Toshiba Regza 26C3030DB
Toshiba's excellent Regza brand of LCD HDTVs - ugly name - has received a welcome shot in the arm recently with a full revamp, from which we have chosen the soon-to-be-released C Series 26in baby of the bunch - the perfect TV for your kitchen, bedroom or study.
A great looking, but unpretentious design has won plenty of Regza fans, and while we prefer a little more statement in top-end behemoth models, its plain black livery is perfectly suited to the smaller end. Wall or stand mounted, it's a subtle and versatile option sure to suit any room in the house at a great price that's not yet confirmed but should be around the £500 mark.
Two HDMI ports are in attendance for hooking up the necessary Sky HD and next-gen disc player, and sit alongside the usual connections options, including component-video, two Scarts (one RGB) and PC input. There's also a built-in Freeview digital TV tuner, which is surprisingly crisp and clear.
Like most TV manufacturers, Toshiba boasts a veritable smorgasbord of image processing technologies, in this case the pick is called Active Vision LCD and it certainly does its job to good effect. The 20W SRS WoW sound system is also very meaty for the TV's size, with a clear and concise soundstage, meaning a separate speaker set-up is in no way necessary for decent second-room movie viewing.
The inclusion of all this technology is very welcome on a set of this size, and while there are some minor glitches in picture and sound performance in comparison to top end models, they are barely noticeable and without consequence on the 26in display.
Hitachi is best known as a dependable middle-range manufacturer within the TV market, and the 37LD9700 sits at the top of its line-up, but still comes in with a wallet-friendly price tag of under a thousand clams.
Style-wise the Hitachi is a decent-looking set, though suffers in comparison to some of the more aesthetically minded like the Philips or the Loewe. It's well-built though, and not too big thanks to that bottom-mounted speaker. Plus it has a motorised remote control stand, which always impresses our mums.
There's a good range of well-ordered connections, with two HDMIs, three Scarts (two RGB), component-video output, and VGA for hooking up your PC. A USB and SD card slot on the side let you view photos and the like.
Hitachi claims the 37LD9700 has one of the widest viewing angles for any LCD TV - 176° visibility apparently - and it showed, with a picture that remained vibrant and well defined from all angles.
Once you're back in front though, there are endless picture tuning options to have a play with adjusting everything from backlight strength to colour temperature. It all combines to create an excellent visual experience, if you feel like a little tweaking.
The Hitachi is an LCD TV, which immediately renders it far more energy-efficient than its plasma-orientated nemeses. This means it's friendlier to the environment as well as cheaper on electricity. The 37LD9700 is one of the most efficient LCDs currently available too, using 150W when switched on and only 1W in standby - significantly less than many of its rivals.
Err, and what happened to the Sharp XE1 Series??? Probably the best image i've seen on a "mid range" LCD yet....
A really important test is missing
A problem with nearly all modern LCD and Plasma TVs is hooking a PC to it... they won't accept the full resolution... And the hilarious Overdrive, which is still incoporated in most TV sets and even switched on when watching HiDef material over HDMI....
These reviews are just waffle
I found these reviews completely pointless as no real effort was made to say how well the sets performed with different types of material. For instance, how does each set cope with interlaced input when compared to a CRT (the majority of LCDs are laughably bad at this), what is the colour perfomance, how do the sets cope with shadow detail, etc?
Really, all LCD tests should also run up the set next to a decent quality CRT and comment on the differences - without exception, a CRT will wipe the floor with any current generation LCD, we just need to know how big a quality drop we're in for!
Do some better research
Good article apart from the glaring screwup:
"A quick(ish) game of Gears of War at the recent Sony European showcase proved as much."
So Sony were showing off a flagship Xbox 360 title at their showcase were they?
no, the real question...
... is which sets actually were capable of 24 bit color? I have yet to see an LCD or plasma that can, that is over 24" - and isn't a computer monitor. What a crock, paying so much for a set without that capability.