The only disappointment where connectivity is concerned is that the set only provides a single HDMI when we might have hoped for two. But we’re not going to harp on about this too much given how much else has been thrown in for so little money.
The excellent first impressions – so long as red is your colour, anyway – start to slide a bit when you go about setting the TV up. For a start, its remote control is a depressingly drab, poorly laid out and over-buttoned affair that doesn’t always respond well to button presses. It also reminds us of one of those no-brand, non-specific replacement remote controls you often have to order if you lose or break the original remote from any TV that’s no longer available to buy.
The quite attractive onscreen menus, meanwhile, fall into the classic small-screen TV trap of using text so small that it’s really difficult to read from more than three or four feet away from the screen. Perhaps it’s just as well, then, that straining our eyes to try and see what was on offer failed to turn up anything beyond the usual bog-standard TV options. When the most interesting thing you can find is a basic noise reduction system, you know it’s time to just skip the features and get straight into how the TV performs.
Probably the best word to describe its pictures is ‘functional’. For while they’re resolutely average in just about every way, they just about avoid slipping into below average territory and so arguably do enough within the context of the £200 price.
By far the biggest weakness of the 23-231BR’s pictures is their black level response. Using the factory preset options, there’s practically no sense of blackness at all during dark scenes. In fact, the screen seems to glow at you during dark scenes as it makes little or no attempt to suppress the backlight output in response to the darkness of the images being shown.
You can improve things if you step in and nudge the brightness down to around the 38-39 level, though don’t for a minute expect to end up with anything like the plausible black level response now found with increasing regularity on many other, usually more expensive small-screen TVs.
Going lower than the 38 setting, by the way, starts to crush out grievous amounts of shadow detail, and so isn’t a route we’d recommend you follow.
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