Bush LCD14DVD £500

1st Jan 2005 | 00:00

Bush bargain that's hard to beat

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Not exactly a catwalk model, but it certainly delivers plenty of bang for your buck

Like:

<p>Price</p><p>Pictures often</p>

Dislike:

<p>No PC input</p><p>lack of black level</p><p>chunky design</p>

There's no point in denying it, we Brits can't resist a bargain. Whether its budget flights to Madrid for £4, Channel ferry crossings for £1, DVD players for £30 or even the contents of the bargain bucket in Woolies, it's difficult to say no when there's a saving to be had.

It's for this very reason that the likes of Goodmans and Bush provide no nonsense products that are just as capable of doing the job as their more expensive counterparts, yet need not necessarily break the bank. Take the LCD14DVD as a prime example; a spunky looking LCD screen with a built-in DVD player all for £500. Cynical sods that we are, we wonder where the catch is.

Aesthetically, it looks like a budget offering. It's almost hilariously chunky by modern LCD standards. Indeed, you could almost imagine that Bush has simply bolted a full-sized DVD player sideways down the back of the screen! The silver finish is also muted and plasticky, with only a funky, angling desktop stand adding any signs of design pizzazz.

Connectivity is also hardly world beating. That said, the RGB Scart, two composite video inputs, stereo audio inputs and coaxial digital audio output - for shipping raw Dolby Digital and DTS bitstreams to surround-sound decoders - cover most of the biggies. It's a shame there's no PC input, though.

Features are understandably limited. Aside from the fact that it's a cheap 14in LCD TV with a built-in DVD player, there's just JPEG playback and a x3 zoom feature on the DVD deck to catch your eye.

Setting up and using the LCD14DVD is a mostly painless experience. Although a touch cluttered, the remote control is sensibly laid out and intuitive. The only problem comes with the TV's onscreen menus, which are hard to read from any sort of distance.

Pretty as a picture

The LCD14DVD's picture quality is actually rather good. For starters, it's enjoyably bright, letting light, vibrant and colourful scenes radiate forth with none of the muted appearance seen on so many other budget models. Praise, too, must be heaped on the way that even during fairly low-lit scenes, colours look completely natural.

Fine detail levels are perfectly adequate too, with edges neatly contained, and there's plenty of texture and shading. This helps give images decent depth of field and plays a key role in the LCD14DVD's very presentable DVD performance. The DVD deck itself, meanwhile, seems pleasingly untroubled by the common (on budget models) blocking or twitching problems caused by poor MPEG decoding. It would, however, be too much to hope for it to be totally glitch-free at this price.

One particular concern is that the black response rather flatters to deceive. In other words, while dark parts within generally bright pictures fit in quite well, when dark picture parts are in the majority, the picture suddenly flattens out dramatically - as grey misting covers what should be blackness, hiding background details in the process.

The other problem is that movement does have a worrying tendency to look a bit smeary. To be fair, though, we've seen worse efforts and some on screens costing substantially more.

The LCD14DVD's sound is none too shabby, considering the inevitable restraints posed by its price and the physical space available on a 14in LCD unit. The key problem is that there's practically no bass at all, which inevitably takes much of the impact out of a good action scene. But the set doesn't distort too much. Even at serious volumes it manages a decent amount of treble detail, keeps dialogue clear and even delivers a bit of width to its soundstage.

All the signs suggested otherwise, but the LCD14DVD has confounded our expectations at almost every turn, leaving us ultimately pleased that such a great little bedroom/study/kitchen device can now be had for so little.

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