ViewSonic N3260W High Definition LCD TV

by | Jun 12, 2006 | Component Reviews | 0 comments

      ViewSonic N3260W High Definition LCD TV
SRP: $1300

Type:  32″ (31.5″ viewable) color TFT active matrix, wide LCD
Display Area:  27.5″ horizontal x 15.4″ vertical; 31.5″ diagonal
Native Resolution: 1366×768
Contrast Ratio: 800:1 (typ)
Viewing Angle: 170 degrees horizontal, 170 degrees vertical
Response Time: 8ms
Brightness: 500 cd/m2 (typ)
Light Source: Long life, 60,000 hrs. (typ)
Aspect Ratio:16:9
Glass Surface: Anti-glare, hard coating (3H)


PC: RGB analog (75 ohms, 0.7 Vp-p)
TV: TV/cable, composite (RCA), component YPbPr/YCbCr, S-video
Audio: 3.5mm mini stereo audio in/out and RCA (left/right) audio in
RGB Frequency: Fh: 30~64kHz, Fv: 60~75Hz
Sync: H/V separated (TTL)
Digital: HDMI (with HDCP and audio support)
Speakers: 2×10-watt SRS TruSurround XT
TV/Video Comp.: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i
PC: 1360×768 (preferred), 1024×768, 1280×768
Mac: Power Mac™ G3/G4/G5 up to 1280×1024, 1280×720 (preferred)
Analog: 15-pin mini D-sub (VGA)
Digital: HDMI
Power: 3-pin plug
Voltage: AC 90-240V (universal), 50/60Hz
Consumption: 190W (typ)
Physical (mm): 820mm x 650mm x 230mm (with stand)
Physical (in.): 32.28″ x 25.59″ x 9.06″ (with stand)
Temperature: -4-140?F (-20–60?C)
Humidity: 5-90% (non-condensing)
Net: 48.4 lb. (21.98 kg) (with stand)
Gross: 57.2 lb. (25.9 kg) (with stand)
LCD TV display, power cable, remote control with batteries, RCA A/V cable, Quick Start Guide, User Guide

ViewSonic Inc.
381 Brea Canyon Road
Walnut, CA 91789


ViewSonic (VS) has not received a big name in television manufacturing as of yet, but they have been making computer monitors since 1987. They are headquartered in Walnut Park, California. They have been making monitors with high definition resolution for over 10 years, and have won over 2000 awards internationally for their products. In 2006 they came up with the record fastest LCD response time of 4 milliseconds, and were producing LCD monitors long before standard TV manufacturers. I first saw a VS TV at Good Guys about two years ago. It was a 27 inch model, and I was amazed by the picture quality of the TV and its cost of below $1000; most LCDs were between $1600 and $3000 at the time. It had a lot more detail than the highly vaunted and more costly JVC at the time.

Prices on LCD TVs as well as all TVs are dropping sharply. I have been looking for a high quality LCD TV at a reasonable price for my bedroom. I chose a 32 inch size because I was replacing my standard definition 27 inch CRT TV in that room. Since I had gotten my HD DVR in my main system, I moved my old HD Direct TV receiver to my bedroom. I had to use the 480i output. If I watched HD TV on my bedroom set, the letterboxing made it the equivalent of watching a computer monitor from across the room. The 27 inch TV is still the best-selling size for regular TVs. To get the same picture height as regular 27 inch TV you need to go to a 32 inch widescreen TV. I have looked and compared TVs of this size for two years. The price of all TVs is dropping fast and 50 to 60 inch last year’s 720p projection TVs can go for under $2000. With the low cost of bigger sets this size of TV has a niche market. It is a TV for smaller rooms, where the residents do not want the room to be dominated by a TV, or don’t want to spend more than about $1100 street price.
I had waited for several months to get the latest model of the ViewSonic 32 inch LCD TV. When it arrived I found that I could transport it in my car with it boxed for shipping. I could also, with some effort move the box by myself. This would have not been remotely possible with my CRT TV. My CRT TV covered my whole dresser from front to back and hung out over the back. The VS only took up about one quarter of the depth of the dresser. The VS, at a little over 50 lbs., can be moved around by one person.


