Even occasionally alarming amounts of smear don't totally rule this Goodmans cheap-boy out
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As ever with Goodmans, you don't have to dig too deep to find its latest LCD TV's big selling point. Basically, it offers you 26in of LCD TV for the preposterously affordable sum of £700. But is that all it has going for it? It's certainly not the sexiest LCD TV ever. The grey colouring is too same old same old for our taste and the screen frame too plasticky. But all of this is perfectly forgivable on a £700 TV.
The LD2601's connectivity is startlingly good - or at least, that's how it first appears. It comes packing both a DVI input and component video inputs - and the component video jacks can take both progressive scan and high definition signals from suitable sources. There's a normal analogue PC input too, plus a duo of Scarts and the usual lower quality video options.
However, the DVI jack isn't compatible with the HDCP anti-piracy system, meaning the screen probably won't handle Sky's high definition broadcasts. In fact, the DVI jack didn't seem compatible with any of the standard video sources we tried, HDCP or no HDCP. Features beyond those already obliquely covered are understandably limited.
In fact, the only thing worth mentioning is picture-in-picture. But we guess this is fair enough for £700. First impressions of the LD2601's pictures aren't good. When we first switched on the set, our Sky box happened to be tuned to a tennis match and the amount of smearing and blurriness over moving objects hit us like a hammer blow.
Sometimes it was hard to see where a player finished and the racquet and ball began. After taking a deep breath, we managed to reduce this smearing by toning down the contrast from its factory preset. But it's still only just bearable, even at this price point.
Switching to an undemanding, largely static source, such as a Sky News broadcast, helps the LD2601 immensely. With the smearing kept mostly at bay, you're free to notice other things about the LD2601's picture, and some of those things are actually rather good.
The contrast range, for instance, is a cut above most budget sets. Black picture areas certainly can't boast world-beating depth and detail, but there's definitely less greying over of darkness than with many low-cost rivals. The picture is quite detailed, too.
The panel's native 1,280 x 768 resolution is impressive for a cheap screen and this plays its part in making pictures look surprisingly sharp and textured (except for when the smearing sets in). The screen even manages to do decent justice to high-definition material.
Edges are nicely presented as well, with minimal noise or edge haloing, while colours at the bright end of the spectrum are impressively full-on and nicely hued. It's not all good news on the colour front, though, as darker hues tend to start looking a bit off-key. Also, skin tones can look a touch waxy. But there are many far more expensive LCD screens that fall prey to these problems, too.
The LD2601 is sadly hopelessly underpowered in the audio department, though. Its speakers look potent enough, but in fact they succumb to distortion and phutting far too easily. They also sound unpleasantly thin and harsh, and give no sense of soundstage width or depth.
The funny thing about the LD2601 is that for all its many faults, it still has some appeal. Yes, it most likely won't be compatible with Sky's HD broadcasts. Yes, the amount of smearing in the picture can be very distracting. Yes, the sound is more or less pants. But if £700 really is as high as you can go, the LD2601 certainly isn't horrible. John Archer
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