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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an HTPC with an ATI AIW Radeon 7500 card feeding a 27-inch NTSC TV. I use it (a) as a PC, (b) to watch DVDs, and (c) to timeshift NTSC TV. I'm really sick of the small, unclear NTSC TV I'm using as a display device, and I want something bigger and better. For various reasons I've decided on a 34-inch (or larger, but nothing seems available) 16:9 CRT display.


I first looked at HDTVs, and had pretty much chosen the Sony KV-34XBR800, but I am worried about compatibility with my ATI card's DVI output, overscan, and other issues associated with using a TV as a PC monitor that are discussed elsewhere on this forum.


Digging around here revealed to me that there's another alternative: a 16:9 PC monitor. After more research I've pretty much settled on the


CTX MS3600VF

Monivision DM7352SF

Princeton AR3.4FTW


Examining the mfr's Web sites & spec sheets leads me to believe that these three are all the same monitor, made by Chun Yun in Taiwan and rebadged by the various resellers. This unit is a "36-inch" 16:9 CRT PC monitor that has a VGA input and analog component inputs. No DVI.


Has anyone seen this unit in person? Better yet, does anyone own one? I've spent some time looking on the Web and can find no seller in my area (metro Atlanta). I'd really, really rather not have to mail-order this huge item, and have to risk $400 in round-trip shipping charges should I have to return it.


Why would I have to return it? Why wouldn't I like it? Well, for starters, how is the picture quality? Is the picture geometry good and "PC monitor like"? I assume it'll have no overscan and be nicely adjustable like other PC monitors.


How would DVD playback look on this monitor? Compared to the Sony 34XBR800 (which I think looks superb)? (I know there might be limitations caused by my PC's software DVD decoder, so let's assume I have the component output of my Sony DVD player hooked up to its component inputs.) How about contrast range, nice deep blacks, color temperature adjustability?


How will my Windows XP desktop be displayed? I assume the text quality will be much, much better than my 27-inch NTSC TV, and be very readable. But, will Windows "know" that a 16:9 monitor is attached, and will it format the display (not stretch a 4:3 display or present the 4:3 display with black sidebars) for 16:9? If Windows can format the display correctly, one way it could "know" to do so is via the ATI driver if I choose a 16:9 resolution setting. But the ATI Web site implies that my Radeon 7500 can't do 16:9 (even though 16:9 resolutions are in the list) and implies that I need a Radeon 9000 or better (because the specs for these specifically state "16:9" support). Am I confused yet?


Speaking of resolution, this monitor's specs list "RGB" (I assume they're talking about the VGA input here) resolution as "1024x768." But 1024x768 is 4:3! This doesn't make sense to me on a 16:9 monitor. Also, the spec'd scan rates are up to 52 kHz horizontal and 120 Hz vertical (refresh). So I assume I could set my video card's resolution to 1920x1080 (or 1280x768 which is almost 16:9) and this monitor would display it. Am I right?


And yet another thing: What about future Hollywood-mandated copyright protection (HDCP)? I suppose that by viewing DVDs (or future HD DVDs with some future PC hardware and/or software) on a PC, I may have options for viewing HDCP-encrypted DVDs without HDCP-compliant hardware (in other words, some kind of PC crack). Or someone may make an HDCP-compliant DVI-to-VGA converter? I don't know. Do you?


Whew! That's a lotta questions. But I have found virtually no information on doing this out there. I have searched this forum and haven't found anyone doing exactly what I want either. I don't mind being an early adopter, but I get nervous when I'm the first adopter! I hope I'm not.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Radiophile
I first looked at HDTVs, and had pretty much chosen the Sony KV-34XBR800, but I am worried about compatibility with my ATI card's DVI output, overscan, and other issues associated with using a TV as a PC monitor that are discussed elsewhere on this forum.
Yeah, your biggest issue will be with the Powerstrip software which will be required since regular HDTVs can't support normal computer resolutions

Quote:
Examining the mfr's Web sites & spec sheets leads me to believe that these three are all the same monitor, made by Chun Yun in Taiwan and rebadged by the various resellers.
You are correct. Monivision is a division of Albatron USA which is part of Chun Yun. They are OEMs for CTX and Princeton Graphics.


Quote:
Has anyone seen this unit in person? Better yet, does anyone own one?
I have seen posts by owners of the widescreen Monivision/CTX/PG. You need to search as far back as a year ago or two years ago for their postings on the widescreen monitors. I read their posts myself and their posting convinced me to get the 38" 4:3 DM7752ST.


