Any other time Funai's B1504's £200 price tag would surely have earned it the title of cheapest 15in LCD TV ever. But remarkably it has to share that award with Alba. Still, if it can overcome the Alba's performance issues, it might just claim victory as the best value 15in LCD TV ever.
Lifting the Funai from its box, the first thing that strikes us is how light it is. In fact, it's so light we thought we'd accidentally been sent a dummy unit without any electronics inside! This makes it unusually portable even by 15in LCD standards - but inevitably there's a price to pay in build quality, as the set's finish is overtly plasticky and cheap-looking.
Connectivity is pretty limited, too. There's an RGB Scart, a tuner jack, an S-video jack and a composite jack - but that's it. Meaning that, unlike the Alba, there's no way of doubling this TV up as a PC monitor. Shame.
The Alba also beats the B1504 in terms of native resolution, offering 1,024 x 768 to the Funai's measly 640 x 480. So far so bad. Just as well, then, that the B1504's 500:1 claimed contrast ratio is a touch higher.
It's back to negativity during a search for features, though, as really the only thing even remotely worth mentioning is a backlight adjustment. This 4:3 TV doesn't even carry a widescreen mode, for heaven's sake.
Just as well that its performance saves the day. Particularly striking for such an affordable LCD is the surprising range and natural tones of the colour spectrum. People's skin tends to avoid the greenish undertone so prevalent in cheaper LCD products, for instance, while rich reds and blues look richly saturated without over-dominating. There's even a fair degree of subtlety in colour gradations.
The picture is bright enough to be enjoyable in ambient light, too, and contains surprising amounts of fine detail.
We were also pleased to note that pictures were not as prone to ghosting and grain with analogue tuner sources as many rivals, including the same-priced Alba.
But of course, it's not all plain sailing. The biggest problem as usual concerns black levels. Dark picture portions on the B1504 are prone to greying and possess practically no shadow detail subtlety at all, leaving them feeling empty and flat.
Pictures with camera pans or rapidly moving objects can also highlight traces of smearing caused by a merely average LCD response time, especially during tuner (as opposed to RGB Scart) viewing.
In audio terms the Funai isn't as much of a dead loss as most LCD diddy men. There's practically no bass, but the set at least sounds convincing with dialogue, and gives a decent amount of mid-range and treble detail without harshness or distortion, even at high volumes.
If you're just looking for a cheap-as-chips LCD portable for basic TV viewing in a kitchen or bedroom, you could certainly do worse. But as a DVD or VCR movie machine, its lack of contrast and bass should make you think twice.