Grundig GU22DVDBLK television review

3 out of 5
£299.99

For

TV's onscreen menus and EPG, Freeview quality

Against

DVD/digital media interface, audio

With the big brand's engineering talents usually confined to producing big, brash - and thoroughly expensive - flagship TVs, it's often worth poking around the more affordable brands if you're looking for the perfect "second" TV for a bedroom, kitchen or study.

Grundig falls into that category, though the slim, gloss black GU22DVDBLK has a novel extra feature up its sleeve in the shape of a side-loading DVD player. That, of course, restricts its slimness, though it's actually very hard to find anything at this size - and, especially, price - that's slim, or has an advanced spec (Sony being the main exception).

Tuning-in Freeview channels on the TV itself is easy and quick, thanks in part to a delicious onscreen menu system that's as good looking as it is useful. Better still, digital pictures contain just enough contrast and plenty of colour to help make the GU22DVDBLK seem a good value TV on these strengths alone.

OK, so its 3W speakers aren't great, but they deliver enough in the way of bass and treble detail to give dialogue-based fare on TV the power to impress.

In short, the GU22DVDBLK gets away with its weaknesses by offering a sturdy package, but that all falls apart when you use the remote control to put the set in DVD mode. Firstly, it spits out a lot of DVDs. When it doesn't, picture quality is acceptable - especially if the GU22DVDBLK is going to be used in a bedroom - but that's where the good news ends. The main problem is that discs take a long time to load, while proceedings aren't helped by a bare bones menu system that's completely at odds with the glossy, understated and excellent digital TV interface.

Basically, the DVD drive has been bolted on; it's a completely separate device whose only relationship to the TV is physical. Worse still, the GU22DVDBLK's notable digital media boasts all hinge on this same interface. It's highly possible that some will be attracted solely by the GU22DVDBLK's digital media talents. If so, it's time to look away now, because even though this set does have a side-mounted USB 2.0 port alongside a memory card slot that can accept SD or MMC types, its performance with them both is thoroughly disappointing.

Once inserted - and after a 30-second wait - you're presented with an ugly, low resolution - and almost illegible - root file list that skips over any format it cannot play. And, sadly, that's almost everything; we only managed to get an achingly slow slideshow of JPEGs to display, and a couple of WMA music files to play. Don't let that ruin your impression of the GU22DVDBLK because, if you're not going to shove in USB sticks and memory cards, its failure with them is irrelevant.

But it may be worth holding on for a while if you're after something small; with digital switchover now complete in much of the UK - and the recession continuing to bite - the market for second sets like this Grundig is on the increase. As such we're likely to see more svelte designs sporting extras like Freeview HD tuners, though arguably such an innovation would be a waste at this small size.

The built-in DVD player isn't going anywhere, though you can blame burgeoning sales of PlayStation 3s for that particular idea not having progressed to an integrated Blu-ray player. Despite its rough edges, Grundig's GU22DVDBLK makes for a fair value effort that will suit plenty of consumers after a basic Freeview telly.

Verdict

This 22-inch LCD TV with built-in DVD puts in a thoroughly respectable performance with Freeview, though it could hardly be called a polished affair; some weedy sound accompanied by some very rudimentary, low-resolution onscreen menus seriously take the edge off, while its compatibility with digital media files is very limited.