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Grundig GUVL1500 review

Grundig makes a cautious return to the UK market

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Our Verdict

Grundig's return to the UK TV market is as far from triumphant as it's possible to get.

For

  • Price

    PC capable

Against

  • Picture

    sound

    no widescreen mode

Hang on a minute: didn't Grundig pull out of the UK TV market years ago? Yet now it appears it's back. The evidence? A 15in LCD TV called the Grundig GUVL1500.

Not that this looks like a particularly auspicious return for the German brand. The set's finish is overtly plasticky, and the curved speakers to either side look clumsy rather than stylish. Only the use of a nice two-tone grey on the stand saves it from complete blandness.

Connectivity on the set is fair, though. As well as the customary video bits and bobs (including an RGB Scart), there's also a D-Sub jack for hooking up a PC. Being able to eke out two potential uses for the GUVL1500 makes its £230 price tag impressive value on paper.

Perhaps not surprisingly, though, features beyond this PC/TV duality are few and far between. The only thing of any interest we could uncover amid the set's onscreen menus (which seem to have been designed on a ZX Spectrum) is a video noise reduction system. Wow. There's not even a widescreen mode for watching anamorphic DVDs.

With nothing to delay us, we'll get straight into the GUVL1500's performance, which quickly proves to be underwhelming.

Two severe problems immediately come into play. First and worst, the picture isn't very bright at all. Grundig's own manufacturer's specifications for the screen only claim a paltry 250cd/m2 brightness, and this seems amply borne out by the way the picture struggles to catch your eye or inject any life, even into what should be a fairly vibrant source, such as the Sky News studio.

Big problem number two is that black levels are really quite poor. This means that dark scenes of a film or TV show look severely greyed over and flat, as well as losing out on masses of background detail.

Another more minor - but still irritating - weakness of the GUVL1500's pictures is that its colours are rather muted. This contributes further to the pictures' general lack of dynamism and occasionally results in tones looking unnatural.

Finally in the debit column, the picture really doesn't look very sharp, even if it is fed a pristine DVD signal.

So what if anything does Grundig's comeback kid get right? Truthfully, its only major strength is its freedom from practically all kinds of noise, be it grain, dot crawl, edge shimmering and even moiring over fine details. The only type of noise left is a trace of smearing over motion caused by minor inadequacies in the screen's LCD response time.

The TV's audio doesn't fare any better than its pictures. There's absolutely no bass worthy of the name, and in addition, the trebles sound compressed and harsh, and the mid-range sounds thin and easily distorted.

In some ways we're happy to see Grundig back at the TV table, if only for old time's sake. But on the evidence of the GUVL1500, unless it picks up its game fast, we suspect its rebirth in the UK might prove rather short-lived...