It may only have been a matter of months since we reviewed the preceding 26LXD60, but Panasonic's LCD technology is advancing at such an accelerated rate that a new series, the 26LXD600, has already been released.
There have been several advances to the design and the screen's connectivity, which now includes a previously missing PC input and an SD memory card slot that can even be used for limited recording. The new panel features wider viewing angles supported by more sophisticated picture processing -- although the basic fuss-free functionality has been left alone.
We thought it would be difficult to raise performance standards but images appear to carry more detail accompanied by class-leading contrast and colour reproduction. All this is reflected in a comparatively high price (around £1,000) for a small-sized screen, but it's worth it.
Panasonic screens have always been style conscious and a few subtle design changes have only enhanced the appearance of the latest range. The matte-black surround has been broadened to integrate side-mounted speakers, which were previously positioned across the base. This has the effect of opening up a wider sound stage for the audio to perform.
The contrasting silver section below is now used to conceal several primary controls and basic AV inputs beneath a flip-down panel, which keeps the design clean and classy. This section also houses an SD card slot that can be used to access JPEG photos from a digital camera or MPEG4 videos stored on a memory card. You can also record TV programmes or even an external source onto a memory card.
From the front, the design appears sleek and compact but the deep dimensions of the rear panel mean it carries a substantial weight. This extra load is a consequence of enhanced technology and connectivity compared to previous models.
The most obvious new addition is a previously ignored VGA input that allows the screen to be used as a monitor by PC or media centre owners, although there's still no dedicated PC audio input. You can use standard stereo inputs to carry sound and there are also stereo outputs now -- another absentee in earlier models.
A third Scart terminal has also returned, with two of them RGB-enabled for high-quality performance from a conventional connection. These are accompanied by analogue component inputs, which will support progressive scan video for improved performance from a compatible DVD player.
The highest quality performance, however, is reserved for the high-definition compatible digital inputs. The screen will accept 720p and 1080i high-definition signals using two HDMI connections, which means you can connect a pair of HD sources at the same time. This is ideal if you're using Sky's HDTV services and a high-definition or upscaling DVD player -- while other HD sources like the Xbox 360 can also be connected using the component inputs.
Finally, even the remote unit has been afforded a face-lift with a more stylish silver finish and slender dimensions -- but the intelligently arranged, oversized keys have been kept to ease operation.