It's official: hi-def is within everybody's price range.
The latest offering from Humax, its 19in LGB-19DZT, crams a HD-ready resolution into a 19in flatscreen, bringing HDTV to your kitchen or bedroom for less than £300. It sounds ideal, doesn't it? Unfortunately, there's one vital reason why we're not completely convinced.
When it comes to hi-def, size is everything. We're firmly in the camp that believes that a 26in flatscreen is the minimum requirement to see the benefits of HD transmissions.
Bearing that in mind, for the purposes of this review, we've decided to concentrate on the LGB-19DZT's digital and standard definition DVD performance - for now, still the twin primary uses of a second room TV. (Although we will, of course mention how it fares with HD.)
Bargain bedroom LCD
Despite occupying less space than a CRT TV, it's a shame that the black-clad Humax LGB-19DZT is unappealing to look at - there's a distinct whiff of the '80s here.
The clunky looks continue with the remote control: it feels cheap and looks like it has more in common with an old VCR than an HDTV.
At least the TV's buttons and connections are conveniently placed.
Plenty of high definition connections
The Humax LGB-19DZT's connections satisfy the HD-ready requirements. A single HDMI input and component video input lead the charge, with RGB Scart and S-video bringing up the rear.
There's also a CAM slot, alerting our attention to the built-in digital tuner (an analogue tuner is also included).
Set-up is blissfully straightforward. Just pop the (supplied) batteries into the remote control, switch the TV on, and the automatic tuner does the rest.
Some image issues
First impressions from the digital tuner are mixed. We expect picture limitations from a 19in TV, but the images from the built-in digital tuner rarely rise above average.
News and chat shows (basically footage with little movement) are within its capabilities, but more challenging material sees the Humax LGB-19DZT floundering.
Our main criticisms are that pictures look soft and there are some motion smearing problems. Natural history programmes can reveal average black levels and pictures lacking in sharpness.
Colours appear too aggressive from the factory settings. Have a fiddle with the settings too - we'd advise turning up the level of sharpness.
Fair flatscreen pictures
Pictures from our test DVD of The Mighty Boosh also suffer from similar problems. Black levels, by no means disastrous, look too grey to be convincing.
Pictures are also softer than we expected. Despite the relatively wide viewing angle, the Humax LGB-19DZT delivers its best results viewed head-on.
Despite our grumbles, the pictures that we eventually coaxed from the Humax LGB-19DZT are as good as we hoped for.
Although they don't break any ground, the bar has definitely been raised as to what can be expected from a sub-£300 small flatscreen.
Ironically, given our belief that 19in is too small for hi-def, these pictures rock; it seems that even budget models can over-perform with the HD harness on.
Audio also impresses: the two 8W speakers deliver satisfying levels of bass and separation at lower volumes.
The Humax LGB-19DZT doesn't stand a chance as a contender for your living room. But as a TV to replace an outmoded CRT in a second room, this 19in TV is well worth an audition. And you'd be wise to preference hi-def over SD - despite our reservations.