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BenQ’s H200 LCD TV.

Remember when home-theater systems became all the rage? The only TVs that deserved surround sound were big-screens that cost you a second mortgage and wouldn’t even fit through the door. Now, with the advent of LCD and Plasma TVs, we know you don’t need a monstrosity to recreate the theater, especially if you can find a TV with surround sound built in.

BenQ Corp. recently released its H200 LCD TV, a stunningly chic silver 20-inch flat screen priced comparably ($1,995) to others on the market. What sells the H200 are the speaker bulbs mounted below the screen. They’re merely 4 inches in diameter, but they deliver amazing, robust surround sound from SRS Labs. SRS Wow transforms stereo signals into three-dimensional sound so that your music and movies seem to fill the room, without all the wiring and adjustments required of a receiver.

Otherwise, the H200 is like most LCD TVs: it can be hung on a wall, set on a stand, and carried like a briefcase. Its menu is very user-friendly, which makes programming the V-Chip or adjusting the aspect ratio extremely easy. It’s fully compatible with all DTV formats. And while some flatscreens can cause eyestrain, the H200 has a variety of customizable picture options including “cool” and “warm.”

The only problem I found with the H200 was its clarity when used as a computer monitor; in fact, you shouldn’t even bother to try it out as one. H200’s native display resolution is only 800 by 600, compared to the 1,600 by 1,200 max of BenQ’s LCD monitors. I was able to get rid of some distortion and noise by fine-tuning the Phase and Sync functions, but even then, various icons and fonts appeared slightly blurry. But that’s certainly a petty burden compared to your old monitor.

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