Once you do manage to get the L423ED11 to cough up its onscreen menus, the first thing that hits you is how basic they are to look at. But the set’s inevitably fairly minimal feature list proves pretty easy to access – so long as the remote’s playing ball.
Among the few interesting features on offer are a quartet of picture presets (including an adjustable ‘personal’ one), a noise reduction system, a pixel for pixel HD picture mode and, surprisingly for the L423ED11’s money, a 2D to 3D conversion option.
Settling down to see what the L423ED11 can do, its budget nature is in some ways immediately obvious. But it’s also clear that the flaws aren’t severe enough to make the TV unpleasant to watch – so long as, at least, you know what you’re getting.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. For starters, watching such colour-loaded material as Sky News, for instance, reveals some quite obvious imbalances in the set’s colour palette, as startlingly vivid and not especially accurate reds appear right alongside some slightly pasty skin tones. The effect is particularly troubling where female presenters are wearing red lipstick, making their lips look almost like separate entities to the rest of them. A fetishist’s dream come true, perhaps, but not exactly what an AV enthusiast would want to see.
There are also some problems with dark colours, which tend to be over-saturated with red or blue, and also lose tonal subtleties, leaving them looking one-dimensional and plasticky. Finally, where colour problems are concerned, the set’s rather average standard definition scaling finds the colour palette becoming ‘crushed’ and over-wrought with all but the highest quality standard def sources.
The other entirely predictable area of weakness for the L423ED11 concerns its black level response. For dark scenes on the set have an obvious bluish-greyness tinge to them, as the set fails to control its backlighting well enough to allow it to produce a believable black colour.
What’s more, if you do attempt to get a convincing black out of the L423ED11 by taking loads of brightness out of the picture, almost all shadow disappears into oblivion, leaving dark picture sections looking like empty black holes.
In fact, so severe is this shadow detail issue that we found we had to push the set’s brightness UP from its ’50’ default setting rather than down, so that while ‘blacks’ looked even less black, at least dark scenes appeared to have some sort of depth and realism.
Another problem raised by the L423ED11’s presentation of dark scenes is the edge-LED nemesis of backlight consistency. There are three or four areas of the picture that look clearly brighter than the rest of the screen during dark scenes – and as ever, this can be distracting.
We said earlier that despite the significant flaws just detailed, the L423ED11 isn’t a total washout. For instance, although colours aren’t always accurate, they are impressively dynamic and punchy for such an affordable TV, combining with an unexpectedly intense brightness output to ensure images are driven out of the screen and into your eye-balls with likable aggression.
As well as helping the set look unexpectedly engaging with bright, colourful content – especially animation – the intensity of the brightness and colours also goes a good way towards fooling your eyes into ignoring some of the set’s contrast shortcomings during shots/scenes that combine a mix of bright and dark content.