Thomson 30LCDB03BK review

The Darth Vader of TVs?

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Our Verdict

The past hasn't been kind to this Thomson, with some of the newer kids on the LCD block mercilessly highlighting its picture and feature weaknesses

IThe Thomson's looks certainly haven't gone out of fashion. The jet-black, futuristically angular and minimalist finish makes it easier on the eye - albeit in a slightly disturbing Darth Vader kind of way - than most of its competitors.

The 30LCDB03BK also belies its 'vintage' by shaming one or two rivals with connectivity. Highlights include a DVI jack, PC jack and component video inputs. The only oddity is that you have to use the PC in (probably via a component-to-VGA adaptor) to enjoy high-def or progressive scan pictures. But even though watching HD and prog scan might be a bit more fiddly than usual, at least you can watch them.

The Thomson is distinctly light on features. But in some ways this is quite a relief, since it means you have to spend less time with what is a prime contender for the worst instruction manual ever! The 30LCDB03BK's pictures suffer slightly when compared to those of rival screens on the market.

When we last looked at this screen we were concerned about the difficulty it had showing a convincing black, and the problem is now even more evident. Check out any of the footage aboard Star Wars' Millennium Falcon, for instance.

Dark areas are more grey than on any rivals here, making the picture look flat and causing you to strain your eyes to make out any of the background details - pipes, switches, high-tech knobbly bits - that the set designers have so lovingly created. These Millennium Falcon scenes also highlight the 30LCDB03's other flaw - namely that the skin of our human heroes sometimes takes on a distinctly greenish tone more suited to aliens when there's not much brightness around.

When there is brightness however, such as during the outdoor scenes at Mos Eisley, the Thomson is so good you'd swear it was a different TV. Colours become much more potent, direct and believable, peak whites achieve a level of intensity that almost damages your retinas, and you suddenly notice that the screen also knows how to etch out a fine detail or two. The only downside to this bright-scene glory is that it makes the screen's problems with darker scenes all the more obvious.

Small consolation

There's no such inconsistency with the 30LCDB03's sound. As well as apparently having more power than most rivals, an impressive frequency range lets the speakers deliver much more impact from the Death Star's climactic explosion than many LCDs can muster.

But sadly, of course, sound isn't as important to an LCD TV as pictures. And the 30LCDB03BK's inconsistencies in this department - which were already cause for concern - are now even harder to ignore in the company of new screen kings like Sony's KLV-L32M1...