Setup was fairly easy using a HDMI cable from the satellite receiver to TV and a set of component video cables from the DVD player. One thing I found out was that HDMI cables are fairly costly. Most, even short runs, start at about $100. Many stores did not carry them and those who did carry them had only higher quality ones. If you are going to use HDMI you need to factor this into the cost of getting new TV. The set gives you 1-HDMI, 2 component video, and two-composite video or S Video inputs. Most of these are just behind the right side of the TV on the back about 6 inches from right edge. The thinness of the set makes getting to these inputs much easier than on a standard TV. The HDMI input and the power cord connection are in the middle of the back of the TV and a little harder to get to. Connection went forward fairly easily.

The manual controls are conveniently located on the right side of the TV. The set had picture adjustments for contrast, brightness, color, tint, sharpness, backlighting, and color temp. Using the factory settings the set looked fairly good. I did some minor adjustments and was ready to watch. I liked the black surround of the TV. It made the picture more isolated from the background behind the TV. I also liked the fact that the speakers were on the bottom of the set. This made the set take up less width on its supporting shelf. I was happy to see that they had added a second component video input that was not on the previous model. The set also had a sleep timer which is very useful for a bedroom set. The remote control was generic looking, but was fairly easy to use. The View Sonic does have DNX™ image processing technology. DNX image processing provides superior picture quality through precision deinterlacing, 10-bit color processing, advanced scaling and Pixelboost for smoother, sharper full-motion video with rich colors.


The N3260W produced a very good picture with a high definition TV source. Skin tones were very good and lifelike. Color saturation was a good as any TV I have seen. Detail was also of high quality. The picture in general was very lifelike and colors rendered were very realistic to nature. The VS – like all good displays – quickly shows the differences in quality of different HDTV broadcasts. After watching really good broadcasts, the picture quality of lesser broadcasts came across as disappointing. I found myself scanning the high definition channels for high-quality broadcasts which would show HD at its best. It was not always easy to find good broadcasts. To be seen at its best HD needs to have brightly-colored subjects that are well lit and have a lot of detail. Dark scenes reduce picture quality substantially. Most stores run loops of well-chosen video to show off their displays.

I have read that some of the cheaper sets produced great pictures with high definition stuff, but were not very good with standard definition material. I however found that this set produced as good a picture on these sources as did my XBR1. I then tried a couple reference DVDs. I was using only a non-progressive scan player, because I am waiting for the new Pioneer 720 upsampling DVD player with HDMI. The picture on the Sony Superbit disc of the Fifth Element looked very detailed and very similar to what I see on my Sony XBR1 reference set. The DVD of Once Upon a Time in the West also looked very good. In fact it was one of the best background detail and sense of depth that I have seen. One of the best attributes of this set is its ability to produce a strong sense of depth in its picture. The one problem with this size screen is that even with a widescreen, the extra-wide letterboxing of some movies makes the picture seem small.

Having just watched the Peter, Paul and Mary Special on PBS, I put on the DVD of the program and found the DVD picture to be very close to the 720p upsampled picture from  the DTV program that was mastered from Hi-Def. The one Achilles heel of most LCD TVs is that of black level. The ViewSonic is no different. It does not have the blackest blacks. I however did not find this a maor problem in my viewing. Black letters were black. Black clothes were black. Black cars were black. The only time I noticed it was on Star Gaze II. The black background of the stars was not as black as the XBR1. The XBR1 is however a $5000 60 inch 1080p TV with a lot of video processing and Auto Iris.

I went around to various stores that carry ViewSonic, to compare them with other 32-inch sets. One had the set in line with four different Sony LCD displays. The VS had as good or better detail than any of the Sony sets. It had better sense of depth than any of the Sony sets. Only the $2300 XBR Sony had an appreciably better black than the VS. I looked at the sets in the same price range as the VS and found them to be lacking. I also looked at sets from JVC, Samsung, Toshiba and Panasonic. They start at about $500 more than the VS. On close examination and A/B viewing, I could see slight differences between the sets. I could not definitely rule out how much of the differences were caused by adjustments of the TVs. Only the Samsung and Panasonic seemed to produce more detail, probably because of their much higher contrast ratios. I found the sound quality of the VS speakers to be fairly good for TV speakers. SRS TruSurround XT helped the sound out.


I should start off saying that I am both pleased and surprised by  this TV. It produces a very good picture on both regular and high definition sources. It has a high value content. Its price of $1300 is at least four hundred dollars less than sets that are as good or slightly better in performance, and it is more heavily discounted than the name brands. One outlet had it for $1099 with a $100 rebate taking the price down to under a thousand. If you plan on watching many letterboxed DVDs (wider than the 1.78:1 which fills 16:9 video screens) you might consider an even larger screen, unless you are viewing from only 5 or 6 feet away.

— Clay Swartz



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