Life has become much trickier in recent years for store-exclusive brands like Matsui, Beko, Technika, Goodmans and Orion. After all, traditionally these brands have made their mark just by being exceptionally cheap, so they’ve struggled to make themselves seem as desirable in the face of plummeting prices from the big AV brands.
It hasn’t helped that precious few of these ‘second-tier’ brands have been able to deliver much quality compared with what the likes of Samsung, LG and Toshiba have offered for not much more cash.
The Dixons/Currys group has high hopes for its latest in-house effort, though. Sporting the Logik brand, the £250 L26DVDB11 sports a 26in screen, an integrated DVD player, a Freeview tuner, and most unusually for a cheap, small-screen TV, a promising audio feature in the form of the SRS TruSurround HD system.
The L26DVDB11 is not the first small TV to promise whizz-bang sonics, though, and in the vast majority of previous cases such promises have fallen distinctly flat. So we’ll certainly have to reserve judgement. However, the SRS TruSurround HD system tends to one of the better ‘pseudo surround’ audio processing systems around, so our hopes for the L26DVDB11’s audio are at least marginally higher than usual!
An investigation of the L26DVDB11’s connections reveals more good news. For as well as boasting three HDMIs where we’d normally only expect two (at best!) on such an affordable combi TV, this Logik set also carries a D-Sub VGA port so it can double up as a PC monitor. Plus it’s got a USB input capable of playing video (MPEG 1/2) and music (mp3) files as well as the more predictable JPEG photos.
Even more remarkably, the USB port can also be used to record programmes from the set’s Freeview tuner to USB storage devices - a feature normally reserved for relatively high-end TVs. This feature can additionally be used for pausing live TV. Excellent.
Rather less excellent, though, is the L26DVDB11’s design. For while its extremely glossy black finish isn’t horrible, its angular lines are rather straightforward, its rear end sticks out a country mile versus most of today’s LCD TVs, and the build quality is distinctly plasticky.
Such a TV design would normally be partnered with an utterly basic remote control. But actually the one with the L26DVDB11 initially seems quite superior, thanks to its pleasingly large size, reasonably sensible button layout, glossy finish, and rather fetching metal-effect ‘rocker’ circle at its centre.
However, it fairly quickly becomes apparent that the effective operating distance and angle of this remote is somewhat limited, and that the buttons for the DVD playback are pathetically small and tucked away amid a host of other buttons, making them a chore to use even in a bright room, never mind in a room darkened for movie viewing.