It doesn’t help, either, that the set’s black level issues worsen and backlight levels become quite inconsistent if you have to watch the TV from an angle.
Not surprisingly, this same problem is also abundantly apparent when switching to Blu-ray playback, immediately and severely hampering the set’s ‘cinematic’ potential. Also quite quickly clear with HD sources on the L26DVDB11 is that they don’t look much sharper than DVDs. Obviously a 26in TV is never going to be as good at showing standard def vs HD differences as a much larger TV, but even so there’s something notably non-HD about the L26DVDB11’s HD pictures.
As a further concern, the set struggles to show motion effectively with 24p sources, suffering quite noticeable stutter and judder - to the extent that we ended up switching our Blu-ray player into 1080p/50Hz mode.
On the upside, colours still look punchy during bright scenes, and brightness levels are quite high.
Given the built-in DVD deck, of course, it’s pretty unlikely that many of the L26DVDB11’s buyers will be playing Blu-rays into it anyway. But our Blu-ray tests more or less match the way the set handles more likely HD sources like Sky HD/Freeview HD set-top boxes, and PS3/Xbox 360 console games.
Talking of gaming, while the L26DVDB11’s punchy colours and reasonable freedom from motion blur and acceptable (if hardly world-beating) 4ms of input lag are helpful gaming attributes, its lack of black level and shadow detail counts against it if you're playing predominantly dark games like Dead Space 2.
Turning next to the TV’s Freeview picture performance, there’s more disappointment in store. For oddly the set’s colours take a dip with relatively low quality material, looking less consistent and becoming oddly washed out with some hues. Freeview pictures look a bit soft too, presumably because the set’s processing for upscaling Freeview to the native HD resolution isn’t up to much. Motion blur is more obvious during Freeview viewing too.
Despite all this, though, the L26DVDB11’s standard def pictures are still perfectly watchable. They’re just very average.
So we come to the SRS TruSurround HD audio. And actually, this isn’t bad at all. Or to put it better, while there’s never the slightest hint of any surround sound audio effects, there certainly is more power and range to the L26DVDB11’s sound than we’re accustomed to hearing from sub-32in TVs - especially cheap ones. There’s a slightly artificial and muffled feeling to the sound during potent action scenes, but for the most part this set is sonically a cut above most of its rivals.
The L26DVDB11 just about does enough with its features - especially the built-in DVD player and USB multimedia talents - to make it worth considering as an ultra-affordable and flexible option for a teenager’s room or a study. It sounds better than most small LCD TVs too. But a rather soft look to pictures together with some black level response shortcomings ultimately stop it from being anything more than average.