TEAC is quite an unusual company — it has high-end audio cred and produces AU$10,000 CD players, but it releases budget EVERYTHING ELSE! TEAC has been making combo televisions since the days of the VCR, and the LCDV3253HD is a natural progression from this. It's a 32-inch TV with a DVD player and USB slot on-board, but how does it shape up?
You know what? For a TEAC television this actually isn't too bad looking. TEAC, whose catchphrase is the rather meek "Take a look at TEAC", experiences uncharacteristic bravado when it claims that "the exterior finish to this television is second to none". We're sure that Samsung and Sony have something to say about that one. However, the LCDV3253HD is quite attractive in its piano black suit with silver piping.
Despite our initial impressions with the TV, the remote control goes and fouls everything up. We suppose they had to save money somewhere, and this beige horror is it. While everything works, all the buttons look like mosquito bites and feature very small text. The Play controls are also very small and poorly marked.
Some good news — the DVD drive is removable, so that if it breaks down you don't lose your TV if the DVD player needs to go back to the shop.
Looking through the specifications, the LCDV3253HD features a 1366x768 resolution and is capable of displaying a 1080p signal. To further boost the TV's HD capabilities it boasts a high-def tuner and three HDMI inputs. The TV also features an analog tuner if you're unlucky enough to live in a non-digital area, or plan to travel to one with this TV.
As to be expected from a budget television, the contrast ratio is a little low at 1,500:1, but the pixel response time is rated 6.5ms, which means there should be minimal image smearing in fast moving scenes.
Unlike TVs at three times the price, the TV also includes a Personal Mode, which is good for storing your personal settings after calibration. This is helpful, because we found the preset modes were pretty horrible. The set-up menu itself is quite simplistic with only Aspect Ratio and NR Yes/No to choose from, in addition to the usual contrast, sharpness and brightness controls.
The DVD drive supports all the usual DVD standards, but it was a little tougher finding out what formats the USB input covers. We were able to glean MP3, JPEG and MPEG-4 (DivX) from the manual, but even then this was reticent and not pushed as features. TEAC didn't pay DivX royalties perhaps?
We've had mixed experiences with TEAC products in the past, but the company's televisions have usually represented decent value for money. While we weren't expecting very much, the TEAC surprised in some areas but was also left wanting in others.
In general, picture quality was decent for a TV at this price point. Black levels weren't quite inky, but provided decent amounts of contrast. However, the edges of the screen did tend toward dark purple instead of consistently black, definitely a backlighting issue but there was none of the "clouding" or blotching effects we've seen on other TVs. Though the TV features noise reduction it can't be claimed to be anything special. Activating DNR actually resulted in ghosting artefacts, and we found it was better left off, though there were some minor ghosting still.
DVD players, for instance, are pretty much as good as they can get at the budget end of the spectrum, and we were vaguely impressed by the performance of the TEAC's on-board unit. While it suffered from some colour problems even after calibration — blacks appearing as dark blue, for example — detail was good and jaggies almost non-existent. Running the TV through our test disc, King Kong, we found the TV/DVD combo was capable of natural colours and natural blacks.
The DVD/USB combination unit wasn't without its problems however, and we found the DVD section to be quite fussy. For starters, the DVD transport won't enable you to insert a DVD without forcing it unless you set the TV to DVD mode. Further, the DVD/USB button on the remote doesn't let you toggle between either input — you need to press the Source button and cycle down to DVD first. Also niggling was the fact that English subtitles were turned on by default when playing a DVD and it took some effort to turn them off. Conversely, we found that the USB input worked quite well, and was able to replay DivX movies, albeit with some ghosting.
We hooked up a Sony PlayStation 3, and found that we needed to tweak the unit quite significantly to get a good picture. The set was way over-sharpened, and an already noisy Blu-ray such as Mission Impossible III looked like the master print had been left on the banks of Vesuvius during an ash storm. In summer. However, after rejigging, 1080p movies were a relatively judder free experience and quite enjoyable.
More problems occurred once we kick-started the HD tuner into action. Though the TV features the ability to reproduce HD TV, there were some problems. While we found no jaggies on DVD, there were scaling problems with HD free-to-air — and jaggies were quite prevalent.
But it was in sound that the unit really fell down. While you can replay MP3s on this TV, no-one would ever want to — sound quality was pretty bad, with boomy vocals and an almost total lack of high frequency information.
As far as convenience is concerned, the TEAC LCDV3253HD offers a good deal of features, but doesn't really offer what we consider of utmost importance — performance. Particularly in the sound department. However, we've seen this TV go for under a grand and at this price it's not a bad deal — especially if you're looking for something simple for a kid's room, caravan or holiday house.