Thomson 15LCDM03B review

Gamers need not apply

Our Verdict

Small but adaptable, this good-looking LCD gives a reasonable performance

For

  • Easy to set up

    Good sound

Against

  • Poor connectivity for consoles

Another 4:3 screen that won't be ideal for watching movies, but at least this 15-incher from French manufacturer Thomson has the good looks to get into your bedroom. Innovative, but simple, a grey-clad back support reclines and stands courtesy of a curved base - which also houses the strip-style speakers - as well as an adjustable prop stand on the back.

The silver-framed screen hangs from the curves like a painting in the Louvre, with the mirrored company logo in the centre acting as the artists' signature.

A look at the connections on the rear of the 15LCDM03B reveals little to get excited about, however. Still, one Scart, S-video, composite video, stereo audio inputs and a RF aerial input is a fair, if basic, haul for what is essentially an out-of-lounge screen.

What is more unfortunate for a potential bedroom LCD is the fact that it doesn't lend itself well to use with games consoles. There wasn't physically enough room for us to connect up an Xbox console via a composite-to-Scart adaptor (nor a good-quality, solidly built Scart lead for that matter).

The down-facing inputs in their hollowed-out home don't have much space, so any use of adaptors or good leads is likely to make the set unstable and fall.

Not good news, but those after a flatscreen PC monitor will approve of a door on the upper rear of this Thomson, which hides a D-Sub 15-pin VGA input for a PC, as well as a PC audio input and output.

Setting for TV reception is simple, with the analogue tuner doing its thing within a few minutes and tuning in terrestrial channels without any fuss. And so it should, but you'd be surprised how many TVs struggle with this seemingly simple task. The light remote control is too crowded, however, and buttons, although well laid-out, are far too small for comfortable or easy use.

Images from the tuner were initially disappointing, with football footage looking blurred and ghosted - but this has much to do with the quality of the broadcasts, and is a common problem that LCDs have with fast movement. Other, relatively stationary footage looked stable and very colourful, although realistic skin tones are not a strength and edges sometimes looked fuzzy.

Quiet performer

Our Raiders of the Lost Ark test disc provided similarly mixed results. With a DVD player connected via that RGB Scart, pictures were a little soft, but vividly coloured and almost completely noise-free. Motion was also handled well enough, with little smearing or image lag apparent.

Dimly-lit scenes from Raiders, however, such as the finale in the canyon and the opening scenes in the jungle, did suffer from misty grey-blacks, and were not the most detailed we've seen. Still, these flaws are not big enough to be deal-breakers, and the Thomson's images did at all times remain very watchable.

An early problem with audio (there was none) was solved by delving into the well-designed and basic menus to activate the internal speakers. Stereo sound was clear and detailed, and selecting 'film' mode (there are also settings for voice, music and sport) widened the soundstage to an impressive extent for such a small set.

The 15LCDM03B is a reasonable all-round performer, and despite pictures from both the analogue tuner and DVD having their ups and downs, they are never less than enjoyable. We can well imagine this set in a bedroom, making a sterling effort with whatever you want to put through its (albeit limited) inputs. While not ideal for gamers, it certainly has more to offer than just good looks.

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