Pros: Great value for money, smart appearance with lack of cheap plastic parts, easy setup.
Cons: Optimal picture takes some adjustments, initial setup requires coaxial hookup at least once.
After having our old 32" RCA for the last 10 years, it no longer seemed like the "Big" TV it once was when we first purchased it.
The fact that it was still working beautifully after 10 years, 4 moves, and 2 kids, led us to search out another RCA product to replace it with.
A recent sale at a big-box electronics retailer locally on the 52" RCA Scenium projection sealed the deal, and we took the dive.
What first attracted us to this specefic model in the stores was the downright flashy appearance. With the black border around the display, and the spiffy brushed aluminum panel at the bottom of the display that contains the built in DVD player, control buttons, and front inputs, the TV as a whole has a classy, refined appearance. Compared to many other models, the RCA Scenium simply looked *better* - no cheap plastic trim and other "Plasticy" parts that seem to adorn other models is evident on the RCA Scenium lineup.
Anyhow, at pickup, the TV was packaged well in a humungous box, as would be expected. It was well strapped, and was easilly moved, being surprisingly light - actually lighter then my old 32" tube TV.
Unpacking the unit was easy - cut a few straps, and the top of the packing box lifted right off. The TV lifted out of the bottom of the box, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the unit had wheels on the bottom, making wheeling it around on our wood floors *very* easy.
Be ready to dispose of alot of packaging however.. Tons of styrofoam, and cardboard will ensue. My kids thought that the box was great, however, as I was forced to endure it sitting in our front hall for 3 days while they built various houses, spaceships, etc with it. :-)
Anyhow, the unit easilly wheeled into our living room, and into it's spot. Did I mention the wheels are great?
Initial hookup was very simple - there is a wide variety of hookups on the rear of the unit - 2 regular RCA inputs with SVideo hookups as well, 2 composite inputs (for HiDef, etc), a full Digital connection (Rarely used at this point, but *great* for future-proofing!), as well as a front A/V input that will be handy for our video camera, etc.
I hooked the unit up to our HDTV Satellite receiver using component cables (Necessary for HDTV use), and plugged the TV in. Giving it a few minutes before being turned on seemed appropriate, so I left it hooked up for a few minutes while installing the remote batteries, which were included.
The time came - and I hit the power switch!
After a breif onscreen setup (language, channel setup, etc), the TV proceeded to a picture.
And the results were....well, mediocre. Viewing a regular (non-HDTV) channel resulted in a fairly grainy picture.
I knew the TV was capable of much more, having checked out the picture already at the store before buying.
Off I went into the menu, checking various settings.. It didn't take much tweaking, and the picture dramatically improved. The default settings are apparently not very appealing, as the result after adjusting the plentiful settings within the onboard meny was much more pleasing.
The next thing to setup was the convergence - which is astoundingly easy on it this unit, as it has an automatic electronic convergence feature.
This sure beats manual convergence setups, where tedious manual adjustments are necessary.
Simply select "Auto convergence" from the onscreen menu, and the TV goes into a setup mode.. A minute or so later, it's all done!
Once completed, off to HDTV mode I went, and the picture was astounding! It's certainly not the *best* picture I've ever seem, but I'd be comparing it to $5000 to $8000 Plasma and DLP models to find anything better, quite honestly. For the price, the RCA Scenium lineup provides a stellar HDTV picture.
The initial thing that took some getting used to was the fact that when viewing regular TV, the widescreen presents a rather skewed picture of regular 4X3 broadcast channels, when stretched to fit the entire widescreen display.
Literally, within a day or so, we got used to it, and we quite honestly ever notice it any longer, but when visitors come over they do mention it.
One of the minor frustrations that we experienced was that every time we switched the unit on, it prompted us with the setup screen once again - language, and then the inevitable channel setup. The only problem was that the unit was looking for channels on *only* the coaxial (cable TV) input, and not on either the RCA inputs or Component inputs.
As long as it didn't find at least *one* channel, it continued to prompt us with this menu over and over again everytime we started the TV.
Eventually, I temporarilly connected a peice of coax cable between our satellite receiver, and the TV, switched it on, and let it find a single channel.
Ever since, the TV has been happy - the setup nag screen no longer bothers us, and the TV stays on the "Input 1" input selection that we use most often, instead of resetting each and everytime we turn it off.
Much better, but a bit of a pain - alot of people no longer use coaxial input connections any longer, yet the TV refuses to complete this basic "setup" untill it receives a coaxial signal at least once.
The remote for the TV is as spiffy looking as the TV itself - a sleek unit, with a brushed aluminum faceplate. Being a learning remote, it can be programmed to operate a variety of other stereo components, which is also another bonus. Since I use a Philips Pronto touchscreen remote (See my review here at Epinions) instead, I had no use for the learning functionality, and as such, have not tried it.
The DVD Player:
One of the side benefits of this TV was yet another DVD Player, built in. The TV's has another complete onscreen menu system that deals with the DVD Player seperately, and it all seems to work quite well.
Since I already have a high-end DVD player in my AV rack, as well as a DVD recorder unit, I doubt I will find much use for yet another one (built in, or otherwise), but it wasn't for this feature that I bought the TV to begin with - it kind of just came with the deal.
I have tried it, however, and it does seem to work OK. The "red" display using the built in DVD player does indeed seem to suffer from signifigant bleeding, however, as other reviews on this TV have touched on.
I'm sure with appropriate picture adjustment, this problem could be solved, but since I will likely seldom use this player, it's not high on my priority list.
The unit will however play MP3 Cd's, as well as a few other formats as well, which may be usefull for some.
Since I don't use the TV's speakers, but instead use my home theatre for sound, piping sound from the built in DVD player back to my home theatre presents another problem, however the TV does have an optical audio output, which is nice. There is no need to be stuck using the TV's sound system if one should choose to utilize the built in DVD player - fell 5.1 surround is piped out via the optical output.
Additionally, there are several additional external speaker hookups on the rear of the unit which can be used if one should choose. Again, with a home theatre rack, I will likely never use these outputs, but the availability is certainly there.
Wow, it's been about 3 weeks now since we got this unit, and were still impressed! The unit is sleek and classy, and even looks hot when it's turned off.
When operating, with a good video signal, the picture is great, remaining visible at angles that would cause the picture on lesser projection TV's to black out.
After a few initial quirks which we worked out, the unit has been working flawlessly ever since.
Our past experience with RCA TV's has been impressive, and hope that our new Scenium lives up to these expectations for lifespan and durability.
Thanks for reading my review, and I would appreciate it if you could take a moment to provide a rating below.