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Home Product Reviews Other Electronics Protron - Spectron IQ 37" LCD TV with ATSC Tuner

21

May

2006

Protron - Spectron IQ 37" LCD TV with ATSC Tuner E-mail
User Rating: / 57
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Other Electronics
Written by Gray R.   

Protron (Spectron IQ)/SpectronIQ 37" HDTV LCD TV with Built in HDTV Tuner (ATSC)
www.ShopNBC.com and ShopNBC on TV
Price: Around 1899.99 depending on current deal/special

Updated Note from the Editor:
Protron has recently changed their name to SpectronIQ. The product and this TV is the same and being sold under its new brand name SpectronIQ. Our review has been updated according to the change with the new name placed in the review along with the previous name, Protron, for reference.

Over the past few months, the review we did on the Protron (Spectron IQ) 37? LCD TV from ShopNBC has gained quite a bit of interest. It has become the most viewed review on our site, and has hopefully helped many people in their decision on which TV to buy. With this success, when we saw that ShopNBC had come out with a new model of the 37? LCD TV, the 37" LCD TV with ATSC Tuner, we knew we had to take a look at it and tell all our viewers what it?s all about!

After ordering the Protron (Spectron IQ) 37? LCD TV with built in ATSC Tuner, we received it in the same box the other 37? Protron (Spectron IQ) came in. At first glance, even after unpacking, it looks the same as the previous 37? Protron (Spectron IQ) LCD. For those of you who have not taken a look at our other review though, lets take a look at the packaging that the Protron (Spectron IQ) comes in.

First there is a plain brown box that the TV comes in for shipping. It has no graphics or information, it is purely to protect the inside box and TV. Inside the outside box you will find the graphical box. This has all the specifications on it, plus a nice picture of the TV. Note that this box is directly inside the plain brown box, it fits perfectly inside of it.


(Picture of Graphical Inside Box, *Note this is a picture of the previous 37" LCD TV's box so some of the specifications on the box are NOT for the TV we are looking at right now, but besides the specifications the boxes look pretty much the same*)

Once you open the box, you will find the TV itself protected very well by two large foam pieces. Personally I feel the packaging is very good on this TV and it should have no problems withstanding the wear and tear of shipping and handling. On the side you will also find a cardboard box which has all the accessories, cables, remote, instructions, etc.

Here is a breakdown of the Specifications from ShopNBC:

Features and Specs:

  • 16:9 aspect ratio for a truer cinematic experience
  • 1366 x 768 native resolution provides a bright display and sharp colors
  • 1200:1 dynamic contrast ratio for more lifelike colors
  • Brightness: 550 cd/m
  • Built-in HDTV tuner
  • 181 channels dual ATSC + NTSC tuner
  • Viewing angle: 170 degrees
  • Picture-in-picture support, so you can watch a show while playing a video game or watching a DVD/VHS
  • Display color: 16.7 million colors
  • Two 10W built-in speakers
  • Power consumption: 232W
  • Wall mountable: VESA compliant: 200mm x 100mm
  • Plug and Play: VESA DDC 1/2B 3
  • Frequency/GHZ: H 30-80KHz, V50-75KHz
    Inputs:
  • One PC terminal: D-sub 15 Pins
  • Three RCA composite video jacks
  • One S-video jack
  • Two component video jacks, supports YPbPr
  • One HDMI input
  • One RS232
  • Six (L&R) RCA composite audio jacks
  • One PC audio jack
    Outputs:
  • One (L&R) RCA composite audio jack
  • One RCA composite video jack
  • One headphone jack
  • One subwoofer RCA audio jack
  • Includes IR sensor remote control and user manual
    Dimensions:
  • Dimensions without stand: 37.4" wide x 27.5" tall x 5.5" deep
  • Dimensions with stand: 37.4" wide x 30" tall x 10.5" deep
  • Weight: 58 lbs

Overall the specifications are very comparable to other LCD TVs in the market today. There also are some things worth noting on this 37" ATSC Protron (Spectron IQ) vs. the previous 37" Protron and other LCD TVs. This version includes not only a standard TV Tuner, but also an ATSC TV Tuner. What this means for you is that you can most likely1 plug in your antenna and receive HD (High Definition) broadcasts of your local channels2 . You do not even have to pay for this service or have some installer come out and set it up for you! The ATSC Tuner lets you pickup free HDTV Channels in your area3 at no cost (just like regular broadcast channels are no cost to you). Many TVs today are HDTV (so you can get HD if you buy HD Satellite, Cable, etc.), but only a select few have the ATSC tuner which lets you receive your Local Channels in HD for free!

Note1: Most existing Antennas used for normal broadcast TV will work for HDTV, but some may need to be upgraded.
Note2: Local channels that support HDTV will depend on what is available in your area.
Note3: To get an idea of the HDTV channels in your area, check out this site http://www.hdtvpub.com/local/

Comparing to the previous 37" Protron (Spectron IQ) LCD, the other main difference is that this TV includes an HDMI input instead of DVI (which the other 37" LCD has). Both of these inputs are HD, but it depends on the input device (DVD Player, Satellite Receiver, etc.) on what it uses. HDMI is becoming a bit more common today, so the switch is a welcome addition (if you do have the previous model, there are simple cables that go from HDMI to DVI, so you will not be missing out on anything).

