Fortunately, the 22LU4000 fares rather better with its pictures than it does with its sound. HD pictures are sufficiently sharp and detailed that they actually do look like HD, proving yet again that you don’t have to watch a massive telly to gain at least some appreciation of what HD can do. Motion doesn’t lose much resolution when watching HD footage either, which helps keep the impressive clarity levels consistent.
The 22LU4000’s pictures also look much brighter than the 350cd/m2 figure had led me to expect – a feat that becomes all the more impressive when you consider that the image’s lustre is achieved while the set retains one of the best black level responses we’ve seen from such a small TV. There’s only a residual hint of greyness over black parts of the pictures rather than the full-on bank of mist so commonly seen on small LCD TVs. This additionally helps dark scenes enjoy more natural colours than the dark scenes of most rival TVs, as well as allowing the TV to portray more of the subtle shadow detail information that helps to give dark scenes depth.
More good news finds colours looking more subtle in tone than the 8-bit processing had me anticipating, and they’re reasonably vivid in tone, too, within the context of the set’s size and price.
In fact, put all the good points about the 22LU4000’s pictures together in the presence of a good Blu-ray source, and you might even say the picture looks rather cinematic, preposterous though this might sound when you’re talking about a 22in picture.
The 22LU4000 isn’t as accomplished with standard definition as it is HD, though. Colours generally look less vibrant, the picture is softer relative to HD than I felt entirely comfortable with, and there’s markedly more motion blur to tolerate. None of this prevents the 22LU4000’s standard definition pictures from looking eminently watchable though, especially compared with the blurry, dull, low-contrast nightmares commonly seen on affordable small TVs.
Elegant though the 22LU4000 is, I can’t help but think that the design has required more of a compromise to the TV’s sound than I’m comfortable with – even given the set’s ‘casual’ status relative to the bigger TVs I usually review. After all, if you’re going to make a small TV as surprisingly good at reproducing high definition pictures as the 22LU4000, it seems inconsistent to then make the accompanying sound seem like it’s coming from a completely different – and much cheaper – TV.
Still, while its audio might be weak, typical straightforward TV fodder of the sort that’s likely to occupy a second-room screen for the majority of the time still sounds OK. And when it comes to the rather important matter of picture quality, the 22LU4400 is pretty much on the money.