Manufacturers are increasingly packing more and more features into their small TVs. Take the 19-inch, HD Ready L19DVDB20 LCD TV from Dixons' own-brand Logik range. Despite its small screen, it manages to cram in a DVD player, alongside USB playback and recording features. And it all comes at the bargain price of just £130.
Predictably, the set isn't much to look at in terms of design. It's got a standard black finish, with only a small lip at the bottom to add anything in the way of flair. The chassis feels plasticky too, especially the flimsy snap-on stand. As there's a DVD player built in, the set is also quite chunky, measuring 76mm thick. Nevertheless, the long, thin remote fits comfortably in your hand and the button layout is sensible, with all the main controls within easy reach.
Setting up the TV is a cinch, as its standard-definition Freeview tuner scans all the relevant channels as soon as you first turn it on. The TV's menu system is very basic-looking, with graphics that would do MS-DOS proud, but everything you need to configure is pretty easy to get at. Thankfully, the electronic programme guide looks much more welcoming than the rest of the set's menus. It's also fast, and you can skip around the EPG without the set constantly having to pause to change channel, as some of Toshiba's cheaper models do.
The range of connections is limited to just a single HDMI port, a Scart socket and a set of component and composite inputs. But that's probably more than most people are likely to use on a 19-inch set.
One of this telly's best features is the USB port that's found on the left-hand edge. Plug a memory key or USB hard drive into it and you can use it to playback MP3 music files, JPEG pictures, and movies in the MPEG-2, DivX and Xvid formats. The playback quality of DivX files is especially impressive, and fast-forward and rewind functionality is supported, something that's not always the case on this type of TV.
Even better than this is the fact that the USB port allows you to pause and rewind live TV, and also schedule recordings of upcoming shows using the set's EPG. Setting up recordings is more complicated than it needs to be, so you may find yourself having to refer to the manual at first. But the quality of recordings is first-rate and you can even transfer files to a PC to view them with software such as Media Player Classic.
Have a peak at the left-hand side of the set and you'll find the slot-loading DVD player. The loading mechanism is slow, but the playback quality is more than acceptable for a TV of this size. The DVD player also supports digital-media files that have been burned onto a disc, so you can use it to playback MP3, JPEG and DivX files.
Pictures with punch
The screen has a native resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, which means that it's HD Ready, rather than 'Full HD'. But, on a screen this size, you'd need the eyes of a hawk to tell the difference between 720p and 1080p footage at a normal viewing distance. For example, BBC HD fed via Sky+HD looks impressively sharp and detailed.
While many cheaper LCD TVs suffer from a lack of contrast, producing pictures that look rather muddy, that's not the case with this telly. Images actually have good levels of contrast, and benefit from decent amounts of shadow detail too. This comes at the expensive of black levels, however. Blacks on this screen can sometimes look slightly greyish.
Nevertheless, the TV's colours look refreshingly natural and skin tones are pretty accurately rendered. There's some motion blur during faster-moving scenes, such as panning in sports broadcasts, but, overall, the picture quality is way above what you'd expect at this price point.
Perhaps the weakest area of this set is its sound quality. Although it's small, 3W speakers are surprisingly loud, they sound tinny, even on settings that crank up the bass. At higher volume levels, some distortion also creeps in.
At just over half the price of the Linsar 19LED805T, yet offering pretty much the same features, bar LED backlighting, the Logik L19DVDB20 represents very good value for money. Add in the fact that its small screen produces punchier images and you've got a real bargain on your hands. If you're seeking a cheap secondary set for the kitchen or bedroom, we think this TV would prove an excellent purchase.
Edited by Charles Kloet