Proton LCD Features & Build Quality
It's no great secret that there have been a flood of LCD televisions hitting the market in the past year or so, and it can be terribly difficult to separate the "wheat from the chaff" unless you know what to look for. Proton's newest 37" LCD television presents a nicely "tweakable" set with a reasonable amount of user settings to dial in the television picture quality to respectable viewing levels.
Features and Favorites
The Proton sports some useful features and controls that, as indicated above, give it a leg up in configuring the set for use in the home and attaining acceptable color, brightness and contrast settings. There are also some helpful convenience features that make the Proton stand out in a lineup:
6-in-1 Memory Card Reader
While not unique to Proton, the inclusion of an easy-to-access multi-format memory card reader is a useful feature. Allowing the remote control to navigate, rotate, zoom and browse the cards in a slideshow format is icing on the cake.
User Adjustable Color Temperature Control
Many televisions allow users to select from preset color temperature options, but the Proton takes it a step further by giving users a control a slider to specifically dial in the temperature adjustment. This allows you to configure a lower color temperature for use, as an example, with black and white feature films.
Often overlooked, the option to completely remove the speakers nets you a reduced overall display footprint and makes for a much cleaner look if you intend to use your own speaker system and/or wall mount the display.
Granting access to a backlight control allows you to truly dial in the black (brightness) levels and make the LCD TV optimize its potential contrast ratio and overall performance.
Multiple PIP Modes
While many people disregard the use of picture-in-picture, I find that during football season it becomes extremely useful. The Proton gives you the standard fare (split screen, PIP with various locations and sizes, etc) but also adds a mode whereby the television can display a DVD on the left, for example, and also show a split screen with up to 3 channels that constantly cycle and update on the right.
Room Lighting Setting
This is really a sort of gamma control that allows you to select from four presets: factory, normal, bright, and movie. These presets essentially allow you to get a little more gain out of the set during daytime hours and then switch back to a more calibrated setting at night for movies. This isn't as good as the full ISF day/night settings feature, but it's a step in the right direction.
Delivery and Setup
To be absolutely safe, the Proton television is a two-person install, but LCD TVs are much easier to maneuver than their plasma and rear projection counterparts. For their size, flat panel LCD televisions weigh about 20-30% less than comparable plasma TVs and LCD rear projection units. In this case, the Proton is about 60 pounds, so it's no slouch either. The television came well-boxed, with plenty of protective packing materials and a plastic screen cover that kept the screen from getting scratched or damaged during transit. Unlike many sets I've seen, the Proton's stand comes pre-attached, so physical setup is a breeze - just lift it out and set it on a table or cabinet.
The inputs are easily accessible on the rear of the unit and full color labels show the location of all connectors. This television does not have an HDCP-equipped DVI input, so unless you have a non-HDCP DVD player, you'll be reserving that input for a PC. We connected source devices to the component video inputs which were also used during all of our display calibration tests and procedures.
A flip panel on the top of the set nets you quick access to the memory card reader as well as power, input, volume and menu functions. It took a matter of minutes for me to get the set physically connected and reading for initial setup.
Before you will be able to use the on-board NTSC tuner, you'll first need to go into the menu system and navigate to the "Settings" tab. Be certain that the television is on the "TV" source. Once in the "Settings" submenu, select "TV Tuner" and then ensure that you have the television correctly set to use either "antenna" or "cable" as the source. Selecting "autoset" at this point will initiate a fairly quick programming sequence whereby all available channels will be scanned and unavailable channels will be discarded (channels can then be manually added or subtracted later using "edit channels" if needed).