LG Electronics – Flatron LE-15A10 LCD/TV review

combined LCD TV and monitor
Photo of LG Electronics – Flatron LE-15A10 LCD/TV
£999 + VAT

When you first come upon it, the Flatron LE-15A10 looks like a rather upmarket 15-inch LCD computer monitor, with its brushed metal finish and relatively elegant styling marking it out as something a little bit above average. As first impressions go, this isn’t actually too wide of the mark, but you can’t actually see what it is that sets the Flatron apart from other TFT displays.

The nature of the hidden extra is revealed by a look at the back of the cabinet, which is punctuated by several sockets more usually found on the back of a television; an aerial input, separate audio and video inputs for connecting older VCRs, an S-video input for VCRs of more recent vintage, and a SCART output for recording.

So there it is, the Flatron’s little secret is that it’s not just a PC monitor, it’s a fully-fledged television in its own right. Of course it’s also capable of functioning as a computer display, and has a standard 15-pin D-Sub input for connecting to a graphics card. So it’s a fairly obvious invitation to put television on your desktop, but without going the more normal route of installing a TV tuner card in your PC.

Setting the Flatron up is no different to tuning a conventional television, simply requiring you to run the automatic signal detection routine which scans the input from whatever source you’re using and picks out the strongest channels. Fine-tuning and longhand re-organisation of the channels is reasonably easy to accomplish, and the tuner can store up to 100 channels in its memory.

A remote control is included in the package, and there are discreetly concealed stereo speakers built into the cabinet to handle the audio. The speakers are quite powerful, but like most small units they lack real body and low frequency range. For some odd reason though, there’s no audio line-out on the monitor, which is an omission that needs correcting, really.

The on-screen menu options include several presets that alter the characteristics of the picture, plus the usual contrast, brightness and colour intensity controls. The sort of quality you can achieve is entirely satisfactory for a small-screen TV, but by now you might be wondering about the kind of television you could be enjoying if you spent over £1,000 on a CRT-based conventional set.

This really is the crux of the problem when it comes to the Flatron. It works perfectly well, and indubitably provides an elegant way to add TV functionality to a PC setup. So too, however, would a TV tuner card, except a card would cost about £100 to £150. If you then shopped around and spent another £550 or so on a 15-inch TFT monitor, you’d save at least £300 and have the same net result in terms of functionality.

Turn this round another way, and you find yourself asking why LG couldn’t have made the Flatron significantly cheaper in the first place, so improving its chances in the kind of pragmatic calculation that, for most buyers, means no sale.

Company: LG Electronics

Contact: 0870 607 5544


Verdict
While there's no doubting the appeal of a compact, flat screen TV like this, the high price is going to be a problem for most people, when cheaper alternatives - such as a TV tuner card - already exist. The convenience of being able to watch TV without turning on your PC might not be enough.