John Lewis JL22LCDHD television review

3 out of 5
£249

For

Price, onscreen menus, average picture quality

Against

Fat screen and frame, flimsy speakers

Flatscreen TVs are selling in their squillions at the moment, with 10 million sold last year and 7 million predicted to sell before the World Cup - but did you know that over half of TVs sold are under 26 inches?

Big-screen LED TVs get all the attention, but sets like this 22-inch LCD TV sold by John Lewis are not to be ignored. A huge cause of the thirst for smaller screens is the digital switchover, and the JL22LCDHD’s integrated Freeview tuner will instantly digitise your bedroom, study or kitchen.

If a gloss black design and chunky 19cm-deep frame is par for the course at this size (for some reason slim small screen TVs are rare indeed), the JL22LCDHD’s screen resolution is not. Its panel is Full HD, so every pixel from Blu-ray discs and games is on show, though it’s arguable whether you’ll notice the difference on its 22-inch screen - 26-inch is the size where Full HD starts to come into play, in our opinion.

Still, the specs keep coming with the provision of two HDMI inputs on its rear panel alongside a Scart, RF aerial, Component video, VGA, a PC audio jack and even a coaxial audio output for connecting the JL22LCDHD to a home cinema rig. Better still, this set sports a Common Interface slot that can accept CAM and Smart cards to add subscription channels to the good-looking onscreen electronic programme guide.

A bright orange auto tune button adorns the centre of the remote control, which is handy considering that many parts of the UK are going through switchover, where frequent re-tuning Freeview channels can be a real headache for some. Overall the remote control is simple, fast and well designed, though it’s not going to win any prizes for build quality or looks.

A good set, then, for technophobes, but has the JL22LCDHD got anything for videophiles? Digital TV pictures generally hold up well, though channels with low bitrates do suffer from a sheen of blocking and picture noise. Colours are reasonably good, and while dark areas of the LCD screen don’t contain much detail, that’s not a major worry for Freeview viewing.

Attaching a Blu-ray player may seem pointless on a set as small as this, but picture-wise, it’s worth a try. Compared to Freeview, high-def discs look stunning, though they do lack depth. What is a real let down is the JL22LCDHD’s built-in speakers. Managing just 3W, the 4Music and Viva music channels on Freeview lose a lot of their presence - and Blu-ray movies are partially ruined - though BBC News and digital radio is perfectly acceptable. 

Verdict

Its Full HD panel is a selling point only; there’s no need for it in practice, though it doesn’t prevent Freeview looking - if not sounding - reasonably good. Decent colours and contrast paired with excellent usability and design makes this a good value budget set, though those with Blu-ray ambitions ought to upscale in both size and price.