Small LCD TVs might be ultra-convenient and even quite cute, but their sheer lack of size almost always means that their sound quality is like listening through a couple of tins tied together with string. Available for around £300, Humax's 22-inch LGB-22DYT is out to prove that it doesn't have to be this way.
Humax realises you probably could never get great sound from the puny speakers that have to be fitted into a small LCD TV's bezel. It's simply taken the speakers out of the 22DYT's bezel and shoved them into a more or less separate 'speaker bar' that runs along beneath the screen.
This relative brute of a speaker really delivers the goods, churning out a soundstage full of volume, dynamism, treble clarity, vocal richness and even a decent amount of bass. In fact, we've heard plenty of 32- and even 37-inch LCD TVs that don't sound as good as this little 22-incher. Remarkably, the set's inclusion of SRS TruSurroundXT processing doesn't turn out to be as laughably optimistic as you'd expect.
Another impressive feat is the fact that the 22DYT crams 1,680x1,050 pixels into its diddy screen, making it comfortably 'HD Ready'. In connection terms, it's nice to find the set sporting a D-Sub PC port, as this allows the TV to double up as a computer monitor, making its already pretty reasonable £300 price tag look even better.
Again exceeding our expectations, it does better justice to the detail of HD sources and easily delineates the difference between standard and high definition. The 22DYT also impresses with its black level response, as dark scenes look blacker and more believable than on many rival small LCDs. We also found markedly less trouble with motion blur when watching actions scenes or sports footage than we would have anticipated at this size and price point.
While it might sound great, the 22DYT's speaker bar looks ugly. It's a million miles from the svelte designer lines offered by most small-screen rivals.
It's also a shame to report that the 22DYT can be a nightmare to use, thanks to a ridiculous set of onscreen menus that use text so small you practically have to press your nose up against the screen to read it. Another 'up front' problem is the TV's provision of only one HDMI. Obviously, a screen this small is never going to become the centrepiece of a serious home cinema system, but surely two HDMIs must be considered a bare minimum for any TV these days.
There are numerous problems with the 22DYT's picture quality, too. For starters, its images are really rather dull. The screen claims a brightness of just 300cd/m2 -- only just over half what we'd normally find quoted for an LCD TV -- and this seems entirely borne out by the generally drab look to proceedings. The low brightness might also explain why the set's colours tend to look washed out, especially where skin tones are concerned.
Probably the single most aggravating thing about the 22DYT's pictures, though, is the way it doesn't show films or TV programmes in their correct aspect ratio. The screen's unusual 1,680x1,050 resolution causes pictures to be stretched slightly in the vertical domain, sometimes to very distracting effect.
If you're looking for a second-room TV predominantly for playing MTV channels while you iron or make the bed, then the 22DYT's outstanding audio capabilities put it in a class of its own. But if you're after a TV you actually want to sit down and watch once in a while, we confidently predict that the 22DYT's picture flaws -- especially in its aspect ratio -- will fast become really irritating.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday