If you ask us, going for a 14in, 17in or even 19in screen for use in a kitchen, bedroom or study doesn't really make a lot of sense any more. When it comes to the TVs in our main living rooms, most of us seem to have caught on to the fact that because flat TVs can be pushed right back to a wall we can actually get away with a rather bigger screen than we could have tolerated in the old CRT TV days. So why not apply the same logic to second room TVs?
I have personal experience of a number of friends and acquaintances who've got themselves a really small LCD TV only to find that it's either not big enough (on account of its screen being further back than would be the case with an old CRT portable) or not bright enough to really enjoy watching.
Furthermore, my own experience of reviewing TVs also suggests that you can get generally much better picture quality from 26in and bigger TVs than you tend to get from sub-20in TVs. So now that 26in models aren't even all that more expensive than many of their smaller brethren, why not check out our 26in round-up below and see if there isn't one that fits your bill.
Price: £350 More info: Goodmans Size (on stand): 711(w) x 493(h) x 200(d)mm Weight (inc stand): 7.7kg Native aspect ratio: 16:9 Claimed max contrast ratio: 800:1 Claimed max brightness: 500cd/m2 Connections: One HDMI input, component video input, two Scarts (one RGB), composite video input, D-Sub PC input, S-Video input, stereo audio inputs, tuner input, CAM slot, headphone jack
As you'd expect with Goodmans, the main appeal of the LD2661HDFVT lies firmly on its price tag. Which reads, remarkably, just £350. Crikey. Surely such a jaw-droppingly cheap TV can't actually be any good, can it?
It's certainly rather cheap to look at, with its imagination-free rectangular shape and lightweight finish. Plus it loses out to all of its rivals today by only sporting a single HDMI socket. But then with the best will in the world, we guess anyone wanting to spend as little as £350 on their TV will probably not have many digital sources to connect to it anyway. You do, at least, get a PC input so the TV can double up as a computer monitor, which makes its price seem even more remarkable.
Not surprisingly there's precious little worth talking about in the LD2661HDFVT's feature list, other than, perhaps, the fact that it's got an HD Ready resolution of 1366x768 - something we certainly wouldn't have taken for granted at this sort of price point.
But it probably won't surprise you too much to learn that the LD2661HDFVT is definitely the weakest performer of our 26in quartet. Its bad points comprise some pretty uninspiring black levels that show dark scenes with lots of greyness washed over them; colours that tend to look a bit washed out and unnatural; rather thin, feeble audio; and noticeable evidence of LCD motion blur.
However, it's not all bad news. Bright scenes look surprisingly dynamic and vibrant, there's a likeable amount of sharpness to the TV's rendition of high definition sources, and standard definition pictures are pretty well presented too. And even the problems we described arguably aren't so bad that you couldn't live with them in return for the money saved on the Goodmans' price.
Amazingly cheap, fair performer considering its price Minus points
Only one HDMI, black levels could be better, motion smearing
Price: £550 More info: JVC Size (on stand): 672(w) x 471(h) x 230(d)mm Weight (inc stand): 19.5kg Native aspect ratio: 16:9 Claimed max contrast ratio: 12000:1 Claimed max brightness: 450cd/m2 Connections: Two HDMI inputs, component video input, two Scarts (both RGB), composite video input, stereo audio inputs, tuner input, CAM slot, optical digital, audio output, stereo audio output, headphone jack
Although its rather over-fussy design doesn't get JVC's 26DA8BJ off to the best of starts, it does at least seem to have a respectable set of specifications. For instance, it provides two HDMI inputs, a component video input, a decent contrast ratio of 1200:1, an HD Ready pixel count, a digital tuner, and even JVC's acclaimed DynaPix HD image processing engine.
This is not the very top level of DynaPix in JVC's current range, but it still contains processing elements for improving sharpness, reducing video noise, optimising contrast, and managing colours. The only disappointing thing about the 26DA8BJ's specs - and a potential deal breaker for some people - is its lack of a PC input.
As we'd hoped, the DynaPix system helps the 26DA8BJ's pictures look at times outstandingly good. Particularly mesmerising is how amazingly sharp and detailed pictures look, as the set renders precisely every last pixel of high-definition material, but also makes standard definition sources look crisper than usual.
Also catching our eye are the 26DA8BJ's colours during bright scenes, as they're rendered with quite spectacular intensity and vibrancy. This helps bright pictures look solid and three dimensional, and is a million miles from the dull efforts of most smaller LCD TVs.
But while the 26DA8BJ's pictures can at times be spectacular, they do fall down rather when showing dark scenes. This is because the TV suffers with LCD's old problem of not being able to show a convincing black, leaving dark scenes looking washed out and flat. This problem also impacts the toning of some colours during dark scenes.
With some decent audio to round things out, the 26DA8BJ is ultimately that most frustrating of things - a TV that excels in most areas, but has much of its good work undone by a single, glaring flaw.
Very sharp picture, good colours during bright scenes, fair feature count Minus points
Black levels are average, colour tones can go awry during dark scenes, no D-Sub PC feed