Zenith Features & Connections
LCD TVs have been rapidly dropping in price for about two years now, all the while their feature sets and specifications improving with time. Zenith's models are no exception, with their latest units having street prices only wished for in previous seasons. The delay in bringing LCD TVs down to "mere mortal" levels has really resulted in a better crop of units that support features once reserved for only the high end units. DVI (or HDMI) with HDCP, satisfactory deinterlacing, such as that provided by Faroudja's DCDi engine, and brighter, faster displays are now the expected norm in today's market. Now, if only Zenith could shorten up its model number designations...
The Zenith Z26LZ5R ("Z26" for short from here on out) had a host of excellent features and functions that made it a tremendously configurable entry-level home theater projector as well as an adaptable one. Here are a few of my favorites that stood out on initial use and inspection:
- High Resolution
Setting 1280x768 pixels in a 26" TV results in a very fine mesh of detail that really put forth a clear image, particularly when displaying HDTV source content. From about 3x the screen distance away, watching the DiscoveryHD channel was like peering into the Serengeti.
- Faroudja DCDi Video
Without adequate video processing, what you have is a display with lots of pixels. DCDi allows this set to better scale and deinterlace input signals sent to it and achieve better than average picture quality.
- Multiple A/V
Support of DVI w/HDCP, along with two component video inputs (one for 480i signals only) make this a well-equipped display that can handle a multitude of source components - even without the presence of a video switching-capable receiver.
While I'll address each of these features in more detail, these three are indicative of a budget television that ensures it can be flexible as well as able to strive for good video quality.
You have some options when connecting to the Z26, including DVI (w/HDCP), composite video, 480i component video (side input), high definition compatible component video, antenna/cable (RF), or s-video (side input). Audio inputs are available as RCA stereo or 1/8" stereo mini from a PC.
We used all of the inputs in our testing and were able to have a single source (Denon's DVD-5900) supply DVI, component, s-video and composite video to the Z26 so we could switch between each and get a feel for the quality of its scaling and deinterlacing. I found it odd that there was not an s-video connection on the main back area of the unit. There are a lot of people that use this connection and having to plug a cable permanently into the side input area of the display risks the potential of breaking up the sleek lines of this set. Read our viewing results below for information on which inputs to avoid and which are recommended.