* Prices may differ from that shown
After my Sharp TV recently broke, I needed a TV, and as I'm on a tight budget at the mo, I needed something with an interest free option, cheap, decent quality and preferably widescreen. Before buying I was determined to visit every single online store, high street store, Argos, Index etc (which I did!) at first thinking of getting a standard 4:3 TV, as these were cheaper. But the more I compared widescreen and traditional screens in store, the more I preferred the widescreens, it DOES make it easier on your eyes when watching, something I had heard about but never bothered to test I out as I was happy with my Sharp (I will never buy one of them again by the way, every one of the "CS" models that my local TV repair man had seen had gone after 3 years, and cost £200 to repair and took 6 weeks! He was a Sharp dealer but after this no more-you have been warned! And it had been recommended in Home Entertainment Mag as well!) Another factor was that I wanted a dark colour, which proved very difficult, as the current fashion is all things in silver-looks good in store but in my living room? No way, everything is dark or mahogany so a silver TV was ruled out straight away. I actually ordered a 28" Toshiba standard TV from Index for £269.99 as I know they are one of the best when it comes to quality and reliability, but the very next day I found a BLACK, (yes Black) Thomson 28" Widescreen, 12 months interest free (at northern electric) and the price was a silly £299! I had been looking for 4 weeks now and was getting a bit desperate- and the Tosh would have been okish, although I never loved the 28" standard screens as they are just so damned big, especially in my living room which although long, is only about 12 foot wide and the Sharps 25" had been perfect. The 25" standard screens are very rare these days, which is a shame, as I would have been happy with one. Although the 28" widescreens are big, they are not as high vertically. Anyway, back to the Thomson. I had read the other reviews of their TV's here on dooyoo and as they were all rated very highly, I decided it was definitely worth considering. I asked to have a look at the remote as that's the first thing I look at! Its got to be easy to use! Unfortunately after disappearing for about 15 minutes to see if there was one in the stock room, the assistant came back with an apologetic look to say that did not have one at hand, as they only had display models in at that time. I had seen the remote of another Thomson in Argos though and decided it wasn't horrendous. Also, in the time he was gone it gave me good chance to judge the picture and play with the sound, both of which were excellent. I compared with other TV's (Sony, Hitachi etc) and found the Thomson to be as good, certainly in picture quality. I couldn't resist the price and ordered one there and then. £299 for a 28' Widescreen by a decent manufacturer was unheard of, certainly to me anyway. And it was BLACK! It now sits smoothly in my living room, blending in easily with everything else; it is simple in design, just 4 buttons on the front and quite minimalist. In use Its easy to set up, just switch on, connect your cables and follow the onscreen menus, Auto set up is not totally automatic though like some TV?s which tune in as soon they are switched on for the first time-but this wasn't a problem for me. The TV has 2 scart connections as standard, as well as sockets for SVHS Video, Camcorder, Headphone and left and right audio connections. Ok well the first thing I noticed about this TV is just how good the picture is-its excellent, I'm no TV purist but its very, very good. I have a cable box, video recorder linked up (took me hours to set up mind, all those wires and cables), and the picture is great. I do notice that the cable picture is somet imes lighter than the normal terrestrial TV but this is due to the actual signal coming from the cable not the TC, and can be altered anyway using the various picture presets available. Or it may be the scart cable which is only a bog standard one. More expensive cables can be bought for around £15-20 that are supposed to improve the quality should you feel the need. I don't! You can choose to view in various modes, standard 4:3 (box shaped) with borders at the side, Zoom1 for pictures in letterbox format centred on the screen, another Zoom1 this time for pictures in letterbox offset to see subtitles, and Cinerama, which fills the widescreen with a 4:3 picture. Its easy to move between these options using a simple press on the remote, although they could have had a zoom 2 rather than two zoom 1's! As well as this there are various PRESETS (Film, Voice, Flat, Music, Standard, Personal) within which to choose from. I find them pretty useless- either too bright or dark, so I stick to the standard preset or the "personal" one, which as you guess can be customised using contrast, colour, sharpness, brightness etc to get you one perfect picture. The Sound is good rather than fantastic. Like the Picture mode, you have various presets, between mono, nicam, nicam surround, and within that you again have various presets to play between (Film, Voice, Flat, Music, Standard, Personal). I againfound these to be mostly useless, the best ones are personal and standard, that?s all you will need. On personal you can alter sound based on bass, treble and various settings between those two. As channels broadcast at different volumes, you can choose an option for the TV to normalise the sound when you switch between channels or between cable and normal TV/Video, so that you don't get a shock. My Sharp was a surround sound TV and the sound was fantastic anyway so I may have been spoiled. The output is supposed to be 20 watts per cha nnel although when the auto volume feature is on you seem to have to turn it up much higher to get the required volume. If the option is turned off then it does sound louder generally/goes louder than before. If there is one small criticism its that the bass on some programmes can cause the speakers to vibrate a little, the speakers are not huge, quite slim and I think they could add a little bit more to them, but hey we are talking minor quibble here on a sub £300 28" widescreen! It's perfectly adequate and of course I had the bass on max so this may have been a cause! There is also a feature called programme guide which tells you the info on a program, start time, finish time etc, as well as the programmes for the next few hours-its similar to looking at the TV pages on teletext and is where it gets the info from, but its clever all the same. It didn't work on channel 4 for some reason, it did ask for the teletext page for ch4 which deals with TV info but it wouldn't find it, mind you it did say in the instructions that its channel dependent. From here you can make a list of programs that you want to watch or record. (You need a "nexTView-Link" Video for it to record using the TV remote.) It's basically a memo system where you can get it to display a reminder that a certain program is starting. The TV has on and off timers too which I haven't yet used. The remote is actually better than I had expected. It's a nice size, shortish and fat, comfortable in the hand. Controls are easy to use, the TV Program and Volume Buttons are raised in an arch so you can feel where they are without needing to look at them. The other buttons are easy to find and use after a few days of use. What else is there? The TV has Fastext as normal these days, and that?s pretty much it, but what a package it is. For under £300 this is an absolute steal, I highly recommend it especially if you need a black widescreen TV!!!! You could spend almost twice as much and still be disapointed after seeing this!