Sagem Axium HD-L26-TP £1000

30th Apr 2006 | 23:00

Features galore

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Iif you're looking for an affordable TV that delivers features galore, this Sagem has to be considered

Like:

<p>Good motion handling</p><p>Connectivity is impressive</p><p>Excellent colour range and tone</p><p>Built-in HDD PVR</p>

Dislike:

<p>HDMI-fed stuff can look noisy</p>

First off, this Sagem looks a million dollars. The black screen surround is glam, while the matching speakers built into either side finish the job nicely. However, those speakers do make the HD-L26-TP quite large by 26in LCD standards.

Connectivity is impressive. For starters there are two HDMI inputs - a future-proofing touch precious few other 26in TVs currently share. Also great to find is a digital audio output (there lest Freeview should start broadcasting Dolby Digital soundtracks), a PC input; component video inputs, and even a USB port for taking JPEGs from an attached multi-card reader or USB key. There are only two Scarts, however.

The HD-L26-TP earns HD Ready status by adding a 1366x768 pixel count and 720p/1080i compatibility to its HD connections. Next there are two built-in digital tuners. Why two?

Because remarkably the L26 also carries a built-in HDD PVR, so having two tuners lets you record one digital channel while watching another (though you can't record two at once). Happily you can set recordings for the PVR simply by selecting them from the Freeview seven-day EPG.

You can record up to 40hrs of programming on the 80GB HDD, with recordings made using MPEG2 at a healthy 15Mb/s. Note, though, that you can only record the digital tuner, not the analogue tuner or any AV inputs.

Unleashed on our test DVD of Troy, the L26TP proves a highly capable though not flawless performer.

The set's colour range and tone, for starters, is excellent, delivering colourscapes with aplomb. Skin tones also look really natural by 26in LCD standards. The picture does a good job of reproducing the fine detailing, and fast moving scenes aren't plagued with any serious motion smearing.

Elsewhere, black levels are quite profound by LCD standards, achieving something at least approaching true black during dark shots.

However, these deep black levels do look rather hollow thanks to a lack of subtle shadow detailing. Also, their impact is reduced by the highly reflective finish of the screen, and by faint pools of backlight spillage visible in all four corners of the screen during particularly dark scenes.

Finally on the downside, we found you have to watch the TV with the brightness settings slightly lower than you might ideally like to stop HDMI-fed stuff looking noisy.

Getting back to the good news, the pictures from the PVR are universally excellent, being practically indistinguishable from the original broadcasts. Audio, too, is impressive by 26in LCD standards. Admittedly, it only really comes to life at high volumes, but the L26's power, finesse and sonic range when pushed hard are admirable.

Overall then, while its pictures might only be good rather than great, if you're looking for an affordable TV that delivers features galore, this Sagem has to be considered.

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