The 26DE9BJ’s pictures are also exceptionally sharp – with standard as well as high definition. This standard def sharpness, together with the decent reining in of the sort of video noise that characterises many Freeview broadcasts, really shows the worth of DynaPix Plus.
The DynaPix Plus system does not, however, include any 100Hz style processing. Which means I spotted inevitable signs of motion blur and occasional judder during the full tilt action of Gears of War 2 or ”Terminator 2” on Blu-ray. However, here again the 26DE9BJ actually suffers less with resolution loss over motion than many small-screen rivals in the same rough price ballpark.
Turning my attention to the 26DE9BJ’s recordings, the news is also good. For as I’d anticipated, the all-digital recordings look pixel for pixel identical to the original broadcasts. And, aside from the fact that making and viewing recordings is well-handled by the remote, that’s really all that needs to be said about the 26DE9BJ’s digital recordings.
Overall the 26DE9BJ teeters on the edge of diving into a ‘TrustedReviews Recommends’ scenario. But it’s sadly pulled back from the brink at the last second by a single irksome flaw: average black levels.
This issue is particularly acute when you first turn the TV on, at which point it has its Dynamic picture preset active. Dark scenes look flat and covered in distracting blue-grey mist that can be so bad it actually alters the otherwise likeable colour tones being reproduced during bright scenes.
Thankfully you can considerably improve this situation via some judicious tweaks of the TV’s onscreen menus; ie, choosing the Standard preset and turning the backlight to Medium rather than high. You can make things even better still if you’re also willing to spend time with the set’s brightness and contrast balance.
However, even in their improved state the 26DE9B’s black levels can only really be considered pretty average. And matters aren’t helped by the fact that the set has a rather limited viewing angle.
Sonically the 26DE9BJ is good by 26in TV standards, with decent levels of volume and clarity for such a small screen. That said, there’s not much bass to speak of, and the TV lacks the potency, range and clarity of the 32in 32DE9BJ – probably because that latter TV boasts more raw power (20W) and an oblique cone speaker design that the 26DE9BJ does not.
So-so black levels prevent the 26DE9B from being a truly irresistible second-room option. But the Freeview+ functionality works well and is nicely integrated into the TV’s operating system, while for some – maybe even much – of the time the set’s picture quality is very likeable indeed. All of which makes its sub-£500 price tag look reasonable after all.