First impressions are promising. For the 26DE9B sports JVC's decent DynaPix Plus image processing engine, with its traditional focus on colour management, contrast enhancement and rescaling images to the TV's native resolution more cleanly.
The only problem with DynaPix Plus is that it's not as potent as JVC's high-end DynaPix HD, which means the TV can't handle the 1080p/24 sources natively placed on the vast majority of Blu-ray discs. In other words, you'll have to set your Blu-ray player - if you're lucky enough to have one in a second room! - to output something slightly less ‘pure' like 1080i instead.
The 26DE9BJ's native resolution of 1,366 x 768, meanwhile, may disappoint Full HD obsessives. But it would, of course, be very difficult to cram 1,920 x 1,080 pixels into a 26in screen space, much less appreciate the differences between Full HD and HD Ready playback at such a screen size.
There's a further ‘excuse' for the HD Ready resolution, too: the 26DE9BJ's Freeview+ talents. After all, Freeview channels are only broadcast in standard definition right now, so it actually makes sense for the TV to use a resolution closer to that of standard definition broadcasting, since this will place a reduced burden on the TV's upscaling processors.
The 26DE9BJ's connections prove a bit underwhelming. For starters, it only manages two v1.3 HDMI sockets when its 32in sibling gives you three. Plus it also lacks a D-Sub PC port for computer use. As a result, while you may be able to connect a PC to the screen using an HDMI if the PC is set to the screen's native resolution, the usual computer flexibility offered by pretty much every other TV around today is sadly missed.
Aesthetically the 26DE9BJ is OK, but not much more. For while its design is slightly retro (in a good way), its finish feels a little flimsy.
Other little bits and bobs of note include a Flesh Tone adjustment, multi-level noise reduction processing, and backlight tweaking as well as the more typical brightness and contrast alterations.
In action, for much of the time the 26DE9BJ does exactly as we'd hoped it would, outperforming Toshiba's cheaper 26AV505DB. In fact, there are moments where the 26DE9BJ's pictures are actually pretty spectacular. These moments invariably occur when the image content is predominantly bright, such as with your average daytime scene in an Xbox 360 Viva Pinata garden, or your average daytime TV chatshow.
For instance, with such bright, colourful sources the intensity of the picture in terms of colour saturation and raw brightness is quite outstanding for such a small screen, giving it the sort of visual impact many 32in TVs struggle to match.
Colours also tend to be reasonably natural in tone, and even those that aren't can usually be improved to a respectable level by the handy Flesh Tone feature. Sure, there's occasionally a touch of colour striping you wouldn't see with a TV that had more powerful colour processors and contained more resolution. But this problem is so seldom noticeable that it hardly counts as a problem at all considering how many features the TV has for its price.