I was dismayed to discover that the Pixelworks DNX video processor did not perform the 3:2 pulldown correction necessary to cleanly render filmsourced material. This was plainly evident on test patterns as well as real program material. For example, the difficult opening sequence of Star Trek: Insurrection showed definite artifacts on some of the pastoral village’s diagonal roof lines.
When we asked Pixelworks about this, they flew A.C. Verbeck, direstor of Systems Engineering, to TPV’s new video lab with another sample of the set, which locked onto 3:2 material very quickly and reliably on all clips played. After looking at the firmware version numbers of the two sets, we discovered that the original sample had later firmware than the one Verbeck had brought with him; in fact, the later version had not been implemented by Pixelworks, but by Humax, a Korean company retained by Dell to design the entire circuit board.
According to Dell, the lack of 3:2 pulldown was an isolated anomaly in the review sample we received, and all currently shipping units have 3:2 pulldown enabled. Unfortunately, we were unable to verify this before press time.
Although the Dell’s color is not perfect from a technical standpoint (which is typical of LCD and plasma displays), it does look subjectively excellent. The overall color balance is pleasingly natural, with excellent skin tones and well-saturated but not overly hyped greens.
The set’s four color temperature settings include Red (5700K), Blue (9300K), Normal (6500K), and Natural (“the native panel temperature”). Normal looks the best out of the box, and our measurements indicate that it is quite linear and comes very close to the D65 standard. Although we were able to bring the color temperature slightly closer using the controls in the hidden service menu, the net improvement wasn’t significant. Just select the Normal color temperature and you’re good to go.
I never saw any sign of motion lag or ghost trails that so often plague LCD flat panels. The panel’s response time is rated at 16ms, which is only fair to middlin’ by today’s standards, but Pixelworks measured the response time at about 10ms, which is much better than the rated performance.
In day-to-day use, the W3706MC delivered an enjoyable and very watchable picture, with plenty of detail, an unusually low noise level, and excellent color. In particular, this set did an exceptionally good job of reproducing plain old analog video signals. The blacks were lackluster, to be sure, but the set’s extreme light output seemed to compensate for this somewhat. Except for the lack of shadow detail and the mysterious 3:2 pulldown problem I observed in the original sample, DVDs and HDTV sources looked excellent.
Assuming the lack of 3:2 pulldown in the original test sample is a one-time anomaly as Dell claims, the W3706MC is a solid performer and a good value. If you do decide to buy a W3706MC, be sure to check Dell’s Web site frequently, as new promotional offers come and go at Internet speed. TPV