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I guess you could argue that the pay off for the F2620LVD's backlight issues is that its pictures are unusually bright for such a small LCD TV. But for me and anyone else who ever watches a film or good drama from time to time, the severe black level issues have pretty much already killed off this TV's chances.
Especially since, as is often the case, the F2620LVD's disappointing black levels prove pretty damaging to dark colour tones, leaving them looking unnatural and muted.
This issue with dark colours is exaggerated, too, by the way colour tones spring to actually quite dynamic life during predominantly bright footage. For a classic example of this extreme difference in action, compare the dark scene in the jungle at the start of trusty Blu-ray favourite Casino Royale with the bright ‘free-running' sequence shortly after it. While the first scene looks horrible in colour (and contrast) terms, the second is quite an enjoyable watch thanks to its vibrancy and vastly more natural appearance.
Now that I've kind of slipped into vaguely positive territory, another factor contributing to the ‘enjoyable watch' of the Casino Royale HD sequence is the picture's surprising sharpness. The set really can deliver a sense of HD (versus standard definition) better than some much more expensive small-screen TVs we've seen.
The Ferguson's clarity is also much less blighted than expected by LCD's classic motion blur issue. There are definitely traces of it, especially with standard definition, but it's seldom really distracting, and certainly never as bad as with any of the other three ‘supermarket' TVs I've looked at recently.
Having mentioned standard definition back there, I have to say that while standard def sources are translated to the F2620LVD's HD Ready resolution without much noise being added, they also tend to look rather soft and undetailed, at least with Freeview broadcasts.
Things look a little better using the built-in DVD player, presumably on account of the higher quality of the source material. And it's nice to note, too, that the DVD deck doesn't seem unduly prone to MPEG blocking noise or twitching.
But enabling me to finish on the sort of negative note the F2620LVD really deserves is the set's audio. As is so often the case with cheap, smallish LCD TVs, there's precious little bass in the soundstage, a fact which means male voices commonly sound too thin while action scenes sound flat and one-dimensional. There's no great definition to the soundstage either, though at least the set delivers its trebles without making them unduly harsh or sibilant.
This budget Ferguson couldn't be any more of a mixed bag. With bright, colourful, high quality sources, it's really not bad at all, raising hopes of the tidy all-rounder I've been longing for throughout my intermittent Credit Crunch TV review series. But unfortunately things fall apart so disastrously during dark scenes that the TV becomes at times borderline unwatchable.
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