For a generation, TVs have been in the background – in more ways than one – of household entertainment.
Soniq 23in HD LED LCD TV combo
Soniq's cheap TV offers DVD playback and USB media playback in addition to digital TV
- All-in-one digital TV/DVD/media player
- HDMI, VGA, Component inputs
- Optical audio output
- Picture quality is average at best
- DVD drive sounds like it's in pain when a disc is loaded
- Annoying start-up sound
- Sluggish menu and function switching
Soniq's 23in HD LED combo TV/DVD player is the type of TV many of you might consider buying on a whim to fill in a gap at home. It's fine as a TV, DVD player and media player for the kitchen, spare room, or bedroom.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
Soniq’s 23in HD LED LCD TV/DVD combo is a good deal if you’re after a spare TV and media player for anywhere in the home, and you don’t want to pay more than a couple of hundred bucks for one. It comes in a manageable 23in size, and it supports a decent range of content playback functions. Just don't expect great image quality. After all, it is a cheap TV.
It’s a useful TV to pick up if you want a neat unit that will also play DVDs and media files in addition to letting you watch free-to-air TV. Not only does it have a built-in DVD player so that you can play your store-bought discs, it also supports USB movie playback. If you populate a USB hard drive or flash memory stick with a bunch of MP4 files that you’ve either downloaded or made yourself, for example, then you will most likely be able to watch them directly on this TV.
We say 'most likely' because not all the files that we tried worked properly. Mainly, some old AVI (Xvid) files and some new MP4 (H.264) files were reported as unsupported. However, apart from those files, the hit rate for supported files was quite high as we were able to play most of the shows that we wanted off our WD My Passport Slim hard drive.
The menu is a little awkward for playing files, mainly because selecting a file and pressing OK merely selects (as in ticks) the file and adds it to the ‘playlist’ so that you can play selected files one after the other. To actually play a file, you have to select it and press the play button on the remote.
In addition to some support for video files, the TV can be used to play MP3s, which will sound better if you run a 3.5mm stereo-to-RCA cable (or optical output) from the TV to an amplifier. This is because the speakers are understandably average, and better suited to the TV- and DVD-watching experience than music.
The DVD player is located on the right side of the TV and it has a slot-loading mechanism that’s slow and noisy. It sounded like it strained to accept a disc every time we loaded one, but it played them for us without any issues. The picture didn’t always default to the native aspect ratio of the movie, which meant that we had to change it manually by pressing the aspect button on the remote. There is no ‘16:9’ or ‘widescreen’ label; you only get ‘4:3’, ‘auto’, and ‘full’. Full is what you want for widescreen movies. The DVD player didn’t accept our region 1 discs. It would only play our region 4 discs.
On the TV side of things, this model has an integrated hybrid digital tuner, which means it also does analogue. Since the analogue signal will be switched off this year, you will have to make do with the digital tuner, and this will work best with a rooftop antenna, unless you live in an area where internal ‘rabbit ears’ antennas can pick up a strong, steady signal (we only managed to pick up a couple channels on our rabbit ears in the office, and it wasn’t always steady). You can use a USB hard drive pause and record live TV (the TV has EPG support, too), though you will have to format the drive to use it specifically for this task.
The menu for setting up the TV is mostly intuitive, which is to say we didn’t have any problems operating it after we played around with it for a couple of minutes, learned the navigation options, and got used to the lag of the remote control. The TV comes with a large remote, though you might have to get accustomed to the location to many of its buttons, which are in a non-standard array. There are also some control buttons at the top of the screen.
Picture quality is average at best and you might have to play around with the colour temperature and tone if you find it to be a little too red (which we did). The native resolution is 1366x768, and the picture looked blocky, with some noticeable tearing, when playing most movies and watching from a close proximity. You’ll want to sit back from the TV about 3m for it to look decent. It’s not a completely glossy screen, but it does have some reflectivity that’s noticeable in dark scenes if you’re watching in a well-lit room. The screen tilts a little, which can help, and it’s light enough to swivel a little, too, as long as you have enough space around it.
The quality of the picture is a factor of the price, and if you’re looking for a TV in the sub-$200 space, you probably aren’t too concerned with how it looks, but want it more for its function (or multiple functions, as is the case with this unit). In fact, it’s probably the type of TV you’ll just buy on a whim to fill in a gap at home, be it as a TV and media player for the kitchen, spare room, or bedroom. For those purposes it will be fine, and its ability to play back modern media files (that is, many recent MP4 files) off a USB stick or portable hard drive is a bonus.
Its full list of video connectivity includes HDMI input and VGA (so you can use it as a makeshift computer monitor), component and composite (if you want to plug in a VCR or external disc player), USB (for hard drives and sticks), and ANT (for digital TV). Audio output is by way of a 3.5mm stereo port, and a digital (optical) port.
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