A potentially great deal that doesn't quite live up to our high expectations
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For a company that normally makes cables and switch-boxes, this LCD TV is a bit of a surprise. While you can buy the screen on its own for £1,998, we tested it in its £2,350 'LCD30Pack' form. For your extra cash you get an external, matching-finish tuner/switching box, a pair of cute-looking spherical speakers and a subwoofer - making this a pretty tidy package.
It's possible to get video signals (including high-def and prog scan) into the DVI and VGA inputs on the screen itself via component-to-VGA and VGA-to-DVI adaptor combinations, but purchasing the switching/tuner box will mean less hassle and more flexibility - especially as it doubles as a video scaler.
This means you can upgrade the resolution of a simple TV tuner feed to get high-definition 1080i resolution, or a variety of PC and video resolutions in-between. Scaling boxes can cost over £1,000, so getting one with this screen - together with a speaker system - for just over £350 seems like very good value.
Unfortunately, the LCD30's pictures did little to genuinely excite us - much like the plot of our King Arthur test movie! The first thing we noticed was an average contrast performance, resulting in the various dark King Arthur scenes looking short of detail.
Nor does the screen have a particularly deft touch with subtle shades and colour gradations in darker areas, either ignoring them or presenting them in an exaggerated fashion. The picture also sometimes looks excessively noisy, with shimmering noise. More detailed shots tend to hide the picture noise well, and also look very sharp, but the rough outweighs the smooth in this area.
It's not all bad though - the variety of skin-tones on show from our test disc are handled with an impressively natural touch. Richer colours also benefit from some full-on saturations, helping vivid scenes boast a particularly strong contrast range.
To be fair, some of the unexpected colour vibrancy probably comes from the fact that the screen is so bright. Brightness isn't as important as contrast to a picture, but as a last resort it can help a screen hold your attention.
In fact, in very particular circumstances, when a scene manages to combine bright daylight with lots of detail and a good colour range, the LCD30 really does look good. But such moments don't occur very often in King Arthur, and dark scenes tend to end up looking poor by comparison.
The LCD30PACK's scaler is a similarly hit-and-miss affair. It can be fairly decent - but this is only provided that you don't try to push things too far. For instance, upgrading a television tuner picture to a 480p progressive scan picture works okay, but trying to make it 576p or higher can cause all manner of nasty digital side-effects.
The LCD30 fares better when it comes to audio, and sound from the speakers is actually pretty fair. During King Arthur's many noisy battles, for example, the Lektropacks reveals a pleasingly rounded tone, along with better treble and bass handling than we'd expected and a surprisingly vivid soundstage. A little bit more volume wouldn't have gone amiss, but otherwise it's very respectable. Except for a slight buzzing noise, that is.
In summary, the Lektropacks LCD30Pack is an interesting proposition. Its aesthetics, audio package and scaler are all brave moves - especially for this kind of money. But some severe limitations in the LCD panel, and more minor problems with the scaler, prove to be a bit too much to live with. It gets close to greatness, but just not quite close enough.
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