Roadstar LCD7114 £120

30th Sep 2006 | 23:00

Roadstar LCD7114

Watch telly on the move with Roadster

TechRadar rating:

3 stars

The Roadstar doesn't even achieve the most basic goal of displaying a good image

Like:

<p>Smooth set-up</p>

Dislike:

<p>Awful pictures</p>

This budget 7in LCD TV's instruction manual boasts the tagline 'entertainment on the move'. Let's see if the Roadstar's performance matches its claims in a crowded portable market. The Roadstar is a grey and sturdy-looking affair with an adjustable stand, built-in speakers and telescopic aerial. Features are thin on the ground, as only the mirror image button, sleep mode and a basic game are worth mentioning. There are also four viewing options: aspect ratios of 4:3 and 16:9 (widescreen), and normal and zoom modes.

The Roadstar comes with a rechargeable battery pack (no batteries supplied), earphones, mains power adaptor, AV cable, remote, external aerial adaptor and a car adaptor that plugs into the car's cigarette lighter.

As we expected, connectivity is basic, with only an AV (composite video and stereo audio) input socket providing link-up to an external device, like a DVD player - not exactly the best quality signal. But in all fairness, the Roadstar's modus operandi should be to provide good quality analogue pictures on the move: unfortunately it falls at the first hurdle.

Getting things up and running is admittedly smooth. The basic instruction manual is easy to negotiate and the onscreen menus simple yet responsive. Using the supplied external aerial adaptor, channels took a couple of minutes to tune-in using the auto tuning facility. This analogue TV can tune up to 256 channels, but we just tuned in the UK's five standard ones.

And results weren't good: pictures are just about watchable but with real room for improvement. A portable TV is at the mercy of its reception area. Yet, pictures are poor even with an external aerial! This doesn't auger well for the Roadstar's on-the-road picture performance.

Poor show

With the external aerial, the pictures need rectifying from the initial tune-in: sadly, there's not much you can do to improve the picture. Watching the news on BBC1, blacks are a grey mush; colours are too bright and flicker; the brightness adjustments aren't sensitive enough; there's motion smearing in abundance; skin tones look lurid - unfortunately, the list goes on.

Things get even worse when you use the TV's telescopic aerial: pictures deteriorate even more, signals fluctuate and the picture breaks up. Couple this with its speakers' sibilant and tinny sound, and you've a disappointing viewing experience on your hands.

Which makes us scratch our heads at the point of cheaper portable TVs. If it's unable to deliver decent pictures using an external aerial, then what is the point of a TV that's targeted for in-car entertainment that produces nearly unwatchable pictures on the move? The Roadstar doesn't achieve its most basic goal, and in doing so, doesn't even get off the starting blocks.

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