Turning to the TV’s DVD section immediately uncovers a couple of (potentially irritating) oddities. First, the DVD slot on the rear left side will only take in discs if you first select ‘DVD’ from the source list; it won’t ‘grab’ a disc at any time and then automatically switch the TV to the DVD input, as you might expect. As a result, the potential for damage to a disc and the TV from a child trying to shove a disc into an unresponsive slot seems disturbingly high.
The other strange thing is that you have to put discs into the slot with their printed side facing away from you, something that runs counter to normality – not to mention common sense.
For the record, I might as well add here that like the TV section, there are no interesting tweaks within the DVD section’s onscreen menus. Oh well; at least all the screen aspect ratio and video format settings have been correctly preset for you, and the deck can play JPEG and MP3 files. Please note, though, that there’s no DivX support.
Happily, the F2620LVD does retain an HD Ready 1,366 x 768 native resolution despite its aggressive price. But that’s pretty much the end of the good news in specification terms, for the contrast ratio claimed for the set is a pretty demoralising 700:1. As usual, this lowly figure reveals that the Ferguson doesn’t carry a dynamic backlight system, which could dim the image’s brightness during dark scenes to boost the perception of black level.
And as is often the case with affordable LCD TVs, the lack of such a dynamic backlight really hurts the F2620LVD. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, its black level response sucks. For not one, but two reasons.
The most predictable of these is that dark scenes just don’t look dark at all, as the screen fails to resolve anything approaching a true black. Instead, it looks like someone’s shining a torch onto the screen, turning black into grey and blotting out large amounts of background detailing in the process.
The other backlight nasty concerns the inconsistency with which the light hits the screen. I spotted numerous vertical stripes down the picture where, for whatever reason, the picture is darker than it is to either side. I counted seven of these stripes on my screen, and to make matters even more distracting, they’re not even of a uniform thickness or intensity. At times the effect looks eerily like ghostly shadows emerging from a bank of fog. Scary. Maybe director John Carpenter will borrow the effect for his next low budget horror yarn.