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In most ways, the 26V4000's pictures are every bit as accomplished as those of the 37V4000. Particularly impressive, again, are the screen's black levels and for my money the 26V4000's dark scenes look only slightly less convincing than those of the 37V4000 in terms of how free they are of LCD's traditional grey misting problem. Even better, this relative freedom from greyness also helps the 26V4000 reproduce decent amounts of subtle greyscale and shadow detailing in all but the very blackest of corners, which in turn gives dark scenes a sense of three-dimensionality that's really rare in the small screen world.
Good black levels are often accompanied by rich, vibrant colours, and this is certainly the case with the 26V4000. The harbour-side scenes as Captain Jack makes his memorable first appearance in Pirates of the Caribbean thus look exuberantly dynamic and gratifyingly solid, keeping your eyes riveted to the action to an extent that's very rare in the small-screen world.
Even better, the 26V4000's colour tones are exceptionally natural for such an affordable TV, even when you're watching standard definition. Or, at least, decent quality standard definition; with really poor quality fare, such as a showing of an early episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on the frequently very grubby-looking Virgin 1 channel on Sky, a few strange skin tones and anaemic background hues can occasionally appear. But this is true of pretty much any other small screen TV I can think of, and actually the Sony suffers less with the problem than most.
The 26V4000 also makes standard definition pictures look sharper than most affordable 26in TVs, too. The set carries Sony's impressive Bravia Engine video processing system, and this appears to pay great dividends when it comes to upgrading standard def material to the screen's HD resolution.
This same engine also does a nice job of downscaling the UK's 1,920 x 1,080 HD sources to the screen's 1,366 x 768 resolution. The Pirates of the Caribbean Blu-ray, for instance, still looks HD despite the relative smallness of the 26in screen, thanks to the presence of more detailing, edge definition and colour accuracy than you'd see with even the very best quality DVD.
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