The non-HD, non-wide-screen 20.1-inch diagonal TV isn't designed to anchor a home-theater system; rather, it's intended for the kitchens, bedrooms, and dens of DirecTV households. Unlike an old tube set, this flat-panel model is thin enough to fit anywhere--it's 16.5 inches high by 24.25 wide by 7.25 deep. The depth drops to 3.5 inches if you opt to mount the LD2060 on the wall--it takes just a minute to unscrew and remove the attached plastic stand. The stand also pivots slightly up and down, so you can adjust the vertical viewing angle a bit.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the LD2060 looks similar to any other LCD flat-panel you'll see--which is to say, pretty nice. The screen is ringed by a black border, while the stand and nonremoveable side-mounted stereo speakers are silver. Controls are split along the top and bottom edges: nine satellite control keys on the top side, five TV controls--volume, input, power, and settings menu--below. Of course, you'll never have to touch those controls, thanks to the Humax's unified remote. The well-designed clicker puts all the satellite and TV controls within reach. A slider on the remote toggles its controls between the built-in satellite receiver (such as scrolling through DirecTV's onscreen programming guide) and the TV itself (picture and sound adjustments and so forth); it can also be programmed to control two other A/V devices, such as a DVD player or VCR.
Getting the Humax LD2060 up and running on DirecTV was about as easy and straightforward as we could hope. Because CNET's New York office has an existing DirecTV subscription, we just popped the RF coaxial cable off our existing box and screwed it into the back of the Humax TV. After sliding the included access card into the slot on the side, a quick call to DirecTV customer service had us up and running in less than five minutes. (You'll be charged the same for using the LD2060 as you would for adding a standard DirecTV box to your account--so if you're replacing an existing box, it's a wash.) All in all, the LD2060 delivers an experience that's all but identical to a standard DirecTV receiver--you have access to the same onscreen guide and basic functionality that you'd get with a standard satellite receiver, as well as access to all of the same channels in your package--excluding any high-def ones, that is.
The Humax isn't going to compete with larger and more expensive TVs in terms of picture quality, but it does offer a basic complement of picture controls, including four picture modes (dynamic, mild, standard, and movie) and five color-temperature presets (two warm and cool settings each, plus a baseline "normal"). We didn't bother with a full calibration, opting instead to eyeball the basic picture-control settings (tint, contrast, color, sharpness, and brightness) on the Warm 2 preset. As to be expected with an LCD, black levels were lacking. We also noted a bit of red push, but edge enhancement wasn't overly pumped up, and off-angle viewing was better than average for an LCD. In other words, picture quality was resoundingly fine on DirecTV programming and DVDs--the same that we'd expect from other non-HD LCD panels of this size and native resolution--640x480.
The LD2060 also offers a "="" rel="follow">vertical compression mode, so you can see the full resolution of anamorphic DVDs at their proper aspect ratio. What was annoying, however, was the lack of independent input memories: if you customize the settings for watching DVDs or video games, for instance, you'll need to readjust them when you return to the DirecTV programming.
If you want to use the LD2060 to watch only satellite TV, just two wires need to be connected: the power cord and the satellite line. (Add a standard telephone wire to the equation if you want to take advantage of any of DirecTV's pay-per-view offerings.) Thankfully, though, the Humax isn't a one-trick pony: It has three other A/V inputs--one component and two composite--so you can connect as many as three other video sources. While that will certainly introduce more of the wire clutter that the integrated satellite receiver is designed to avoid, the flexibility to add, say, a DVD player, a VCR, and a game system will certainly be welcome for anyone building a mini-entertainment center. A single set of A/V outputs lets you record your DirecTV shows to a VCR or a DVD recorder, though anybody used to a TiVo or other DVR will lament the dearth of a built-in hard drive. Furthermore, if you buy the LD2060 and subsequently decide to dump DirecTV, the additional inputs guarantee that you'll always have a usable flat-panel monitor--you can hook up a cable box or even a Dish Network receiver to any of those inputs. Interestingly, the component inputs accept 480p and 720p/1080i high-def sources. But given that they're all scaled to the LD2060's 640x480 native resolution--and the fact that it's a small 20.1-inch screen to begin with--there's no big advantage to using HD video sources. Likewise, you won't find any DVI or VGA inputs on the LD2060, but the low-res screen wouldn't be conducive to doubling as a PC monitor anyway.
While there's a lot to like about the Humax LD2060, it's worth remembering that it's designed to appeal to a fairly small segment of the market: DirecTV viewers looking for a small, no-fuss, flat-panel television. At its original $700 price tag, the lack of wide-screen aspect ratio, high-definition display, PC monitor support, and a built-in DVR were all the more glaring.) By comparison, 20-inch LCD TVs from no-name and top-tier manufacturers are readily available for less than $400.) But Humax has since dropped the list price of the LD2060 to $600--with online pricing coming closer to $549. That makes this TV a much more palatable buy, and it's a big reason we're not grading it more harshly.
If you like the idea the of the LD2060 but want to hold out for an HD version, stay tuned: Humax is planning to release a 32-inch wide-screen LCD flat-panel HDTV with a built-in high-def DirecTV tuner in the fall, though pricing has yet to be set. In the meantime, if you're a DirecTV viewer looking for a no-hassle second television--and you can find it at a discount--the Humax LD2060 is certainly worth your consideration.