Looking at the other specifications, there are quite a lot of inputs that will allow you to plug in pretty much anything (it has all the major inputs of today's electronics). I am also quite fond of the input on the side of the TV that allows you to easily attach things like Video Cameras and Game Systems that you might not always want to have attached to the TV. Plus it has audio outs so you can plug the TV easily into your stereo. Another neat feature that not all TVs have is a RCA Video out so you can hook the TV to your VCR and record whatever is being shown on the TV (makes it easy to record shows and other items without having to run all your video through your VCR).

As with the previous 37" Protron (Spectron IQ) LCD, the 37" ATSC Protron (Spectron IQ) comes with everything you need to start watching TV right out of the box. This makes setup extremely easy and you should have no problem getting up and running very quickly. They even include the batteries for the remote!

Once everything is unpacked, we can start to setup the TV. First off we need to plug the TV into the power outlet. On the backside toward the bottom is a port to plug in the power cord. The other end of the power cable is a 3 prong power plug (one nice thing with this LCD over other LCDs is that there is no power brick on the cord, it is just the cord). Now we can start plugging in your audio/video equipment. As everyone's setup is different, this TV gives you a wide range of input options so you can use it with just about any kind and number of equipment items you want to plug into your TV. Most of the inputs are on the back side of the TV in a indentation where you will find:

  • 3x Composite inputs (with 3x Stereo Audio Composite inputs)
  • S-Video input (with Stereo Audio Composite In)
  • Progressive Scan Component Input (with Stereo Audio Composite In)
  • Interlaced Component Input (with Stereo Audio Composite In)
  • Digital (Optical) Audio Output
  • Composite Video Output
  • Composite Audio Output

I am also quite fond of the input on the right side of the TV that allows you to easily attach things like Video Cameras and Game Systems that you might not always want to have attached to the TV and that you would plug and unplug often. This input is not visible from the front though, so you will not have to worry about them looking bad on the front of the TV.

Finally, on the bottom of the back near the Power Input, there are HDMI and PC VGA inputs. There also is a PC Audio Input, Standard Antenna Input, and ATSC Antenna Input. The Standard Antenna Input will work just like every other Antenna input on other TVs you have owned, but the ATSC input will be what is used to receive HD broadcasts as talked about earlier. It is very nice that they include both as if HD is not available in your area, you can still receive normal broadcast TV via the Standard Antenna!

I found that there was a wealth of inputs and really no one should have any problems connecting any of their equipment to this TV.

Now that we have the TV setup, we can start enjoying it. Using the included remote we can switch between inputs, type in channel numbers, change the volume, and do all the other standard functions. The remote has a good layout and fits nicely in your hand. The only thing I could see improved would be to make the remote universal so you can program it with other devices (such as a DVD player) and control your other devices with it. This was something I had hoped they would have added to the remote on the 37" ATSC Protron (Spectron IQ) LCD, but it still has not been added. There has been a modification to the look of the remote though, here you can see the difference between the previous 37" Protron (Spectron IQ) LCD and the 37" ATSC Protron (Spectron IQ) LCD:

(Previous Remote) (37" ATSC Protron (Spectron IQ) LCD Remote)

The remote on the 37" ATSC Protron (Spectron IQ) LCD Protron (Spectron IQ) really has the same features and buttons as the previous version, just it is rearranged a bit and in a more traditional style. For example, instead of having the Channel up/down and Volume up/down in the circular selector like on the previous remote, they are in a more conventional rectangular shaped button (the green and blue buttons) in the middle of the remote. There also is a 4 way d-pad which is used for the new HD ATSC  electronic programming guide .

That brings us to talking about, you guessed it, the HD ATSC electronic programming guide (EPG). One of the other neat features that you are able to use when viewing HD Broadcast TV through the ATSC tuner is that you will also be able to use a program guide. This is similar to the guides on Satellite and Digital Cable systems and lets you see what is coming up and easily browse through the channels with the ability to see the show name and a bit of info about the show (for some shows/channels). Amazingly, the guide is built right into the TV and works for most HD Stations (on the ATSC tuner). You are able to bring the guide up whenever you like while watching TV on the HD Tuner (DTV) by pressing the EPG button on the remote. You can then navigate through the guide with the 4 way d-pad on the bottom of the remote. Here are some screen shots of the guide and the display (press the "Display" button on remote) you can bring up to see show info:


(EPG (Electronic Program Guide) turned on, notice the live preview of the channel in the lower left corner, plus the upcoming shows for the current channel in the list)


(the display that you can bring up while watching HD TV, it shows you info about the current show (some info may not show up depending on the provider))


(this picture explains the different parts of the display when watching HD TV (some info may not show up depending on the provider))


(a view of another channel with the the display brought up)

Now on to what you have all probably been waiting for, how good is this TVs picture! I have seen many TVs in my day, and I must say that this TVs picture is unbelievable. It is right up there with the Sony and Panasonic LCDs that are on the market, and blows away most of the other cheaper LCDs that you see in stores.

