One thing you know for sure you're going to get with a Goodmans TV is a jaw-droppingly low price. What you can't be certain of, though, is what your puny outlay will get you in terms of performance. Some Goodmans models rock, others frankly suck. So let's hope the LD3261HDFVT falls into the former category.
With a price tag of just £450, it's perhaps inevitable that its black finish is overtly plasticky and really not very stylish at all. Rather less forgivable, perhaps, is its provision of just one HDMI socket. To be fair, the TV's target market probably won't be connecting too many HDMI-bearing sources - Sky HD box, Blu-ray player, HD DVD player, PS3 - anyway.
The set does at least carry a component video input to bolster its high definition credentials, with a 1366 x 768 native resolution rounding off its HD Ready status. It's also got both a D-Sub PC input and a built-in digital tuner - neither of which we would expect as a given for £450. Other features, though, are predictably thin on the ground.
In action, the LD3261HDFVT proves to be one of Goodmans' less inspiring efforts. Its sound, for instance, is barely average, with hardly any bass and a lack of raw power that leaves the soundstage thin and distorted during all but the very quietest of our King Kong HD DVD's scenes. Only some surprising width and treble detailing saves the soundstage from complete ignominy.
Pictures, too, are determinedly average. As Jack Driscoll and others fight super-sized insects at the bottom of a dark ravine, for instance, the darkest corners look bluish grey rather than black, and also seem hollow thanks to a lack of shadow detail finesse.
The extreme colour palette of the Empire State Building climax, meanwhile, also catches out the LD3261HDFVT, as some of the tones (especially the skin tones) adopt an unconvincing hue. The final problem with the screen can be seen as Kong scraps with a couple of T-Rexes, as the action suffers quite a bit from LCD's common smearing problem.
However, there are three qualities that ensure that the LD3261HDFVT remains a value for money proposition despite its failings. Firstly, light, airy King Kong sequences, like those in New York at the movie's start, are decently bright.
Secondly, except for where the motion smearing gets in the way, the set delivers a solid sense of HD's extra quality over standard definition. And finally, its standard definition performance suffers less with noise than you might expect. What this all adds up to is an HDTV that just about offers fair value for money, but which can't compete in quality terms with any of its rivals today.