A quick scout around a few websites confirmed what we suspected when we first saw this TV's £300 price tag: it's currently the UK's cheapest 17in LCD TV from a major,non-budget brand.Only models from the likes of Proline and Goodmans are cheaper - and even then only by £20 or so.
Its cheapness doesn't stop the LW17M24CU from being a tidy looker,though.The matte,deep grey screen surround is subtly chic,and contrasts neatly with the lighter silver of the speaker-bearing undercarriage.The packaging includes a wall-mounting kit.
Connectivity is better than we'd expect for the money due to the inclusion of a D-Sub connection that permits PC monitor as well as TV use.There's only one Scart,but this is joined by S-video and composite video options.
The specs surpass expectations too.The unusually high native resolution of 1280 x 1024 is noteworthy and the 500:1 claimed contrast ratio is a cut above the budget,small screen norm too.
The performance is pretty respectable.Leading the good stuff out is an impressive brightness level that pumps out the normal small screen diet of daytime TV with plenty of dynamism.Naturally this brightness works well for PC use,too.
The picture is also pleasingly sharp, for two main reasons.First, the unusually high native resolution helps the set deliver good levels of fine detail.Second,although not completely absent,there's less overt trouble from LCD's common smearing interference than usually experienced with such small, lowcost screens.
We're also quite taken by this Samsung screen's colours.They're bright and rich enough to do full justice to even the gaudiest delights of your average studio-based daytime chat show,but perhaps more importantly they also maintain a pretty natural tone during darker, more naturally lit footage.
One final plus point is the picture's freedom from most sorts of noise,even while watching the tuner.
Heading up the negatives, meanwhile, is the way a lack of black level response leaves dark areas of the picture looking greyed over and flat - hardly ideal for watching Buffy.
On a slightly similar note there's minor backlight seepage coming into the top and bottom edges of the picture - though it doesn't seep in far enough to really cause offense.
The 17M24CU is par for the small LCD course sonically - which is to say,not very inspiring.The main problem as usual is an almost total absence of bass,resulting in a general flatness,a sometimes overcrowded mid range,and voices that can sound like they're coming from a sardine can.On the upside, the speakers don't distort,the cabinet doesn't rattle, and treble details sound less harsh than usual.
Overall Samsung has done an OK job with the 17M24CU. It hasn't got the black levels to earn an unqualified recommendation,but with its PC/TV dual functionality and good brightness it still represents fair value. John Archer