LG's RZ-14LA60 is the third sub-£300 LCD screen to arrive on our test benches and very attractive it is too. The quality of its light silver finish seems funkier than usual, while the metallic strip underneath the screen, curved grille over the speaker and striking arched stand add plenty of character.
Connections are what we'd expect for a £300 LCD TV. They cover all the key AV bases - including a four-pin S-video jack - but don't provide any PC compatibility. Oh well. C'est la budget vie!
A supremely elegant remote control, complete with helpful button layout,works a treat with utterly basic but also utterly foolproof onscreen menus to make using the RZ-14LA60 a breeze. Also contributing to this ease of use is the TV's practically non-existent features list.
Who needs loads of features, though,when you've got a picture performance as generally assured as that of the RZ-14LA60? The main reason for our praise is the TV's exceptional brightness and lustre.
During bright scenes colours leap from the screen and unlike many rival budget LCDs,we're not just talking about the really rich hues, like a channel logo.The vibrancy here stays true across the colour spectrum,even subtle skin-tones.
Even better, this overt brightness has been achieved without totally destroying the TV's black-level response.The surprising lack of greying over dark picture areas or dark scenes lets the RZ-14LA60 add some genuine depth of field and solidity to its surface attractions.
There's a pleasingly direct feel to watching the RZ-14LA60 too, generated by its freedom from almost every sort of picture noise. The only major distraction to come between us and the screen takes the form of that old LCD nemesis, smearing over moving objects.
The RZ-14LA60's direct Philips rival handles this smearing better. While we're in a comparative mood,the Philips' colours are actually slightly more natural and its pictures look slightly sharper and more detailed too. But on the other hand, the RZ- 14LA60 scores more points when it comes to vibrancy and contrast, as well as making less of a meal of hard edges.
However, we're about to run headlong into a decisive bombshell with the RZ-14LA60 in the form of its sonics. Not to put too fine a point on it, the RZ-14LA60's speakers are awful.
The sound they produce is so feeble, so thin and so tinny that it sounds more like the sort of thing you'd find on a portable DVD player than the sound from a TV.What's more, distortions kick in nastily at the slightest sign of volume or a dense soundstage and trebles are horribly over-exposed.
Usually we're reasonably tolerant of so-so audio on small LCD screens - especially ones costing as little as this LG. But the RZ-14LA60's sound is so weedy that it really can spoil your enjoyment of practically anything you watch - be there loud action scenes or not. And so, tragically, a TV that might have tussled with the top guns with its pictures and price ultimately has to be consigned to the level of an also-ran.