Panasonic TX-26LXD80 review

This 26" LCD TV makes short work of Freeview but could do with work when dealing with HD

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

Despite its recent price cut, the 26LXD80 still looks too expensive when considered against the clearly superior Sony 26V4000

For

  • Solid pictures and sound
  • Excellent connectivity

Against

  • Slightly drab design
  • Over expensive

Having had its price cut from £490 all the way down to £375, the TX-26LXD80 might be a serious bargain. Not that the TV's design supports this notion: its fairly bland sculpting and simple black colour scheme do nothing to help the TV stand out from the crowd.

Far more pleasing is the TV's connectivity, for as well as the three HDMIs and a D-Sub PC port, the set sports an SD card input for viewing digital photos and that's rare at this price.

In typical Panasonic style, the 26LXD80 is also exceptionally easy to use, with a superbly simple remote control and clear, concise onscreen menus.

Notable features among these onscreen menus include a decent selection of picture presets, of which the 'Cinema' mode is easily our favourite, and a surprising 3D Colour Management system that gives you impressive control over the smallest elements of the picture.

The only disappointing aspect of the 26LXD80's specification is its lack of video processing, with neither 100Hz nor Panasonic's proprietary V-real system on hand to give pictures a helping hand.

Decent Freeview

Happily this doesn't stop the 26LXD80's pictures from being pretty good. In fact, with standard-def sources, especially Freeview broadcasts, they're very good; clean, sharp and richly coloured.

They are likeably bright, too, and join the previous two strengths we've mentioned in marking this set unusually credible for conservatory or kitchen use, where a picture that stands out against loads of ambient light is particularly important.

The 26LXD80 doesn't attain the same high image quality standards as many larger Panasonic LCD TVs, though, for various reasons. First, colours have a nasty tendency to slide slightly 'off message', especially when showing skin. A vague yellow undertone sometimes slips into proceedings, too.

Also, the 26LXD80's HD images are rendered without the sort of sharpness and definition seen on some of our other TVs – particularly the Sony KDL-26V4000 and Toshiba 26AV505DB models. The lack of 100Hz doesn't help, either, as there's evidence of gentle smearing over really fast motion that further dents the image's HD sharpness.

Finally, we weren't very impressed by the 26LXD80's black level response. Dark scenes suffer a bluish grey undertone that makes them feel slightly flat and unnatural.

The TV ups its game a bit with its audio performance. The speakers can go louder than those of most 26in efforts, and they can do so without sounding compressed or muddy. Sadly, there's not as much bass around as we'd like when watching a good action film.