Quote:


I've spent some time looking on the Web and can find no seller in my area (metro Atlanta). I'd really, really rather not have to mail-order this huge item, and have to risk $400 in round-trip shipping charges should I have to return it.
Due to excessive marketing hype by Sony, JVC, Panasonic, et al, pretty much everyone seems to think that you can't do better than the regular flat-screen HDTVs. Since almost everyone thinks regular HDTVs are superior in all aspects, there isn't much of a market for large-screen computer monitors. Since there isn't a market for these monitors, they are considered "boutique" products. These products are only available directly from the manufacturers and can be seen in computer shows and other special expos. Thank heavens I didn't fall for the marketing hype; otherwise, I would have bought myself a lemon that can't even work properly with my HTPC.


Quote:


Why would I have to return it? Why wouldn't I like it? Well, for starters, how is the picture quality?
1280x720 native resolution. Plug-and-play connectivity with a HTPC. Watch Terminator 2: Judgement Day on your HTPC in WM9 encoded native resolution at 1280x720.


Quote:
Is the picture geometry good and "PC monitor like"? I assume it'll have no overscan and be nicely adjustable like other PC monitors.
I can't comment on picture geometry on the widescreen monitors since I own the 4:3 DM7752ST. But I can comment on the other stuff. There is absolutely no overscan. It is exactly like any other PC monitors and has all the standard monitor controls (hsize, vsize, hposition, vposition, bow, pin cushion, trapezoid, contrast, brightness, etc, etc.). Bottom line: think of your standard 21" PC monitor and increase its size to 34" widescreen. That's what you will get.

Quote:


How would DVD playback look on this monitor? Compared to the Sony 34XBR800 (which I think looks superb)? (I know there might be limitations caused by my PC's software DVD decoder, so let's assume I have the component output of my Sony DVD player hooked up to its component inputs.) How about contrast range, nice deep blacks, color temperature adjustability?
I think you might want to ask that DVD question on the HTPC forum since the topic has been convered in that forum extensively already.


Quote:


How will my Windows XP desktop be displayed? I assume the text quality will be much, much better than my 27-inch NTSC TV, and be very readable.
I surf the web on my DM7752ST at 800x600 resolution about 7 feet away from the monitor. Nuff said.


Quote:


But, will Windows "know" that a 16:9 monitor is attached, and will it format the display (not stretch a 4:3 display or present the 4:3 display with black sidebars) for 16:9?
If your video card supports 1280x720 or some other widescreen resolution, then shift to that resolution and you'll get a 16:9 native picture.


Quote:


If Windows can format the display correctly, one way it could "know" to do so is via the ATI driver if I choose a 16:9 resolution setting. But the ATI Web site implies that my Radeon 7500 can't do 16:9 (even though 16:9 resolutions are in the list) and implies that I need a Radeon 9000 or better (because the specs for these specifically state "16:9" support). Am I confused yet?
I don't know about this "implying" business but if 16:9 resolutions are on the list, then you should be able to use these resolutions. I have no problem getting my 8500DV to display 1280x720 @ 60 hz on my DM7752ST. If you still have doubts, then you should ask this specific question on the HTPC forum.



Quote:


Speaking of resolution, this monitor's specs list "RGB" (I assume they're talking about the VGA input here) resolution as "1024x768." But 1024x768 is 4:3! This doesn't make sense to me on a 16:9 monitor.



Monivision's marketing department is not as slick or thorough like Sony's. Although it says a "max" resolution of 1024x768, that is max only for 4:3 resolutions. They forgot to mention on the brochures that Monivision is also capable of a max widescreen resolution of 1280x720 @ 60 hz. Don't worry, the Monivision will display at 1280x720 @ 60 hz when you tell your video card to output that resolution.



Quote:


Also, the spec'd scan rates are up to 52 kHz horizontal and 120 Hz vertical (refresh). So I assume I could set my video card's resolution to 1920x1080 (or 1280x768 which is almost 16:9) and this monitor would display it. Am I right?



The monitor will display 1280x720 @ 60 hz but 1920x1080 is not supported via the VGA input (to get that kind of resolution, you need a $20,000 monitor). 1080i is supported natively via the component inputs.


