Just over a year ago we purchased a Westinghouse 47″ LCD HDTV (Model TX-47F430S) from Best Buy. This model is priced at the cheaper end of the spectrum, but it seemed to fit our requirements (reasonably good picture, reasonably cheap, from a trustworthy brand name).
The bottom line is that we love the picture and the features, but some of the fit, finish, and quality are lacking. We expected this because of the lower price, and are happy (so far) with the price-performance compromise.
First, the good things. The picture quality is excellent and sharp, and the highest resolution is 1080p, which is the highest HDTV standard resolution. I’ve heard rumors that Westinghouse has changed to a different LCD panel for this same model number for the new sets being produced, and that the new panel isn’t quite as bright and sharp, but don’t know that for certain.
The connections are also great. There are four HDMI connectors for HD content. There is a PC monitor port which allows you to drive it has a super-high-resolution PC/server monitor, and also takes the sound output from the PC as well (great for PC gaming). It has composite and component/S-video inputs as well. You can get more technical specifications here.
We have several things hooked up to our TV, as follows:
Regular definition cable TV via TiVo: We get regular cable TV programming through a cable box, which feeds our dual-tuner TiVo, which feeds into one of the component inputs of the TV. Movies that are broadcast in widescreen can be expanded to fill the entire screen and look really good (but not as good as true HDTV, of course).
HDTV via DirectTV: We also have DirectTV in order to get the NFL and other (selected) sports in HD. DirectTV only goes up to 1080i, which is interlaced and not quite 1080p, but is still super sharp looking.
Computer: We have a computer hooked up which we can use with a wireless keyboard/trackball, allowing us to display anything PC-based on our television in very sharp resolution.
Wii Console: The Wii console is connected via the component interface and looks good, but not great. This is a function of the Wii, however, not the television, as the Wii doesn’t support any native high-resolution formats nor HDTV, so it looks a little pixellated when scaled up on our 47″ TV, but still fun and playable.
Overall, the good is really good on this television. But unfortunately it’s not all good…
There have also been some annoyances with this set, as follows:
- The Closed-Captioning simply does not work. It gets a few of the words/text, but it’s very jumpy and misses random parts and just doesn’t work. We rarely used captions, but sometimes it’s nice to have the news on with the sound down and the captions up, so that you can still read what’s going on without the noise intrustion, or when watching a quiet movie that you don’t want to blast the sound way up. This is a nagging issue, but not bad enough for us to have tried returning the unit, and we didn’t discover until about 90 days in, meaning we couldn’t just go back to Best Buy and exchange it, we would have had to have done some kind of swap with Westinghouse, and would have almost certainly gotten a refurb unit to replace our brand-spanking-new one.
- The PC input doesn’t auto-center the input. When we switch to view our PC, the video is about 25% of the way moved to the left, leaving a fat wide black bar on the right. We can jump into the TV’s menu and hit “Auto Adjustment” under the PC options, and it quickly centers the picture properly. However, we have to do this EVERY SINGLE TIME WE SWITCH TO THE PC INPUT, which gets very annoying. Again, it’s annoying but fell into the category of “to be expected at this price” for us. Also, the audio input from the PC has a background buzz if you turn the sound up.
- The remote control doesn’t work well from 10 feet away. You have to be really close, like 7 feet, for it to work reliably. This tends to defeat the purpose of a big television that you sit back from to enjoy the splendiforous big picture. It’s even worse if you’re off to the side and not dead-on center when using the remote. Again, something to be expected on a cheaper television, but annoying.
- On the regular TV component input, the televison occasionally doesn’t sense that there is a sound channel input, and so sets the status as “no input detected” (or something like that) and won’t play the sound. We have to switch away from the TV input and then back to get it to recognize the input correctly. Annoying.
- The audio is two-channel stereo only, so no 5-channel surround experience.
Overall the not-so-good parts are more annoyances than anything else, and each of them individually could be expected for the low price. However, combined together they make us unsure if the annoyance was worth any cost savings. However, all these annoyances could be moot because we are now having a REAL problem…
Two weeks after our warranty expired (that’s right, two weeks), our television developed a bright green line of pixels down the left hand side, which shows on all inputs and even shows when the TV is powering up. I have been on the phone with Westinghouse and they have confirmed that it’s a repair issue, but only after first telling me that it was “pixel memory” and making me turn the TV off and unplug it for 24 hours. A bright green line is NOT pixel burn, but they wouldn’t proceed until I tried it. Now I’m going to have to fight with them to see if I can get a waiver to get this repaired for goodwill or something, since the it’s out of warranty. I don’t have high hopes. I’ll post the results back here when all is said and done.