I’ve been waiting a long time to review Syntax-Brillian’s Olevia 747i LCD flat panel. Why, you might ask? It’s the first consumer TV to incorporate the Silicon Optix Realta HQV videoprocessing chip, which is based on the Teranex processing technology used in professional broadcasting.
You’ve probably never heard of Teranex, but anyone in the broadcast industry certainly has, and they generally revere the brand as a provider of the best video processing available. Silicon Optix has taken the technology from a $60,000 Teranex processor and distilled it down to a chip that manufacturers can use in consumer products such as the $3999 747i, bringing the benefits of improved picture quality to a much broader audience.
Of course, the 747i’s most notable feature is the Realta HQV processor, which provides some of the best deinterlacing, scaling, and noise reduction available today. (Deinterlacing combines two interlaced “fields” into one complete frame of picture information; if it’s not done well, all sorts of jaggies and other distracting anomalies can appear. Scaling resizes the picture to fit the screen, which can soften the picture if it’s done poorly.) I’ve seen many demos of this technology over the last couple of years, and the Realta really does a spectacular job.
Another very cool “feature” is how good the 747i’s picture is right out of the box. Unlike virtually all other TV makers, Syntax-Brillian is more concerned with image fidelity than hitting viewers over the head with a picture that’s way too bright and too blue (which, by the way, is done to make the TV stand out in well-lit retail showrooms). Key parameters—color, grayscale, black and white levels—are carefully adjusted before the set leaves the factory to ensure an accurate picture instead of 51 February 2007 The Perfect Vision the exaggerated one seen from most TVs when they come out of the box. Bravo, Syntax-Brillian, for bucking the trend.
A TV with 1920x1080 resolution really needs the ability to map each pixel in a 1080i or 1080p signal to the corresponding pixel in the display to ensure the best possible picture, and the 747i doesn’t disappoint in this regard. Without this feature, technically known as “1:1 mode” or “overscan off,” the picture can look less crisply detailed and exhibit uneven edges, and some picture information is lost at the boundaries of the screen.
The supplied universal remote is illuminated and can control up to seven devices other than the TV. Most of the buttons at the bottom are too small for large fingers, and their labels are printed on the remote body, so you can’t see them even with the backlight on. And, instead of dedicated input buttons, there’s a Source button that cycles through the inputs. All in all, I found this remote a little difficult to use, though it’s not the worst I’ve seen by any means.
The menu system is not among my favorites—it’s a little too clever for its own good. A graphic on the screen resembles a several-sided, barrel-like object that “rotates” in response to the cursor up/ down buttons, bringing different “sides” into view that represent different main menus (Picture, Audio, Setup, etc.). Pressing the Enter button displays another rotating barrel with items in the selected menu, some of which have a third level of rotating barrels. In all cases, you can see only one item at a time. On the whole, I found this menu system to be very confusing.
Another issue is that the picture settings don’t have numerical values, only bar graphs. According to Syntax-Brillian, Sony holds a patent on including numbers along with bar graphs in this situation, and companies that choose to include both must pay a royalty to Sony. Syntax-Brillian decided to skip the numbers rather than fork over the dough and pass on the cost to buyers.
On the plus side, these bar graphs appear at the bottom of the screen and the barrels disappear, allowing you to see most of the onscreen image when making adjustments. To compensate for the lack of numerical values, the current setting is indicated with an arrow, so you can return to it during an adjustment. Once you establish a new setting, however, the arrow resets to that location the next time you access the control, limiting the usefulness of this approach.
Finally, I was puzzled by how on/ off parameters are indicated in the menus. If a parameter is on, the border around the parameter’s icon is orange; if it’s off, the border is green. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always associated green with on/go/active.
Thanks to its unusually judicious factory settings, the 747i looked great out of the box, requiring far fewer adjustments than just about any other set I’ve reviewed. Peak white level was impressive, but the black level was much higher than I’d like (though a bit lower than the Olevia 532H reviewed in issue 71). Color and grayscale were very close to accurate out of the box, a refreshing change of pace.