Edge enhancement is virtually nonexistent with HD inputs, so the picture can look a bit soft (some might say too soft) compared to a set with artificial sharpness added; the Brillian has no SHARPNESS control. Make no mistake though—the resolution is there, whether you use the DVI or HD component inputs. The focus test pattern on my Sencore VP403 signal generator has never looked sharper at 1080i, provided noise reduction was kept at its lowest value and the EXACT PIXEL mode was used. Still, most people would want a well-designed SHARPNESS control to add just a touch of “pop,” especially to low-rez programs coming in at HD scan rates.
All modern sets should have two digital-video inputs, either DVI or HDMI. The Brillian only has one, and it provides no COLOR and TINT controls. Ideally, these parameters should be perfect as broadcast, but in reality, you often need these controls. Oddly, the color was consistently oversaturated when BRIGHTNESS was too low, and there was no easy way to correct tint errors in some broadcasts. On this set, I’d use the component inputs for HD sources and save DVI for the DVD player or computer.
Black level was the weakest part of the 6580 in our measurements. It was about the same as the JVC HD- 52G786 720p LCoS set (see review in Issue 64) or the Sony KDF-55XS955 720p LCD RPTV (see review in Issue 59), but it was considerably worse than some of this year’s 1080p RPTVs that we’ve tested. Dark scenes simply look drab, washed out, and lacking in detail for a set this expensive, in spite of the fact that they’re remarkably free of ugly dark-scene posterization. For comparison, the Sony SXRD-based RPTV has black levels only 5 percent as high. To make matters worse, the “color” of black has a slight greenishblue tint—it isn’t a pure dark gray. Brillian needs to include an automatic iris to get those black levels down in dark scenes. This one weakness negatively affects the picture from all sources, which can otherwise look superb.
COMPONENT VIDEO 1 is a special input for 480i sources only. Using this input, Brillian’s deinterlacer/scaler did a remarkable job with the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark test disc, producing the fewest jaggies in the various torture tests of any display I’ve tested. Its 3:2 pulldown was also the fastest and best I’ve tested. The only problem I found was with the automatic 3:2 pulldown when the source wasn’t filmbased. Scrolling text had intermittent severe artifacts unless the feature was turned off. This input is a bit soft looking, but it may be the input you’ll want to use for your DVD player. (Interestingly, there is a SHARPNESS control for this input, but it didn’t seem to do anything.) Run the player in interlaced mode, not progressive. My reference player looked slightly sharper (with more artifacts) into the DVI input, but it was very close.
The 6580 has no CableCARD slot, and no onscreen program guide is included. You can still receive digital cable directly, but you won’t be able to get all the channels and features without the cable company’s set-top box.
Brillian’s high-end entry into the RPTV market is a commendable effort with many useful capabilities and features that cheaper competitors lack, though it’s missing a few important ones that many of them do have. It’s a videophile tweaker’s delight. In addition, Syntax-Brillian Corp. is a small American company that’s intent on giving their customers the full whiteglove treatment to ensure their product performs at its very best in each home. Few sets by other manufacturers perform at their best as delivered.
For showing multiple HD images at once or using the computer alongside HD, it probably has no equal. For custom installations, its flexibility is outstanding. Technically, it’s easily as good as any competitor out there, but the high black level hinders its ultimate picture quality. With bright programs like sporting events, you might rarely notice it, but for the best possible picture in a darkened home theater, there are better choices.