of the unit. Once one is in a rather dark environment, the Thomson tile turns into a mirror reflecting nearly everything is within reach. It is particularly troublesome that the second major flaw stems from the low dynamic contrasts offered by the 30CLDB03B. Despite the claims of the manufacturer, the image is singularly lacking in discernment in dark scenes where we sometimes difficult to differentiate between the main subject and backgrounds that are embedded in a dark mass legibility. That is a pity that the device offers a relatively neutral color balance and quality digital processing on fast movements. The image is fluid and relaxed if not very precise and we appreciate his consistency, as long as it does not touch the contour setting that accentuates rasterization, without really improving the intrinsic definition of the image . With the DVI digital input, the results back up a notch in all areas, but unfortunately this type of signal is not yet available at the output of a satellite or cable tuner and it will therefore not enjoy it on a conventional television broadcast.

If the Thomson was a little disappointed, we show just as surprised by the poor quality of the TV speakers. Despite efforts by the manufacturer, it will systematically raise the sound level for good intelligibility of the dialogues or music from a film. The Virtual Dolby Surround option does not really help matters, and it is in stereo that you will get the best results both on a TV show on DVD.