There's no getting round the fact that the TX-26LXD600's £950 price tag looks a bit steep for a 26in LCD TV. But then, if anyone can convince us to spend so much on such a small TV, it's probably Panasonic.
The TX-26LXD600 is a cute looker, at any rate. The black bezel offset by silver trim to top and bottom catches the eye pleasantly, and the fact that it rotates on its desktop stand is a handy bonus.
Connectivity is excellent, with two HDMIs, a component video input, a PC input and three Scarts particularly catching our eye. Plus there's a CI slot, which gives away the presence of a built in digital tuner, and a handy SD card slot capable of playing back JPEGs from a digital camera card or even recording TV shows in MPEG 4 for playback on a portable media device.
The set is also HD Ready, with a native resolution of 1366 x 768, and as with all Panasonic's 600 range models comes bearing the brand's new picture processing engine, V-Real.
V-Real incorporates all manner of picture improvements, including adding extra detail to standard definition pictures, separate processing of the red, green and blue elements of each pixel for greater precision, and a new highpowered colour processing engine apparently capable of delivering unprecedented greyscale and colour toning finesse.
It takes all of, ooh, a minute with an HD recording of The Bourne Supremacy to realise that V-Real delivers on all of its promise - and then some. Dark scenes like Bourne's nighttime evasion of the police via a bridge, boat and train combo display arguably the deepest black levels we've seen on a 26in screen.
Yet the inky blackness on offer still retains outstanding amounts of greyscale information and shadow detailing, adding an important sense of scale and geography to even the film's very darkest scenes.
The TX-26LXD600's colours are terrific too, combining extremely rich saturations for Berlin's neon lights with outstanding subtlety when rendering the film's many low-lit skin tone shots.
The screen handles motion exceptionally well too, serving up frenetic scenes like the Goa car chase with scarcely any smearing. The icing on the cake comes from the set's fine detail response, which does a far better job of producing all the textures in detailed scenes, like Nicky's abduction from a crowded Berlin square, than we'd have thought possible on a 26in screen.
Add to these Olympian HD heights a brilliant standard definition performance and a rich, powerful soundstage that's a vast improvement over the slightly impoverished audio of the TX-26LXD60, and you really have got what's pretty much the definitive 26in LCD TV.