There is a massive market at the moment aimed directly at people who want a computer monitor that is also a fully fledged LCD TV as well. The problem is – it’s a fallacy. TV’s are not designed to be monitors, the challenges of displaying computer data are vastly different to watching movies or TV programs. If you see a product advertised as an all-in-one TV/Monitor, be skeptical. The TEAC LCD198HDM is a perfect example of the wolf in sheep clothing approach to product marketing.
The 19-inch screen purports itself to be the perfect answer for people who want a computer monitor, a TV, A photo frame, MP3 player and Video player all at the same time. However, its focus on media is ridiculous as its speakers are atrocious. Even after attempting to tweak the sound, it still sounds extremely distant, lacking bass, treble and volume.
The speakers are not TV speakers because, wait for it, it isn’t a TV. The speakers are exactly what you would expect in a monitor. If this were marketed as a monitor with a TV tuner and media player, then we would expect the speakers to be average and the consumer would naturally assume that they will need to purchase additional speakers in order to get the most out of it. That isn’t to say that all monitors have poor speakers but it is fairly common.
Another reason you can’t really call it a TV is that its native resolution is a monitor resolution. At 1440×900 you can’t realistically expect it to properly display 720p content accurately without scaling. Even when hooked up to a PC it can’t achieve 1440×900 anyway with its only viable resolution resting at 1280×800.
One thing you can say for it is that is it definitely feature-packed. It has a media player that can play music, video and photos via either USB or SD card. You can hook up AV equipment via HDMI, Component, Composite or S-Video and it has a HD tuner built-in. One thing you can’t say for it is that it does anything particularly well.
It is very obviously a budget model and is aimed at the low end market. It has mediocre image quality, has a basic and unattractive user interface and the overall design itself is quite bulky and bland. It seems like it is trying hard to emulate the big boys in the TV market but doesn’t quite understand what it is that makes them so popular.
We tested the media player capabilities and were impressed that it was able to play DivX content but the quality wasn’t all that good. Even though we expected to see scaling artifacts, they were a little too excessive here. Connecting via HDMI and D-Sub, we tested the PC compatibility and found that the image quality was too poor to comfortably use it as a monitor for extended periods.
There was too much over-sharpening and trying to reduce it resulted in the image becoming too soft. There was no comfortable middle ground. Also, whites and light colours were overblown, even after adjusting the brightness and contrast. All in all, the image quality was fairly poor.
If you are on a budget and you really can’t afford something better, you may be impressed with all the features this unit has. The image quality is tolerable but the sound quality is not. We would recommend you buy a set of speakers to use with it but alas, the unit doesn’t have a jack to output sound so if you buy it, you will be stuck with what you get.