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I'm considering purchasing the 4:3 version of this monitor. The problem is that I've had no opportunity to see one, and there are none available locally for me to check out first-hand. So I need some input. I'm interested in any comments from those who already have one, or have had an opportunity to see one, and may be able to offer a comparison of the Sampo vs other direct-view units in a comparable price range. The best price I've found on it so far is $1,250 delivered.


The Sampo SME-family is one of the few I've seen that will handle 720p native along with the normal 480p and 1080i, and supports RGB inputs and XGA at 1024x768. It supposedly has phenominal PQ, with outstanding sharpness, video dynamic range, convergence, geometry and bandwidth (75 MHz!). These are all desirable attributes for my purposes, as is the compact size of the set (34W x 23D x 28H).


I've read the generally favorable comments on the audioreview.com and epinions.com websites. I've also read Merson's glowing review of the performance of its 34" wide version (in everything above 480i). The 32HD5 has a visible display area of 19h x 25.5w, compared to the 16.5h x 29.5w of the -34W, at roughly half the price. Otherwise, they seem pretty much the same, although it appears that the jackset on the front has S-video & audio but dropped the composite input.


Merson did point out a number of deficiencies at 480i, particularly the notch filter which produced significant chroma artifacts from the RF or composite inputs. However, I was a bit surprised that he didn't point out that these could be bypassed simply by using the S-video input. Even with NTSC RF sources, don't most folks have access to VCRs with tuners and S-video outs? Thus the notch filter can be bypassed.


So some deficiencies of the -32HD5 that I'm aware of are:
  • notch filter for RF and composite inputs (chroma artifacts)
  • S-video jack available only on the front
  • no user-mode geometry adjustments at 480i
  • SVM at 480i (non-defeatable?)
  • requires a service-mode remote for calibration adjustments
  • lacks standard convenience features
  • requires ISF calibration to perform well

If the A/V outputs on the back of the set are full-time tuner outs(?), then they could be passed through an outboard comb filter and back in to the front-panel S-video input (augmented by an external switcher). That would be my first question.


Having a notch filter is a plus in one sense that it allows for the display of PAL input in native mode, which this set supports. That would be handy for viewing (C & Ku-band) satellite-sourced PAL and region 2 DVDs in their full 576-line format. A big improvement over the 12" Sony PVM monitors I've been using for this stuff. :)


I've also seen some comments alluding to reliability problems with these monitors, and if anyone could amplify that I'd appreciate it. Also, how hard is it to get ahold of service-mode remotes? And are service manuals available?


I'm guessing the reason for the substandard performance in 480i is that with no internal line-doubler, the high bandwidth and tight beam-spot size make the scan lines even more visible than on a normal set (you can "read between the lines"). So for these sources, either a DVDO iScan v2 (at ~$300?) would be required, or an HTPC with dScaler?


Any comments that anyone could share on these Sampos would be greatly appreciated, especially any warnings about serious problems that have arisen but not been dealt with by Sampo. Or other deficiencies I may have overlooked. If people are unhappy with them, I'd like to know about it before buying one. Thanks!


- Tim


P.S. One other concern that I have about the Sampo (or almost any other direct-view set, for that matter) is that the dot-pitch is substantially broader than I would expect to find at the spec'd resolution. I.e., computer-grade monitors are typically in the 0.25-0.28 mm range, and I anticipated something in the 0.35-0.40 area for the Sampo. However, the actual dot pitch is 0.80 mm, which with the above listed active scan area, limits the set to 800x600 active dot triads. How you manage to get a 1920x1080i image out of that is a mystery to me. Even XGA would be a stretch.
 

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I'd standby on your purchase as the NEW Sampo's will be out by the 1st of year... Better features and prices (ie... line double...current 32inher has none.)
 

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VideoJoe wrote:

> I'd standby on your purchase as the NEW Sampo's will be out by the 1st of year... Better features and prices (ie... line double...current 32inher has none.)
 
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