Unexpectedly Dell has arguably gone slightly beyond the basic call of TV duty with its tuner support too, as the W3202MC sports a digital Freeview tuner as well as the de rigueur analogue one. And the TV even goes so far as to back this digital tuner up with both a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio output, and a CI slot you can use to add subscription channels to your core Freeview selection.
Switching the TV on introduces a really quite presentable set of onscreen menus – the sort of thing you’d certainly hope to see on a TV rather than a PC monitor. And initially it looks like these menus are impressively heavily populated by features as well. However, once you start looking at what’s on offer in more detail, it turns out that many of the ‘features’ are actually very trivial items not deserving of a mention here. In fact, really the only things that are worth highlighting are some picture in picture options, and support for the Freeview electronic programme guide listings system.
Even this latter feature is botched, though. For starters, unusually you can only call up listings for the channel you’re watching, as there’s no ‘compilation’ menu for presenting listings for multiple channels. Also, you can only move along the listings programme by programme, with the shortage of any means of skipping ahead by whole days at a time making the process of ‘surfing’ the listings to something seven days away tiresome in the extreme. Finally, the text for the information on each programme is crazily small, to the extent that even people with 20-20 vision will struggle to read it at times.
Before getting into how the W3202MC actually performs, it’s worth quickly looking at some of its key specifications. Its native resolution of 1,366 x 768 is fair enough, as is its claimed contrast ratio of 1000:1. Plus, to our surprise, its video processing is bolstered by the application of PixelWorks’ DNX scaling system. The only slight concern is the claimed brightness of 450cd/m2, which is a touch lower than normal.
After building our hopes up pretty high with some elements of its ‘front end’, Dell’s W3202MC sadly brings them crashing down around our ears with many aspects of its picture performance.