Grundig's new Cinemo range is touted as "plug and play" HD TV, a nod to its ease of set-up with a high definition digital tuner built-into the unit. It is true that watching HD television on it is as simple as connecting the power cord and aerial, but with so many models on the market now with built-in HD tuners, this is hardly a hook that Grundig can claim exclusively.
The Cinemo supposedly sports a "European" design, although it clearly bucks the 2007 trend to all-black colour schemes, instead sticking with a chrome body with only a black bezel surrounding the screen. This makes it look a tad last season to us, but that doesn't mean it's not an attractive television. Indeed, if you are using it with existing silver components, such as a DVD recorder, chances are it will be a better looking match than a purely black set.
The speakers reside in a large grille underneath the display -- the 40-inch Cinemo has 2 x 20 watt stereo speakers on board.
The remote is pretty ordinary, but easy enough to use. Strangely for a rig that touts simplicity, the remote that came with our test unit bore no resemblance to the one in the instruction manual. None-the-less, after a few minutes of button mashing, we were able to drill down into any menu we needed.
It has a standard range of inputs and outputs, including two HDMI ports and composite connections on the side for a camcorder or other peripherals, and as a nice extra touch, the TV swivels on the stand base for adjusting the viewing angle.
You can adjust the speakers left and right, but with a set this size, it's doubtful that you'd want them anyway other than equally balanced. There are also sound defaults of Flat, Movie, Music, Speech and User -- this last setting is the mode automatically used if you opt to activate its TruSurround XT or 3D Echo capabilities.
There are four default picture settings -- Dynamic, Standard, Mild and User, however you can also adjust the picture brightness, colour, contrast and sharpness. Annoyingly, the menu box used to control these settings takes up a large part of centre of the screen, making it difficult to see the impact of the control you're trying to alter, so you will have to open and close the menu box a number of times while you make and check your adjustments.
The Cinemo also includes the standard Picture-in-Picture and Parental control features found on most TVs these days.
Our feedback on the picture performance of the Cinemo 40 is in line with many other mid-range LCDs -- it handles colours vividly, but it tends to murky in black hues. We also noticed another LCD foible; distinct cloudy patches appeared near the corners in dark scenes. On the plus side, it handled fast moving scenes well. Chases scenes in the Blu-ray versions of The Transporter and Casino Royale showed no signs of smearing.
The onboard speakers performed well, until we turned up the volume, which caused an occasional rattling vibration in the grille.
Grundig has enjoyed a strong reputation in CRT televisions, but may be slightly on the back foot when it comes to flat panels. That said, the performance is pretty good for the price point. Similar 40- and 42-inch LCDs with built-in digital tuners from competitors will cost you at least AU$600 more and up.
Note: Grundig also offers the Cinemo model in two other sizes: 32-inch (2 x 15 watt speakers -- RRP AU$1,699) and 46-inch (2x25 watt speakers AU$3,999).