If you want to buy a new TV these days, it'll have to be a flat screen, even if it's for the bedroom or kitchen. These new televisions from the major manufacturers impress not only because of their picture performance and design, but also their low price. Some even offer integrated Freeview tuners and high-definition compatibility, meaning they're perfect long-term investments.
The Panasonic TX26LXD50 arrived slightly too late to impress, as it lacks an HD Ready badge. The screen resolution is high-definition compatible, but there's no HDMI or DVI socket on the rear -- something that has now been rectified with an upgrade. If you can look past this weakness, Panasonic's picture quality is excellent and there's an internal Freeview tuner.
The Philips 26PF5520D has it all -- it's HD Ready and has an internal Freeview tuner, plus it's an amazing price. The cost savings come in the form of picture processing, with Philips' Pixel Plus engine omitted from this budget display. Picture quality isn't the best therefore, but it's still a true bargain from one of the electronics world's biggest manufacturers.
The Toshiba 27WL56 is garnering plenty of interest, again for its budget price and high-definition compatibility. It looks great, but it doesn't have an internal digital tuner. Instead, it offers the very latest HDMI connectivity and it has a warm, comforting picture with a deep contrast. There's a strange lack of connectivity on the whole though, and we found the Philips a more complete package.
Sony's 26-inch LCD has the advantage of Wega Engine picture processing -- the best technology on the market. It means the picture quality is crisp and colourful, but this TV may let you down in the future. It's not high-definition ready and it lacks a Freeview tuner, so this one's for picture-quality purists only. It also offers Memory Stick photo playback, but unlike other Sony LCDs, it won't record TV to the portable format.