Since one of Dell's boasts on its website has been its widescreen 24in LCD PC monitor,it was only a matter of time before the computer giant added a few inches and inserted a TV tuner.
So although this 26in LCD TV will sit well in a lounge,it's visibly tailored to be just as much use in the office. We question the need for not one,but two analogue TV tuners - especially now the government has announced it will start to switch-off analogue TV from 2008.
So is this Dell futureproof? Well, actually it is,because despite the lack of an integrated digital TV tuner,the appearance of a DVI input that's compatible with HDCP means the HDTV signals of the future will find their way onto its high-resolution 1,280 x 768 screen.
The build quality and styling of this TV - which includes a swivelling desktop stand - is pleasing,if a little 'officey'.Besides that DVI input there's a slot for memory cards from digital cameras and plenty of home cinemafriendly connections.Two sets of component video inputs are generous indeed - if a little pointless - while two Scarts (both RGB) help its versatility still further.Lastly, composite video,S-video,phono inputs and a headphone jack sit on the set's side.
Best of all is its substantial remote control.Black,shiny and as attractive as any we've seen,the backlit keypad is useful and a simple layout of commands helps make it very easy to use.Zappers are all too often overlooked,but as the crucial user interface of any TV,we like Dell's way of thinking.
That remote helps make tuning in analogue TV channels simple, although an abundance of noise means the picture quality of such broadcasts leaves a lot to be desired.
In fact,we'd go as far to say that maybe Dell shouldn't have bothered with either of the analogue TV tuners, because despite being merely watchable in quality, there's a definite problem here with aspect ratios and sizing with a distorted and bunched-up picture being the result.Ditching one of the receivers and replacing it with a Freeview one might have been an idea and would certainly have lent extra futureproofing to the W2600.
Pictures through component, Scart and the DVI input are much better and deliver a lot of clarity and vibrant colouring.But while a pleasing amount of contrast is offered,there are significant blurring issues on fast action scenes from DVDs.
Slow screen response times go with the budget LCD territory,which is not something we can say about this TV's side-mounted speakers. Top-notch for the price,they give an unexpected amount of bass while the SRS TruSurroundXT mode proves effective with movies.
To be fair to Dell,the W2600 isn't marketed as the finest 26in LCD in the world,and with higher specified 32in and 37in high-definition LCD screens due soon,we could soon see a proper price-busting entry into the home cinema market from the company. Let's just hope that its next efforts are better value than this well connected, but average performing TV set.