Just as well, then, that its design is definitely not the AT2358ML’s only selling point. Going back to its edge LED lighting, we should stress that edge LED TVs consistently out-perform CCFL-lit LCD ones in terms of brightness, colour and contrast, so we have hopes that the edge LED system in the AT2358ML will deliver more than just a svelte design and a little power consumption saving.
Also jumping out at us from the AT2358ML’s spec sheet is its full HD resolution - something that’s by no means a given on a set just 23in across. Then there’s the presence of a satisfactory two HDMIs, a D-Sub PC port to enable the TV to double up as a PC monitor, and a USB port able to play back multimedia files in MP3, JPEG and even video flavours. Rather startlingly, it also turns out that this USB port allows you to timeshift TV programmes from the built-in Freeview tuner to supposedly any USB pen drive or external HDD.
The fact that we managed to record from the standard def Freeview tuner to pretty much every USB device we had lying about the office really emphasises just how limiting Panasonic’s current ‘one-brand’ approach to USB recording really is. Especially as you’re free to remove the Acer’s recordings for playback on portable devices - something not permitted with most rival recording systems.
It’s unlikely, of course, that this latter video freedom would have been possible if the AT2358ML had an HD tuner and could record HD broadcasts. But it doesn’t and it can’t, so you’re free to go.
Despite not quite living up to its designer billing as dramatically as we’d hoped, the first time the AT2358ML actively puts a foot wrong is with its remote control. This is a very plasticky, lightweight effort that makes some slightly odd choices when it comes to the placement of some of the key buttons.
The onscreen menus are rather better, being sensibly organised and reasonably nicely designed. Some people might find their text a bit small for comfort, but this should be solved by, um, just moving a bit closer to the screen.
It’s no great surprise given the AT2358ML’s price and size to find it lacking in pretty much all image processing bar a basic system for rescaling standard definition material to the full HD screen. But there are one or two tweaks of note within a rather optimistically named ‘Advanced’ picture submenu, namely a series of noise reduction options, an impressively flexible backlight adjustment, a fleshtone adjustment, and the facility to turn on or off an auto contrast system. These latter tools are, of course, commonplace in the large-screen TV market, but they’re not a given at the sub-26in level.
It doesn’t take long watching the AT2358ML in action to start feeling as if it hasn’t made the most of its edge LED lighting potential. In fact, in many ways pictures look pretty similar to what we’d expect to see on a straight CCFL LCD TV.