26" LCD TVs: Are They Ready for Prime Time?

Dell W2600: But

The panel's responsiveness wasn't the best in the bunch, though still well above what most PC monitors can do. There's no doubt about it: gamers - at least those with fat wallets - should seriously consider moving to an HD LCD TV. After all, there's not all that much difference between 1280x768 and 1280x1024 as far as detail is concerned.

Dell claims a response time of 25 ms on paper. The screen we tested was even a little shy of that. But it's still good, if a little weaker in fast transitions.

Video Quality 

Unfortunately, things became a little less idyllic here. The video quality of Dell's LCD TV was acceptable, but no better. The picture sometimes showed an unpleasant line effect when screening DVDs via the S-Video interface, a problem we didn't encounter on any of the other models tested. It's a shame, because there was very little sparkling. On the other hand, a lot of jaggedness showed up on images from DVD sources. What that means is that if you choose this model, you'll really need HDTV content to get the most out of it. A little latency was visible in movies, but the viewing angles were good.

Interpolation And PC Mode

The poor quality of the interpolation we'd observed with movies got worse with Xbox games. They were playable, but only in 4:3 mode - as soon as we extended the image, the result was disastrous.

Using a PC as the image source eliminated the jaggedness we'd noticed in movies, and the Dell proved to be a very good screen.

Sound Quality

The W2600 is well behind the competition in this department. You'll absolutely need to use a dedicated sound system.


What's the bottom line on the Dell W2600? It's a good TV set, with accurate color reproduction and fairly good responsiveness. But to get the most out of it, you'll need a home cinema sound setup and a living-room PC until enough HDTV content is available. Still, this is a very good first attempt by Dell. The W2600 has serious design and construction merits going for it, and it's a shame that its video qualities are a little short of the mark.