The idea behind pairing a LCD TV with a DVD player seems obvious, but for some reason it’s never caught on beyond the budget brands. And while Toshiba does tend to be most successful at the "value" end of the market, it’s the only major brand we know of that offers combi TVs – and the gloss black (or white) 26DV615D is its biggest and best.
The disadvantage of integrating a DVD player is that your flatscreen could become a fat screen, and while that is certainly the case with the 26DV615D’s 227mm depth, 26-inch LCD TVs in general don’t tend to be much slimmer.
Joined by 19-inch and 22-inch versions in Toshiba’s DV61 range, the 26DV615D has both analogue and digital tuners, a HD-ready resolution LCD panel (1366 x 768 pixels), a couple of HDMI inputs and a PC input – though with only 720p capability we wouldn’t recommend the 26DV615D as a PC monitor. Also on its rear is a brace of Scarts, a set of Component video inputs, Composite video, PC audio, analogue audio ins and a coaxial digital audio output.
That brings a lot of possibilities, though the nicest touch is that the RF aerial - surely the input you’re going to be using if the 26DV615D is used primarily in a bedroom or study - is hidden behind a plastic hood that has a small nook to poke the cable through. Tidy.
If the DVD player - accessed through the TV’s left side panel - brings the 26DV615D some impressive versatility, it’s got more to offer than just disc spinning. As well as purchased DVDs, the drive can play DVD-R and DVD-RW discs containing JPEG photos, MP3 music and even DivX video files.
And it does this pretty well, thanks in part to a superb remote control. Crowded, maybe, but the buttons are nicely sized and placed and includes full control of the DVD player.
Picture quality is fair - we noticed enough softness and feathered edges to suggest that there’s scant upscaling going on - but it’s not just about convenience. Eject the DVD straight from the remote and switch to Freeview and the experience is similar; pictures on BBC One are rendered cleanly with plenty of well-saturated colour.
Its 10W speakers downfire from just below the screen’s frame, and prove a major improvement over smaller TVs; virtually all screens around the 22-inch or under (the next size down) can only manage a couple of watts. It’s a huge step-up and supplies both speech-based TV and DVD movies with an extra dimension, with a surround mode not exactly succeeding, but giving the soundstage more width.
One aspect of the 26DV615D that does grate is its incoherent operation - completely different interfaces for the DVD player, EPG, digital tuner set-up and picture settings do contribute an often confusing user experience that will irritate less tech-savvy users. If you can get past that, the 26DV615D delivers with great value pictures and sound.
Arguably, it’s time combis had Blu-ray drives built-in – something that’s available elsewhere, but has never come to market in the UK. In that case you’d need a Full HD screen, but for now the 26DV615D’s HD-ready panel and built-in DVD player does a marvellous job for any small room in the grip of switchover – and at a tempting price.