Zenith’s new line of LCD televisions are available in several sizes ranging from their small 13-inch 4:3 EDTV all the way up to their 30-inch 16:9 HDTV. And with 16 different models to choose from, you are sure to find an LCD that you like. Priced around $699 Zenith’s Z20LA7R is a 20-inch EDTV LCD television that uses the new Super-IPS LCD panel technology to maximize viewing angle performance and image quality.
The LCD market is on fire lately and there are more manufacturers and models to choose from than ever before. Is the Z20LA7R compelling enough to grab your attention, or will it be lost in the sea of LCD displays?
Features and Design
Several of Zenith’s new LCD televisions including the Z20LA7R, use LCD panels developed by LG.Philips that use Super IPS technology. Super-IPS stands for Super In-Plane Switching and was co-developed by LG.Philips, Philips Consumer Electronics, Hitachi and Zenith. Super-IPS works by using a switching mode that keeps all of the molecules in the display plane at all times so that when light passes through the display the picture brightness, contrast and color are accurate regardless of the viewing angle. Super-IPS LCD panels may not have a maximum contrast ratio that is as high as traditional LCD panels, but the overall viewing angle performance is much better. Another downside to a LCD panel using Super-IPS technology is that the response time is typically slower than LCD panels using a TN or VA mode technology. The Z20LA7R has a 20-inch, 4:3 aspect ratio display with a 400:1 contrast ratio and a 25MS response time. For complete specifications, please click on the specification tab and link located above and below this review.
Cosmetically, the Z20LA7R is probably one of the better looking LCD televisions we have seen lately. The television is very flat measuring 23.2″ wide by 16.2″ tall and only 2.8″ deep. And since the Z20LA7R only weighs 22Lbs, it is extremely easy to move. Housed in a silver case, the Z20LA7R has a shiny chrome strip that helps to enhance the televisions look. There are no buttons that are visible from the front of the television, only the remote control sensor, presenting a television that has very clean lines and a high quality look and feel. A plastic panel on the back of the television acts as a cable management system hiding the cables from being viewable. You can either use the provided stand or you can use a VESA compatible bracket to mount the Z20LA7R on the wall.
Image courtesy of Zenith
Usually the most overlooked part of the television is the remote control. We have seen immaculate plasma TVs costing thousands of dollars but come with ugly and nonfunctional remote controls. Zenith has done a great job in making sure that the remote that comes with the Z20LA7R looks as good as the television itself. The remote is very slim and has a very modern, hip look to it. The buttons on the remote are well laid out and the controls are very intuitive to use. Keep in mind that this is an EDTV LCD with budget conscious users in mind, so there are not a whole lot of advanced features, and thus very few buttons to use.
Feature-wise, like we have mentioned, the Z20LA7R is as basic as it gets. There are a total of five inputs to choose from: Component Video which is capable of receiving 480i/480P signals (EDTV broadcasts), S-Video, Composite Video, Analog VGA (non-usable) and Coaxial inputs. The Z20LA7R comes with an integrated NTSC tuner so it will be able to natively support the basic cable or over-the-air broadcasts. If you plan on using satellite or digital cable with the Z20LA7R, than you will want to use the S-Video input for the best possible picture quality.
You can control the Z20LA7R by either using the remote control or the controls on the TV itself. Hidden behind the right hand speaker there are Channel, Volume, Menu, Enter, TV/Video selection, Power buttons. The remote control has the same buttons but adds the Mute, Channel Recall, Sleep Time, and Closed Captioning controls.
The Z20LA7R comes with a remote control including batteries, manual, and A/C power cable. We were disappointed to see Zenith decide not to include any PC or video/audio cables; you are forced to buy those separately. The Z20LA7R comes with a one year parts and labor warranty.
Setup and Testing
The Z20LA7R comes with a single manual that covers two models, the Z20LA7R and the Z15LA7R which is the 15-inch version of this television. We noticed that the Zenith includes cables with the Z15LA7R but doesn’t include them with the 20-inch model so they must be trying to save their profit margin; either way it’s a blow to the consumer. The manual is very easy to read and provides detailed instructions on how to hook the Z20LA7R up to an indoor/outdoor antenna, external set top box and other peripherals such as camcorders and video game systems.
The component video input is the best input to use when hooking up a progressive scan DVD player or satellite feed. Most LCD televisions we have seen come with a DVI input, but the Z20LA7R only comes with an analog VGA jack which is only used for servicing the television rendering it useless for the user. If you get the upgraded HDTV version of this television or the 15-inch model, than you will be able to use the LCD as a monitor for your PC.
Menu navigation is easy to use and is small enough where you can make changes to the color, brightness and contrast settings without the menu covering up too much of the picture in the process. The integrated NTSC tuner works well and recognized all of the channels from our cable company.
We used a Pioneer DV-563A progressive scan DVD player and Dish Network Satellite service for our tests. Picture quality on the Z20LA7R is very good, but only when using a high quality feed like digital cable, satellite or a DVD player. When watching an analog broadcast such as an over-the-air or basic cable feed, the Z20LA7R is prone to showing a lot of artifacts, but this is typical of all LCD displays. The further away from the LCD you are, the better the picture will look. You can definitely tell that the Z20LA7R is using Super-IPS technology since the viewing angle is improved compared to other LCD TV’s we have tested.
Color rendition, brightness and contrast look great but remember this is only a 20-inch television. Typically the larger the display is the more difficult it is to get an accurate color and contrast setting.
The Zenith Z20LA7R has a few appealing features, most noticeably its stylish looks, but unfortunately there are better LCD TVs to choose from for the price. Remember the Z20LA7R is strictly an EDTV set capable of a maximum resolution of 480P. So if you are planning on upgrading your television service to HDTV anytime in the near future you will either have to purchase a new television or settle for a non-HDTV broadcast when using the Z20LA7R.
If HDTV is not an issue for you, but you still prefer a good looking television, then the Z20LA7R might be worth looking into. There are several 20-inch LCD televisions on the market that are capable of both EDTV and HDTV signals that fall into the same price range as the Z20LA7R. Our recommendation would be to check out your local or online retailer to see what is available and spend the extra money on an HDTV set. Because the Z20LA7R uses an LCD panel developed by LG.Philips, you are sure to get similar picture quality from various other manufacturers that are using the same display as the Z20LA7R.
Zenith also leaves the customer hanging by leaving the appropriate cables out of the package, increasing the overall cost of the television not to mention adding another level of inconvenience.
– Very attractive looking television
– Remote control is simple and attractive
– Good picture quality
– Integrated NTSC tuner
– Only supports up to 480i/480P resolutions
– Does not come with component video or computer cables
– VGA input cannot be used with a computer
– The remote is not universal
– Not the best value