Techview TSL-15T review

A built-in Freeview tuner, but little else to recommend it

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Our Verdict

The built-in Freeview tuner is great, but the screen isn't

For

  • Freeview

    Size

    Ease of use

Against

  • No analogue tuner

    No RGB Scart

    Poor performance

The TSL-15T looks much taller than most new LCD TVs because it's not widescreen and the stereo speakers are mounted at the bottom. There's a smattering of front panel controls but sockets are limited: only one Scart is provided as there's no need for an external digibox.

Also, the TSL-15T will not accept pure NTSC input and, curiously, when an active Scart input was connected, our sample seemed incapable of turning off its speakers in standby mode. For recording purposes, the single Scart outputs composite video, which is suitable for standard VHS but not great for S-VHS or DVD recorders.

Unlike many small LCDs, the TSL-15T has no PC input, so it cannot double up as a monitor either. The TV carries digital text and can be updated via aerial for future improvements.

Also, unlike most Freeview boxes, it has an interface slot so that it can be upgraded to receive subscription channels from Top-Up TV. Widescreen material can be automatically presented in letterboxed or zoom mode but few tweaks are offered.

Performance

The TSL-15T does not possess an especially good LCD panel. The contrast rating is low and there's poor distinction between darker tones, so details in shadowy scenes blend into a single grey. Conversely, colour saturation is fixed permanently at such a powerful level that it threatens to overwhelm the image.

The viewing angle is acceptable but the LCD's response is below average. This results in a blurry trailing effect behind movement, particularly panning shots and scrolling text. On smooth areas of colour, the mesh-like pattern of the panel also shows through.

The sharpness is impressive but this can reveal flaws in digital compression - it's even grainy at times. It seems that the sole benefit of this TV's integrated digital tuner is to receive extra channels, instead of providing picture improvements as it should. Nestled under the screen, the speakers' stereo separation is limited and at just 2 x 2.5W, they don't have much kick. However, they are clear and audible enough.

It may come as a surprise that there are few products such as flat panel TVs and digital recorders that have built-in Freeview tuners. The IDTV sector is dominated by conventional tube TV hybrids but as flatscreens catch on, more integrated sets like this will appear.

It's worth holding out for more brands to enter the fray with higher quality panels and better features. Although this LCD deserves praise for being one of the first with a Freeview tuner, better things are out there.