You can put a flat-panel TV pretty much anywhere, and because of their diminutive size they make ideal TVs for bedrooms, studies and even kitchens. Obviously, you won't be wanting a 40-inch LCD for the kids' bedroom, but something a little smaller might fit the bill.
Enter the Humax LGB-19DRT, a tiny 19-inch TV with some interesting special skills that are likely to interest people in the market for a useful second TV. At around £300, it's expensive for its size, but do the features add up to good value?
The 19DRT isn't the most beautiful TV we've ever seen. Humax has decided to mount it on a stand that houses the speakers. This is good for speaker performance, but pretty poor for aesthetics. Still, it's not a monstrosity and for the places it's going to end up, such as bedrooms and studies, we doubt there are going to be hordes of interior-design experts flocking around it, tutting and stroking their goatees.
There's a distinct lack of any controls on the front of the TV, which means you're reliant on the remote. Humax provides a pretty large, easy-to-use controller with a clear layout, and surprisingly sensitive buttons.
At the rear you'll find a bunch of the usual connections. There's basically one of everything, including VGA, HDMI, Scart, component and, at the side, S-Video and composite. On a TV this small, we're pretty certain you won't need many more than this.
The headline feature of the Humax LGB-19DRT is its ability to record to a small external USB hard drive. It's a pretty smart way of adding a record function to a small TV, where building one in would increase the size substantially. Humax hasn't gone to the effort of including a fancy recording system -- you can program recordings via the programme guide, but there's no series link or Freeview Playback functionality.
There's only a single tuner built-in, but Humax has employed its old trick of making it possible to record other channels on the same multiplex (a block of channels broadcast together) as the one you're viewing. This means if you're recording BBC One, you can watch BBC Two at the same time, but not ITV1. Cunning, but not as handy as having a second tuner (which would take up more space, obviously).
The inclusion of both HDMI and VGA mean this TV is very well suited to a study, where it could be connected to a games console or PC and used as a second monitor. It's this flexibility that we think will be the major appeal of the LGB-19DRT.
Given the size of the 19DRT, we're confident in predicting it will commonly be used for games consoles. We hooked it up via HDMI to our PlayStation 3 and fired up Colin McRae's DiRT and were impressed to see the TV reproduce a detailed and colourful image.
The same can be said of movies played via the PS3 from Blu-ray, a viewing of one of the Resident Evil movies -- we don't know for sure which one, but they're pretty much the same anyway -- proved that the TV can handle itself with an HD input.
Freeview picture quality was good too -- at this screen size you don't generally notice the compression artefacts that are common on digital terrestrial. This means everything looks sharp and colourful. A quick viewing of This Morning on ITV1 told us that this TV is very capable -- we also learnt about a cross-dressing man who entertains at parties with his wife.
Sound quality was pretty good. The speakers in this TV really pack a punch for such a small package. We didn't think they produced especially deep and resonant bass, so if you're looking for that, you might want to invest in a separate sound system. For day-to-day viewing though, the sound is clear and the quality good.
The recording functionality is impressive for such a small TV, although it's not as slick as a standalone PVR. That said, it works and once you get used to it, it's unlikely to cause you any problems. You can press the record button on the remote at any time to begin recording.
We do think Humax missed a trick with this TV, however. It would have been easy for it to allow access to the hard drive via a PC, so people could save their favourite TV programmes, or transfer them to DVD or a portable media player. Regrettably, Humax has used a proprietary method of writing the data to disk. We're sure a determined and skilled user could use Linux to get at the files, but it's too much hassle for most of us.
The main problem with the Humax LGB-19DRT is the relatively high price. We think the TV offers some great functionality, but we're not sure if it will suit the pockets of many people. That said, if you have £300 to spend, this plucky little TV will keep you satisfied for quite some time.
We liked the LG 32LT75 much more by comparison, and although it's much more expensive, it's also a far larger TV with better Freeview PVR functionality.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide