Serendipity: finding nice things by accident. I wish it happened more often; it happened to me when I recently visited Comet. To be honest, I wasn't looking for a TV: I'd gone there to look for a cheap laptop, my own seemingly taking forever to be repaired (for the fourth time) by Acer. But, there it was, on the shelf, obviously head-and-shoulders above the rest, and only £170, give or take a penny.
It wasn't a brand with which I was familiar - Venturer. I'm guessing that it is a brand that is exclusive to Comet. But, there it was, in amongst the better known names such as Toshiba, Sony, Sharp, Proline, Goodmans... The picture on the screen was detailed, which is more than you can say of most 19" LCDs, especially on the fairly dodgy aerial feeds you tend to find in most electrical stores, and the colours accurate. It even looked good.
Turning to the technical specification I was surprised to find a contrast ratio of 4000:1. This is exceptional: most 19" TVs are around 500:1 with the odd example stretching to 1000:1. It has both analogue and digital Freeview tuners. But, the thing that really attracted me to it was that it also has a built-in DVD player. And all for a smidgeon under £170. Serendipity!
We have been using an old Matsui 15" CRT TV in the bedroom for years, more recently fed by a MiCO Freeview set-top box. The performance was hardly sparkling and many of the buttons on the TV's remote control no longer worked. It was certainly due for replacement or, at least, consignment to the guest bedroom.
The Venturer took no time at all to set up. Although having a much bigger screen than the old TV, it took up much less room overall on top of the chest-of-drawers where the old one had lived. Plugging in the aerial and the power lead, I switched it on. It entered the usual set-up procedure that you find with new TVs, and I left the defaults as they were. It then entered the station search function and in no time at all it had found all the usual suspects, analogue, Freeview and digital radio.
The performance was excellent and matched everything I had seen in the shop, even on the default settings. I did bring up the brightness a little, to suit the room but otherwise there really wasn't much that needed adjusting. The technical information indicates that the screen is rated at 1440x900 pixels.
The only thing that I did notice and which I find is common with many TVs, is that the range of volume is not great. Even at its loudest setting you could hardly call it deafening. The sound quality is perfectly adequate though. For personal listening, there is a headphone socket round the back.
There are control buttons on the right-hand side of the screen for some TV and DVD functions but, apart from the On/Standby button, most of the control functions would more likely be operated using the remote.
The DVD player works well as well. There appears to be no Eject button on the remote (or I can't find one anyway) so you have to push the button on the side of the TV where the DVD tray is located. It pops out, you load the disk and push the tray back again. The DVD player is fixed to the Region 2 setting and there appears to be no hack to convert it to all regions.
In addition to standard DVDs the set can also play audio CDs and recordable CDs of the CD-R and CD-RW type. It will also play DVDs recorded on a DVD recorder, so long as they are properly finalised. I use DVD+R blanks and it seems to work with those. It doesn't, however, appear to play MP3 CDs.
In addition to the aerial input, in the back there is also an HDMI socket as well as the standard SCART plus a video plus audio input for connecting such as camcorders. Alternatively there is a component video/SCART adapter provided, which you can use in place of the video socket. None of these I have yet used, nor am likely to.
One thing it doesn't have is a PC monitor socket so, unless you have one of the newer PCs or laptops which sport an HDMI output, you won't be able to use this TV as a PC monitor, which is a bit of a shame but not of importance in my case.
Also on the back of the casing is a common interface slot for those of you who also subscribe to such as Topup TV or Setanta Sports.
All in all I have been quite impressed with the Venturer and, for the money it presents almost unbeatable value. Certainly, the specification is outstanding, especially the quality of the picture and sound. I would expect you to have to pay at least £100 and maybe more, on top of this price to get any improvement. For the bedroom, it is perfectly adequate.