Common wisdom dictates that the bigger your TV screen,the more you're likely to appreciate the benefits of high-definition pictures. For this reason companies don't really make HD Ready screens smaller than 26in.Yet that's precisely what Philips has done with the widescreen 20PF5320D - instantly making it arguably the most highend 20in LCD TV yet. But does its performance match its spec?
It's an attractive so and so,at any rate.The widescreen shape seems to suit the 20in screen size,while the combination of a jet black inner screen frame and silver outer, speaker-bearing section is spot on.
A first glance this TV's connections are a touch puzzling. There's a DVI jack for digital video connection,but no component video inputs - even though these are demanded by the industry's HD Ready specifications. But Philips has got round this by making the DVI analogue component video compatible - and by including the necessary component-to-DVI cable in with the TV's packaging.
This DVI jack can also handle PC connections - which is good in one way,but also means that potentially three separate pieces of kit could end up vying for one connection.
This is further compounded by the presence of just one Scart - but there is at least a full set of front AV jacks (in this case down the side).
Noteworthy features are limited to an FM radio tuner,contrast booster and the ability to process Dolby Virtual audio.
Colours are blisteringly intense, bright,well disciplined,impeccably free of dot crawl and edge fizzing, and much more believable in tone than is common at this screen size.
Also very impressive are fine detail levels. High-definition pictures take full advantage of the 1366 x 768 native resolution,and look impeccably textured and sharp.But RGB-fed Sky digibox and DVD standard-definition pictures also look extremely detailed,showcasing impressive scaling abilities. Analogue tuner pictures soften up a bit,but not too distressingly.
It's worth adding,too,that the sharpness is enhanced by a remarkable freedom from LCD's problems with motion smearing.
The only serious weakness is LCD's familiar lack of black response.While this can rather flatten dark movie scenes,during most day to day viewing the black levels are at least deep enough to provide a solid foundation against which colours can shine.
As is all too common with smaller LCD TVs,the 20PF5320's sound is pretty average.There's little bass to speak of, and trebles can sound harsh and compressed. Having said that, these flaws are only really apparent during loud movie scenes; normal TV viewing is clear and bright, if not particularly well rounded.And even FM radio broadcasts sound clean and punchy.
In the end, there's nothing serious not to like about the 20PF5320D. Its picture quality is a cut above the vast majority of the affordable 20in competition,the design is cute,and its specification is impeccably futureproof. John Archer