Usually, LCD TVs with built-in DVD players will have you fumbling around in search of the elusive, side-mounted DVD slot. That's hardly ideal, especially if you've got your TV mounted on a wall. But LG's 22-inch, HD Ready 22LU7000 LCD TV brings the DVD player around to the front, where you can easily get at it. It's available online for around £300.
Cool or clunky?
The front-mounted DVD player has a dramatic impact on the 22LU7000's appearance. Below a fairly normal-looking, 22-inch screen, tidily finished in a high-gloss black, there's a startling angled foot that houses the DVD player and juts out by about 45°. Whether you find this design cool or clunky is a matter of taste. But making the DVD tray so easy to access is a definite stroke of genius.
Despite its bulk and protruding DVD tray, the 22LU7000 can still be mounted on a wall. In fact, the TV is at its most appealing when hanging on a wall, as the angled prop that you have to slot in to make the TV stand up on a table looks rather clumsy from certain angles.
As we'd now expect of any new TV, the 22LU7000 has a built-in Freeview tuner too. It also supports JPEG and MP3 playback via both its disc tray and a built-in USB port.
We were initially disappointed to find that the 22LU7000 offers an HD Ready, 1,366x768-pixel resolution, rather than a 1080p one. On reflection, however, opting to make the screen's resolution 'Full HD' would probably have pushed the price higher than is sensible for such a product. Plus, DVDs are standard-definition by nature, so the 1,366x768-pixel resolution isn't as much of a stretch for the TV's upscaling processing.
Despite its small size, the 22LU7000 sports a dynamic contrast system able to deliver a claimed contrast ratio of 8,000:1. This doesn't sound much when compared to the figures of hundreds of thousands -- even millions -- often bandied around in the large-screen TV market. But it's actually quite respectable by the standards of sub-26-inch screens.
Inconsistent picture quality
The way in which the DVD player's cover slides open from the centre, like a pair of curtains, is undeniably appealing, even though it makes some noise and feels rather plasticky. Playback quality is good -- neither the digital decoders nor the mechanics of the disc tray appear to contribute significant noise or twitching to images. Also, we couldn't hear the disc spinning, even with the TV on mute. There's slightly more grittiness than you'd get with a high-quality stand-alone DVD player, but the 22LU7000's deck is as good as you've any right to expect from an affordable combination unit with such a unique design.
The TV's picture quality is a mixed bag. Its biggest strength is the way in which it manages to upscale standard-definition sources -- especially DVDs -- to the set's HD Ready resolution. We were struck by how sharp and detailed images look, even on a screen as small as this. Furthermore, the TV doesn't particularly exaggerate noise in standard-definition sources during the upscaling process, although we'd say in this regard that the better the source image, the more effectively the 22LU7000's upscaling system responds.
The picture is also pleasingly bright for such a small screen, delivering enough potency -- even when the backlight and brightness levels are reduced to boost black-level response -- to be perfectly effective in a conservatory or kitchen. You're certainly not restricted to putting the set in dark environments like a study or bedroom. This brightness helps emphasise the TV's sharpness too.
We were quite taken with the vibrancy of the 22LU7000's colours as well. Together with the set's brightness, the colours contribute to a vivid, eye-catching image that holds your attention unusually well for such a small screen.
While colours are very vibrant, though, they can also be inconsistent, particularly in dark parts of the picture. In fact, during our tests, we often found bright parts of a particular picture exhibiting really pleasing tones, while people standing in the shadows of the same picture could look far too red or orange.
We also found the 22LU7000's black-level response rather hit and miss. During generally bright scenes, dark parts of the picture can look pretty punchy. But predominantly dark scenes suffer from a pall of greyness. Even worse is that the set exhibits a degree of backlight inconsistency -- extra brightness is apparent all around the picture's edge. During normal TV viewing, this backlight seepage isn't a problem. But many of our favourite films are full of dark parts.
The 22LU7000's motion presentation isn't particularly consistent either. Much of the time, we found ourselves enjoying an action film without being disturbed by LCD technology's classic motion-handling issues. But just occasionally, especially with low-quality Freeview sources, some really overt blurring could set in, if only for an instant.
Given its movie-playback credentials, we hoped that LG might have put extra effort into the 22LU7000's audio. But, although the set doesn't sound bad -- it can even handle action scenes with a fair amount of clarity and minimal distortion -- it lacks the power and bass response to totally involve you in what you're watching. It's hard to think of a small TV that does any better in this regard, though.
The LG 22LU7000 is let down by a few performance issues. But it has plenty to offer those seeking a combination TV that's practical rather than fiddly.
Edited by Charles Kloet