Heading into the onscreen menus, the way they’re presented sitting across the centre of the screen rather than down the side can be irritating if you’re trying to watch something at the same time as you’re using them, but overall they’re reasonably attractive and pretty sensibly organised - with one or two notable exceptions!
The first of these exceptions is the way the tuning menu is placed at the top of the main menu. This makes no sense at all given that once you’ve first set the TV up, you’ll hardly ever have to revisit the tuning again. Second, it seemed bizarre to us that a couple of key picture controls, the backlight level adjustment and the aspect ratio controls, were found in an Option menu rather than within the normal picture adjustment menu.
Among the features found in the onscreen menus, as well as the previously mentioned backlight adjustment and SRS TruSurround HD audio, you get a series of picture presets and a noise reduction system. But that’s about it.
Heading for the L26DVDB11’s DVD capabilities first, things didn’t get off to a great start when the disc slot stubbornly refused to even think about taking in our Pirates Of The Caribbean DVD until we’d first not only chosen DVD from the TV’s long onscreen input list, but also pressed the tiny ‘disc accept/eject’ button on the remote.
Many other combi TVs are clever enough to take in a disc as soon as one is presented to their slots irrespective of what input you’re watching, and will switch to the DVD ‘channel’ automatically. This is clearly a much better approach, especially for anyone after a combi TV that a youngish child might be able to operate by themselves.
Also troubling about the disc-loading mechanism is the way you have to load the discs with their rear (playback) sides facing you, rather than the printed side as you would normally expect. And then there’s the quite horrible creaking and groaning noises the DVD section makes as it slowly - oh so slowly - drags your disc in. Basically, there’s nothing about the L26DVDB11’s DVD section that inspires any confidence at all in its longevity.
The picture quality the DVD section produces once the disc is finally playing has its moments, but for the most part is pretty average. Its strengths are that it produces colours quite vibrantly, with the blues and reds of the British soldiers popping off the screen surprisingly well for such a cheap TV.
Skin tones are decently natural for a cheap TV too, avoiding the typical budget reddish or orange tones. The DVD images look quite detailed and passably sharp too, with LCD motion blur not causing quite as many softening woes as we would have expected.
Perhaps the biggest relief, though, is the fact that there’s no obvious trouble from either grain or MPEG decoding noise.
On the downside, the screen’s black level response is very average indeed. This means that all dark scenes look washed out and short of shadow detailing, and it can also cause some colours during dark scenes to lose the naturalism enjoyed during bright scenes.