Toshiba has finally rounded off its acclaimed WLT66 range with a 26-inch model, and we're hoping this smallest addition to the fold lives up to the standards of its siblings.

The 26WLT66 is a cute looker; the matt black screen bezel and slender, silver outer trim create a sharp aesthetic. It's also curious to discover that while the set sports twin HDMI sockets and component video inputs for HD use, as well as a 15-pin PC input and two Scarts, it has a CI slot for adding subscription services to the built-in digital tuner.

Add to these connections a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels and 1080i/720p HD format compatibility, and the TV can be considered fully HD ready.

The digital tuner, meanwhile, enjoys the customary support from a seven-day Electronic Programme Guide, complete with an eight-event timer memory for recordings.

However, there's no provision for navigating the listings day by day. You have to scroll in maximum two-hour chunks and that's really tedious if you're searching for something seven days ahead.

Heading up the rest of the 26WLT66's features is Toshiba's Active Vision LCD picture processing engine. This impressive system, which has impressed us in the past, is designed to improve four key picture elements: detail, colour, contrast and motion.

Tucked away in the TV's rather lengthy onscreen menus, meanwhile, are options for adjusting the backlight output; applying 'black stretch' processing; calling in MPEG and standard noise reduction; and fine-tuning multiple aspects of the TV's colour tones.

It's a pity, though, that accessing all these features is made needlessly finicky by a sluggish and awkward remote control.

Bright colours

Happily the niggles we had with the set's operating system are at least redeemed by its first-class pictures.

Two things hit you right away. First, the images' extreme sharpness means that full detail and texture justice is done to good hi-def sources. And standard-def pictures look ultra sharp too, provided they're of a decent quality to begin with.

The other key strength is how rich and noise-free colours look. Bright, colour-rich scenes look natural, while radiating with striking intensity. It does no harm to the set's colours, either, that its black level response is impressive.

Not as deep as that of the Panasonic's 26LXD60, perhaps, but certainly good enough to give dark scenes impact. The only (quite minor) problem with this TV's pictures is that motion can look a tad blurred.

Sonically the 26WLT66 is only average. The soundstage goes enjoyably wide and voices are generally clear, but there's a lack of bass and, consequently, trebles can sometimes sound harsh.

Overall, while Toshiba must rethink one or two aspects of its operating system for its future LCD TV generation, the set's pictures are enough to keep Toshiba firmly at the top of the LCD premier league.