Quote:


And yet another thing: What about future Hollywood-mandated copyright protection (HDCP)? I suppose that by viewing DVDs (or future HD DVDs with some future PC hardware and/or software) on a PC, I may have options for viewing HDCP-encrypted DVDs without HDCP-compliant hardware (in other words, some kind of PC crack). Or someone may make an HDCP-compliant DVI-to-VGA converter? I don't know. Do you?



I have huge faith in the HTPC for the very reason that anything and everything can be cracked in the software arena. So I am not too worried about the HDCP, HDAV, HDSD, HDTS, HDGH, HDQE, HDAD, HDKJ, HDSD, HSDFWERWQ, HDSFSLDJFWLEJRWELJRK, HSDSDFLJSDLFJWLRJLGWLRGJW, HSDLFJWLERJLWEJRLWERJELW, or whatever encryption scheme Jack Valenti and his thugs will dream up next.


Quote:


Whew! That's a lotta questions. But I have found virtually no information on doing this out there. I have searched this forum and haven't found anyone doing exactly what I want either. I don't mind being an early adopter, but I get nervous when I'm the first adopter! I hope I'm not.
Maybe you shouldn't limit your search to this forum only. Try searching the term "Monivision" on ALL AVS forums and go back as far as one year back and you'll get a wealth of information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, kharvel, for taking the time to reply to my long post. Actually, I had done what you suggested (search on Monivision in all AVS forums) a week ago. But I did it again this morning to make sure I hadn't missed anything, and what a difference a week makes. I have gained so much knowledge about the various alternatives that all the threads had much more meaning this time around. My confidence in a Monivision choice is increased now, but maybe not enough. No one, apparently, has seen or owns the monitor I'm considering. Only two forum members (you and wegafan) seem to own a big-screen Monivision hooked to an HTPC. And someone (I think it was you again) said that the blacks were not as good as on an HDTV. Perhaps arising out of your comment, there is general concern here on AVS about black levels and gamma on PC monitors vs. TVs.


I've checked a few online retailers, and they won't accept returns on this monitor at all. The manufacturer's warranty would be my only recourse if there were problems. So I may not have to risk just $400 in round-trip shipping, but $2500 or so in total charges if I don't like the Monivision. I'm not sure I can do that.


I sent e-mails to Monivision, CTX and Princeton mentioning some of my concerns but emphasizing the "where can I see this unit in person?" question. I can only hope for useful responses.
 

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Radiophile,


I think I gave you the wrong info regarding the widescreen owners. I just remembered that the widescreen owners I saw in the past were owners of the widescreen Princeton Graphics monitors, not Monivision.


There are other 4:3 Monivision owners such as Accooe (sp?) and pdermody. These are the guys I PM'ed to inquire about the Monivision before making my purchase decision. I don't remember any widescreen Monivision owners but I do remember the widescreen Princeton Graphics owners during my search for a monitor. So you might want to do a search for Princeton Graphics.


It wouldn't hurt to ask unanswered questions about the Monivision on the HPTC forum because that's usually where most of the monitor owners hang around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
kharvel,


Yes, new formats like that are very exciting, and they're one of the reasons we both think HTPCs are the way to go. However, comments like this

Quote:
I have the monivision 7752, and have these comments for anyone who wants it, or the similar princeton, primarily for tv viewing. The definition and crispness of the hdtv and computer images are amazing; however, there is a BIG limitation in my set, at least. The color saturation and what i call vibrancy are VERY POOR for both hdtv and regular viewing. I have tried to tweak all brightness and color controls, with little effect.
from bmink50 in this thread are scary.
 

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Yep, I had read the same comments from bmink50 before making my Monivision purchase in January of this year.


After reading the comments, I hesitated at first but given the lack of choice in large-screen monitors, I decided to go ahead and purchase the Monivision. I never looked back ever since because I didn't really notice the lack of "vibrancy" described by bmink50. I guess I am not much of a videophile like bmink50. I think the benefits of the Monivision more than outweighs the negatives for the following reasons:


1) You will never get a 38" 4:3 monitor or a 34" widescreen monitor anywhere else (except for Princeton Graphics and CTX).


2) You will never get 1280x720 resolution on any other tube tvs.


3) The HTPC functionality is much, much more than I had initially expected. . . I may not get the Sony XBR color vibrancy or black levels but if they are average on the Monivision, I don't care as long as I can do all that amazing stuff on my HTPC and see it on that large screen.


