Despite being more at home on super-sized screens, there's a growing demand for hi-def in places other than the living room. ViewSonic joins the list of companies bringing hi-def to the bedroom with the N2060W, an HD-ready 20in set with an attractive feature list and an enticing £400 price tag.
HD-readiness is achieved by the inclusion of an HDMI on the rear panel, which allows you to hook up a Sky HD box or hi-def disc player.
Extra hi-def connectivity comes in the form of component video inputs, and for standard-def kit you'll find a single RGB Scart. The sockets are rounded off with a PC VGA input.
Sadly the set's light silver styling, with some unattractive meshed speakers placed below the screen, pales in comparison with the understated elegance of rival brands.
Also disappointing is the lack of a digital tuner, given that its analogue tuner could be out of commission in a matter of months. Unless you hook up an external digital TV box you'll be stuck with five channels and miss out on all that Freeview goodness.
To ease our disappointment there are a few other features, such as SRS WOW sound, ClearPicture image processing, a picture-in-picture mode and a range of basic picture adjustments. The claimed 1000:1 contrast ratio, 500cd/m2 brightness, 8ms response time and 176° viewing angle are worth noting, and make us fairly optimistic about the set's performance.
However, the N2060W is an absolute pig to use. The cheap remote sports buttons in all the wrong places, with the important channel and volume controls bizarrely tucked away in a corner. As a result, even the most basic task becomes a chore.
High HD performance
All is forgiven, however, when you clap eyes on the set's gorgeous hi-def pictures. Despite the size of the screen (which means you need to sit a lot closer to really appreciate hi-def), its images are so sharp you should wear goggles to avoid slicing your eyeballs, while colours are spot on.
Movies like A Night at the Museum on Sky HD positively explode from the screen in a flurry of warm, bold colours, with low noise levels and no edge bleed. Our only qualm is that black level is slightly below par, but not bad for the money.
And switching to Wimbledon coverage on BBC HD, the set copes with the fast-moving ball without introducing an excessive amount of smearing, making that quoted response time seem like a good shout.
However, the drop in quality between hi-def and standard-def is a bigger than we'd hoped. Images seem soft and diagonal lines look jagged at times, making DVD playback not up to its usual crisp standards.
The N2060W's weedy 3W speakers aren't able muster the sort of sound quality that does justice to movies, despite the best efforts of SRS WOW. Loud effects that require a kick are left sounding flat, while anything with a bit of beef at the bottom end causes the set's plastic casing to rattle.
Good, not great
For all its flaws, the N2060W is no disaster, particularly when you consider the price tag. The set's performance with hi-def material is superb, and it boasts generous connections. If that's all you need then you're onto a winner; however, if top-notch standard-def pictures and sound are priorities then look elsewhere.