Even though other LCD TVs may claim to be HD quality, they still can provide a not so desirable picture, but that is completely not true with the Protron (Spectron IQ) LCD TVs. They provide an unbelievable picture that really has to be seen to be believed. For testing I had the Protron (Spectron IQ) right next to a 32" Conventional True Flat Tube TV. Both TVs were feed by the same source (a Satellite Receiver) and the LCD blew the conventional tube TV out of the water (you can see the two in the picture below, the tube TV is on top, Note that it is hard to see the true difference in a picture, but I try to give you at least an idea of the difference). In using a HD source (such as the ATSC tuner to watch local broadcast in HD), the picture quality goes up dramatically and it is almost like looking out the window of your house, it is truly perfect. Using a HD DVD Player, DVD movies come alive and you notice details that were never visible before. From the remote you can also select whether you want a widescreen (16:9) or standard (4:3) picture. If you select standard, there will be black bars on either side of the screen, but the picture will not be stretched (if it is not a widescreen image). If it is a widescreen image, or you want to fill the whole screen, you can use the widescreen mode. In widescreen mode the picture will be stretched if the image is in standard format. The 37" ATSC Protron (Spectron IQ) LCD really has the same picture quality as the previous 37" Protron (Spectron IQ) LCD. This is a great thing though as the previous 37" was absolutely fabulous! Do note that when using the ATSC HD Tuner, some stations may look better than others as some stations have better quality programming than others.


(Panasonic Tube TV on top, previous 37" Protron (Spectron IQ) LCD on bottom *the previous and current 37" Protron (Spectron IQ) LCDs really have the same picture quality*)

Another amazing feature on this TV is the Picture In Picture. So you are thinking, yes, its neat, I have seen it in action before, BUT have you ever seen it on a widescreen TV? On this TV you can have two video sources displayed that are just about the same dimensions as two conventional TVs sitting next to each other. It is a neat feature to see two full screens right next to each other instead of just having the small box in the corner. Of course you can still put the small box in the corner, but also available on this TV is the option to relocate the PIP box anywhere you want on the screen. This is easily done, plus makes it so you are more in control of your TV experience. And for those of you that do not have a second source like a DVD player, Cable receiver, or Satellite receiver, you can now enjoy Picture In Picture as well since you can plug your antenna into both the ATSC and Standard Tuners (easiest is to use a splitter to split the antenna cable to go to both tuners) and then you can do Picture In Picture between the two tuners (so you could have say Channel 9 on one side and then Channel 11 on the other side!).


(the side by side Picture in Picture (PIP) turned on)


(the small box Picture and Picture turned on (note you can relocate the small box to any of the 4 corners or center))

So, we have gone over the great features, picture quality, and HD compatibility, but you may be wondering what is so great about these LCD TVs that you keep hearing about. Well, LCD TVs have the best picture in the TV world, plus have a long lifetime combined with a picture quality that will not fade over time. The biggest feature that LCD TVs bring in my opinion though is their small size. Unlike conventional TVs that have a large depth and weigh a lot (many times hundreds of pounds), this LCD TV is less than 6" wide (including the stand it is 10" as the stand sticks out a bit on the front and back) plus weighs in at around 60 pounds. That makes it more portable, easier to place, and much less bulky to have around. Another neat feature about this small form factor is that this TV can be mounted with a wall mount. This TV features the standard VESA mount on the back that you can attach universal wall mounts to. You can find the wall mounts at ShopNBC also.

The design of the TV is very sleek and good looking. Most of the TV is silver with a black frame around the screen. Also in the front on the bottom there are the two speakers which blend in perfectly as they are also silver and molded into the frame of the TV. In the middle on the bottom there is a small black rectangle that contains the IR sensor for the remote and a green LED light to show when the TV is on. On the top of the TV you will find a button bar with the power button, volume up/down, channel up/down, menu, and source buttons.

(button bar on top of TV)

Overall I felt this was one amazing TV for the price. Even though it is not a name brand like Sony or Panasonic, it performs just as well, if not better than the name brands. It is definitely not one of those cheap no name electronics that will provide sub par quality. You also receive everything you need to get started, plus all the inputs you could ever need on a TV, all packed into one sleek, beautiful looking product. The ATSC version also brings some nice additions over the previous model with the main one being the ability to receive local channels in HD for free from your antenna!

Pros

  • Awesome Picture Quality
  • Sleek Look
  • Tons of inputs
  • Ready for HD broadcast TV out of the box (ATSC)
  • Includes everything you need to get up and running
  • Price

Cons:

  • Remote still not universal so you can control other items with it
  • Would be nice to have a handle for transport

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About the author - Gray R.

Our owner and founder, Gray, started Tech Islands in 2005 to help pursue his interest of Pocket PC News and Reviews.


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