The CE22LD94DV carries a digital tuner despite its size and price, and this comes with all the usual electronic programme guide features. A trawl through the TV’s onscreen menus, though, reveals that there isn’t really very much else to occupy us; just a set of picture presets, and an audio ‘effect’ that uses processing to widen the soundstage. Woo.
Aside from the fact that the DVD deck can play DVD+R/RW and CD/CD-R/RW discs as well as standard DVD video discs, the only thing standing between us and getting down to business with the CE22LD94DV’s pictures are the rest of its screen and specifications beyond the HD Ready pixel count.
A claimed contrast ratio of 1000:1 is pretty tidy by the standards of budget small LCD TVs. It’s not bolstered by any dynamic backlight activity, but then dynamic backlights are seldom found on other small-screen LCDs, either. The screen’s 5ms response time is also respectable for such an affordable screen, leaving as the only potential fly in the ointment a claimed screen brightness of just 200cd/m2. Hopefully this won’t stop pictures being driven off the screen with plenty of vibrancy.
The first thing I noticed about the pictures was actually a negative concerning that 1,680 x 1,050 resolution. For while this might be well suited to PCs, it definitely causes some slight stretching of video images. Newsreaders’ heads look slightly elongated, and footballers all look a few inches taller. While this is unfortunate, though, I personally didn’t find it quite as big a deal breaker as it probably sounds. Partly because the stretching effect is slight, and partly because oddly you sort of get used to it over time. And once you have got used to it, you’re free to acknowledge the fact that in other ways the CE22LD94DV is actually pretty good.
Motion, for instance, is very credibly handled. While watching some of the Paralympics in HD on BBC HD, I was really struck by the way the athletes weren’t as ‘blurred out’ by LCD’s response time issues as I would have expected at the CE22LD94DV’s price and size point. The problem didn’t really increase to any great extent when I switched to standard definition, either.
Another surprise is the depth of the TV’s black level response. The below-ground mining sequences in There Will Be Blood on Blu-ray actually look quite dark, without being totally ruined by LCD’s grey clouding effect. There’s even – shock, horror – a passable amount of the shadow detailing that gives dark scenes a sense of scale and stops them looking like black holes ripped out from the rest of the image.
We should stress that we’re not talking here about the sort of black levels you’ll find on most plasmas or a few of the best big-screen LCD TVs. In fact, they’re not even as good as those of the 19in Sharp and Toshiba LCD TVs we’ve seen recently. But once you’ve taken its price and built-in DVD player into account, they really do shape up pretty well.