- Review Price: £469.94
I have a love-hate relationship with television. Shows such as Scrubs, Stargate, South Park and The Simpsons provide me with great entertainment that I don’t think I could do without. However, having to sit down in front of the TV at a particular time in order to catch them, is an annoyance and I always have an appetite for “just one more”. The biggest problem with that, is that when the show ends, there is a high chance you’ll just end up watching whatever comes on next, or channel surfing until you find something else. You’ll later ask yourself why on earth you watched a special on the correct way to fold trousers. If you’re not careful television can waste away entire evenings and weekends, when you could be doing something considerably more worthwhile, like folding trousers (learn by doing!).
Media Center, DVDs and Internet downloads have really helped in this area – to stop you getting caught up in television’s warm, glowing, warming glow. By scheduling the programs you want to watch, buying them on DVD or just downloading them (legally of course), you can watch the stuff you want, when you want, without being suckered into wasting your whole evening.
When I was a lot younger, I remember watching quite a lot of TV. But as soon as I had a computer in my room, I soon stopped watching it and started programming (yeah, I’m a geek). If you’ve ever tried this, you’ll soon forget about TV altogether and wonder why you ever watched it in the first place. But watching a few select shows is a much healthier way of going about things, so naturally I want a decent TV to watch it on.
HDTV has been a much talked about technology and we’ve been trying our best to help you along with your purchasing decision, with a considerable number of TV reviews and Riyad’s excellent HDTV demystified piece.
The television I’m looking at today is the 26in Relisys RLT26AG20. I’ve been testing this over the past few weeks in my bedroom, replacing my archaic 21in fishbowl of a TV.
To look at, it’s sleek – I really like the way it looks. It has a small footprint and is also wall mountable. A number of visitors that got as far as seeing my bedroom commented “nice TV” without even seeing the thing switched on. Not that I’m one for status symbols, but it obviously has some street cred.
The switch-out took barely any time at all. So before I did, for old times sake I watched some videos on the CRT for comparison. Upon moving to the Relisys the first thing I noticed was that the colours were no where near as vibrant and the blacks were pretty poor – this difference was startling, in fact at first I started to miss my trusty CRT. This is a common complaint of cheap LCDs. With a contrast ratio of 550:1, this is not surprising at all, as this is a pretty poor ratio. Ideally, you want around the 1000:1 mark.
The viewing angle on this TV is acceptable, but I’ve seen a lot better. The wider the angle, the worse the contrast ratio gets, and that’s pretty noticeable on a panel that has poor contrast in the first place.
The panel’s native resolution is 1,366 x 768. So although it will support a 720p input, it will have to scale it slightly. That said, this is a pretty standard resolution on all HDTVs bar the yummy 1,920 x 1,080 models. Getting this to work at its native resolution via a PC was trickier than I was hoping. Both ATI and nVidia cards can only support resolutions that are divisible by eight, of which 1366 is not. So in order to get this resolution working, it required a little bit of fiddling that wasn’t instantly obvious. On my 7800 GTX, this involved running 1,368 x 768 and then changing the front-end resolution in the advanced timings portion of the drivers to 1366 – this effectively chops of a pixel row on either side. In ATI drivers, this involves using PowerStrip. Hopefully both companies will sort out official support for this resolution in future drivers.
Connectivity on this TV is excellent. HDMI, S-Video, Composite, Component, 2 x SCART and D-Sub.
Using our office Media PC, I initially tested with HDMI. It worked fine, although I did notice that the uniform desktop background did demonstrate how patchy the colour was on this LCD display – yet more indication of a cheap panel in use. I then tried this using a DVI to HDMI adapter cable on a different PC. This is where the Relisys came undone, as there is no option to select an analogue audio source to run alongside a digital input. So if you are expecting to use DVI, you’ll probably have to settle with component instead. If you get good enough quality cables though, you probably won’t notice much difference.
The speakers are acceptable, but nothing special. So you can always send the audio to a separate set of speakers, as I do – thus avoiding the DVI to HDMI conversion issue as well.
I had no problems with the Scart or S-Video connections, and changing between them on the remote control was pretty easy, with a dedicated button for each as well as a general menu for selecting which you wanted. The OSD was also easy to use, with the option of a transparent background to the menus, should you find that easier for calibrating colours.
Being a TV, and not a monitor – it has a TV tuner – but this is analogue. This does leave your options open, as you might want to use a Media PC, or you might want to just use your current Freeview set top box. To take advantage of its High Definition capabilities, you’ll need some HD content, such as an Xbox 360 or Sky HD.
Unfortunately even when feeding the Relisys high definition content, the weaknesses of the panel were aparent. The colours lack punch and vibrancy, but yet still fail to look in any way natural. As already mentioned, the black levels are extreemly poor, so much so that black doesn’t really exist on this TV, just shades of grey. In fact, the picture quality on this Relisys reminds me of LCD TVs from three years ago, when manufacturers had not quite figured out that television viewing was far different to computer signal viewing.
At least the remote control is easy to use and felt comfortable. There are also buttons on top of the device that can be locked out using the remote control – ideal if you want to make sure your children don’t go fiddling.
The panel used is this TV is substandard. Contrast is poor, especially when viewed at an angle, and colours are patchy. It’s true that the more you watch it, the less you start to notice this issue, but that’s just a case of getting used to something that you shouldn’t have to. Realistically, when you are spending £469.94 on a television, you expect the image quality to be superior to your old unit, and on this Relisys it isn’t.
Panel quality aside, everything else about the unit is great. It’s easy to control and there is more than enough connectivity for the size. A separate audio input while using HDMI would have been nice, but as mentioned – there are ways around this issue. Ultimately though, when there are TV’s like this 32in Evesham for only £599.99 including VAT, this Relisys is hardly worth considering.
Score in detail
Image Quality 5
Sound Quality 7
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