Humax DirecTV LCD TV
SPACE-SAVING SATELLITE TV
One of the main appeals of the flat panel LCD TVs is their space-saving qualities. A conventional 20-inch TV on a kitchen counter or desk will take up most of the available space, while a 20-inch LCD TV is only a couople of inches thick. If you want to add a satellite box to that, then you're back to the same problem - where to put it?
Humax thought to solve that problem by tucking the DirecTV tuner right into the TV. However, the satellite tuner is the only TV tuner in this unit so if you give up on DirecTV down the road, you can't just hook up an antenna or cable. You'll need an outboard tuner.
While the TV industry is barrelling toward high definition, the majority of TV content currently available is overwhelminigly still in standard definition. Knowing that, Humax designed this TV in standard 4:3 aspect ratio and NTSC 640 x 480 resolution. At 20-inches, this isn't destined to be a houshold's primary TV anyway; it'll likely go in bedrooms, dens, gyms and kitchens, where space for other stuff takes precedence.
The Humax is an attractive TV with a premium look to it. The buttons are mounted on top, out of view. The standard A/V inputs are in the back, but the component set is on the side, a design I assume was meant to accommodate sqeezing in the satellite tuner. There's also a set of A/V outputs on the back which allow you to send the TV signal to a second TV, but both will display the same channel. In addition to the satellite signal line, you'll also need to connect a phone line, and of course, the power cord.
Another benifit of this combo setup is you need one remote, rather than one for the TV and one for the tuner. The Humax remote is essentially a DirecTV remote, preprogrammed to control the Humax TV. DirecTV users will be familiar with the configuration of the buttons right away. One quirk is that it includes both an on and off button, not one that does both; it took me a little while to get used to this, as I found myself pressing the "on" button and wondering why the TV wouldn't turn off.
The TV's on-screen guide is standard issue DirecTV, so if you're already a direcTV user and Humax assumes buyers of this TV will be, then you'll be right at home with the workings of it. As a longtime DirecTV subscriber, I've always liked the guide layout, which provides just enough information at a glance for my needs. Channel switching is quick, and the guide displays the picture from the current channel while your're guide-surfing.
To access the TV's menu options, you need to set the remote in TV mode, rather thatn DirecTV mode (by sliding a switch on top of the remote). The menu's picture and audio controls are fairly standard with the expected suite of picture modes, color temperature and audio options.
The picture on this TV is superior to a lot of 20-inch LCD TVs. Wide viewing angles, dynamic colors and decent blacks and shadow detail make this a very worthy TV, even without the DirecTV feature. During a viewing of I Robot on HBO one evening, I was able to appreciate the details in the subdued, often dark landscape. The speakers got plenty loud enough for me, but tended to distort occasionally when the soundtrack got too intense for them. Overall, this is a good LCD TV and a good DirecTV tuner; the combination makes for a nice package. I wish Humax had built a DVR into it, as thats a category where the company really excels, but maybe next year.
By: Grant Clauser
E-GEAR July/August 2006