Sagem HD-L27 £1000

1st Mar 2005 | 00:00

Sagem delivers startling value for money

TechRadar rating:

5 stars

There are small problems with motion, contrast and audio, but these are minor niggles

At 27in, this LCD from home cinema newcomers Sagem is not a big screen. Nor is it particularly flat. Looking solid and well-built with a curved back (don't worry, it's easily wall-mountable), it's nicely farmed in piano black lacquer and would out-shine even the most expensive CRT in your lounge, which brings us to its startlingly low price.

For exactly a grand, this screen proves to be a bargain. Not only is the HD-L27 HD-ready in terms of screen resolution (1,280 x 720), but the hallowed DVI input (which also digitally connects a PC) is HDCP-compliant, so Sky's widescreen HDTV plans are within reach with a cheap adaptor. Other high-def services that do, or will, operate in the 1080i format (such as Euro1080) are scaled down.

Additional connections, which are housed in a panel set into the rear, number three Scarts (two RGB), component video, composite, S-video, analogue stereo inputs and outputs, a headphone jack and a PC audio input. It's also endowed with an analogue tuner, but not Freeview. On the audio side, there are two 12W speakers which output both Nicam stereo and Virtual Dolby sound.

Snap shot

There's an interesting feature in the form of a fully digital channel. Insert a memory card (Compact Flash, Smart Media, Secure Digital, XD Card or Memory Stick) directly into one of two multimedia card slots on the left-hand side and the set transforms into a luxury high-resolution photo album.

Buttons are nicely laid out on the remote, which does the job well and makes changing between inputs child's play. The on-screen menus are nothing to get excited about either, but are impressive in their simplicity.

Surprisingly, considering many of its LCD rival's problems with displaying analogue TV broadcasts, the Sagem makes little fuss of pictures from its on-board analogue tuner. News and studio footage looks at its colourful best, while edges look as sharp as we can reasonably expect from such pictures.

Getting stuck in

However, it's when we ponder the heroic highs of our test DVD, Touching the Void, that things get interesting. The brilliant whites of the mountain's treacherous snow cover are just that, although scenes in the gloom of the craggy ice caves tend to descend into a grey mush: neither contrast levels or the black response of this screen are its strengths. Unlike colours, which are extraordinarily vivid when showing both big sky and our beleaguered hero's colourful clothing.

We would invite you to come on, feel the noise, except their isn't any of any note. What there is, is a slight problem with fast camera pans and motion, but nothing LCDs thrice the price would be ashamed of.

And although this is the minimum size screen we would recommend for watching high-def footage, we're pleased to report that it's here that the Sagem reaches its richly-textured peak. Sadly, the same can't be said for the on-board audio, provided by bulky speakers on each side, which is rather thin and can't conquer the power requirements of more demanding movie soundtracks.

Sagem has created an LCD adept at colour reproduction and picture noise-suppression at the first time of asking. There are small problems with motion, contrast and audio, but these are hardly mountains to climb: expect Sagem's next LCD to be a real belter. Although the official line is that HD screens need to be a minimum of 30in, that a grand not only gets quality, but will also see you through the coming years of HDTV uncertainty makes this a bargain.

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