So the choice boils down to the following: versatility/features/performance/HTPC vs. XBR-caliber color/blackness/vibrancy.


If you really want everything, then your only option would be to get a Plasma HDTV with VGA or DVI inputs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I read in another thread the implication that (at least the 32") Monivision monitor does not have a clamped-and-DC-coupled video amplifier, but instead has an AC-coupled amp that allows black level to vary with average picture level.


If true, this would be very surprising and disappointing. I don't think I've ever encountered a computer monitor without clamped black levels. And I didn't think any but the cheapest TVs would lack this feature -- my $500 27-inch NTSC Sony has it.


I'm going to try to reach Monivision / CTX / Princeton on the phone today (none has yet answered my e-mails sent this past weekend), and this will be a specific question I will ask (about the 34-inch 16:9 monitor specifically).
 

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Radiophile Video output on 34" flat 16x9 prinston/monivision/CTX is same as 32" monivision but the detail level (dot pitch) is best on 32" tube and it bits hands down 34" flat tubes and sony's 36" XBR 4x5.

When I contacted monivision engineering they told me to readjust G2 on black image?!

Artur.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by artur
Radiophile Video output on 34" flat 16x9 prinston/monivision/CTX is same as 32" monivision but the detail level (dot pitch) is best on 32" tube and it bits hands down 34" flat tubes and sony's 36" XBR 4x5.
Dot pitch will always be better/smaller for smaller screens using the same CRT.


Princeton and Monivision use some very deceptive marketing practices when it comes to dot picth. As an example ... they list that 32" as a .68mm dot pitch. That would be very good ... but they are using the diagonal measurement. Most companies use the horizontal/vertical measurement for more accurate comparison. CTX accurately lists the 32" with a .8mm dot pitch.


These monitors have the same (or worse) dot picth when compared to other TVs ... .8mm for a 32" viewable screen is not very impressive.

http://www.ctxintl.com/products/ms3400VF.htm
http://www.monivision.com/pdfs/DM6952SF.pdf
 

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So what are the alternatives to Monivision/CTX/Princeton Graphics? I did consider the Proton brand of monitors but information on these monitors is hard to locate. I think Loewe also has monitors but they are too pricey.


Man, don't you wish Sony, Panasonic, or Toshiba was selling a 38" flat-screen XBR-caliber monitor with the best video amplifier circuitry available? But I'm sure they'll charge a couple of limbs for that.
 

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What about the Zenith C32V22? It is only $1K with free shipping at amazon. It has a DB15 input and seems that it would be perfect for a inexpensive HDTV monitor. BUT I bet it will have some overscan that has to be fixed with powerstrip. I am seriously thinking about getting this TV and using it as a monitor as well. But I cant find any real refiews on it.
 

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The C32V22 is probably a SVGA-capable monitor meaning it has a max 4:3 resolution of 800x600. Not sure about widescreen resolutions, though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I just thought I'd report back on my results from calling CTX, Monivision, and Princeton Graphics. Recall that I'm hung up on the need to see this unit in person before making a purchase decision, especially given the uncertainties, revealed in this and other threads, about some of its performance characteristics. And even more especially: because no one on this forum has actually seen this exact model either.


CTX said they didn't think the CTX version of this monitor was on display "anywhere in the USA." Princeton Graphics said that there might be one on display in Austin, TX (over 1000 miles away!). Both said that these were "specialty items," not stocked by retailers. "Schools like 'em," one person said.


By far the most helpful was the person I talked to at Monivision. While he said there were probably none on display anywhere, he offered to sell me the unit direct, with return privileges. (I'd still lose the round-trip shipping cost, though.) But, when asked (later, via voicemail) whether the DM7352SF has DC restoration / black-level clamping (so black levels don't vary with average picture level) he said he didn't know, and that he didn't know what those terms meant. Surprisingly, he didn't offer to find out, and just repeated the vague assurance offered previously that I'd probably be very satisfied with the unit's performance.


Well, all of that is not good enough, so I must unfortunately assume the answer to my original question (the title of this thread) is no.


I'm now off considering other alternatives. One of them is spending 2x the amount I'd originally intended on a Samsung DLP set. I saw one in person a few days ago and was impressed. So, with that, I'm now officially off topic :D so I'll sign off here and QSY to the RPTV forum. Thanks to all who helped and contributed to this thread.
 
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