Available for around just £280, the Toshiba Regza 26AV505DB is amazingly cheap for a big-name, 26-inch LCD TV with an HD Ready resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. If it can deliver better performance than you tend to get from the budget brands usually found at this level of the market, it could be a real winner.
The dirt-cheap price is not the 26AV505DB's only stand-out feature, as it has a claimed 30,000:1 contrast ratio -- a figure that reveals the set to boast a dynamic backlight system of the sort still rare at the entry-level end of the market.
A passably flexible colour-management system is another feature of the 26AV505DB that we wouldn't expect to find on such a cheap TV, and there's also both MPEG and standard noise reduction.
It's the 26AV505DB's performance that really endears it to us, though. While not particularly outstanding, it's decent and far more consistent than any other TV of between 26 and 28 inches that we've seen at the same price point.
Take the set's motion handling, for instance. While there's definitely some sign of the blurring problem common to LCD TVs, it's much less distracting than on the majority of budget rivals.
Also, the set's black levels, while not ultra-profound or completely free of greyness, leave dark scenes looking perfectly watchable, giving respectable levels of shadow detail.
The set's colours are good too, delivering more of a punch than we usually find for under £300. High-definition pictures also look engagingly sharp and detailed for an HD Ready set -- no mean feat for a TV as relatively small as the 26AV505DB.
Finally, the 26AV505DB's sound is solid, while the audio squeezed out of all too many cheap and cheerful 26-inch TVs is barely worth listening to.
The 26AV505DB is flimsily built compared with higher-spec Toshiba models, and, disappointingly, doesn't include a D-Sub PC port among its connections. This omission is made worse by the set's provision of just two HDMI ports when most big-brand TVs have three.
It's a pity that the quest to pursue a budget price tag for the 26AV505DB has led Toshiba to deny the TV its proprietary Active Vision LCD image processing, or any 100Hz system to better counter LCD TVs' motion-handling issues.
While the 26AV505DB's colours are unusually vibrant for the price, they occasionally suffer from an unnatural tone or two, especially when watching standard-definition content.
Finally, while the set's audio is superior to the feeble efforts of most budget rivals, it definitely lacks bass and raw power when compared with more expensive TVs.
If you compare the Toshiba Regza 26AV505DB to much of what's on offer from other big LCD brands, it doesn't seem particularly special. But, if you keep in mind its remarkably low price and the quality of its direct competitors, it suddenly starts to look like a bargain of gargantuan proportions.
Edited by Charles Kloet