It comes as little surprise that the build quality of the Goodmans LD3261HD gives away its budget LCD TV status.

The frame is chunky, the stand makes a large footprint, and the television feels too plastic to win any style awards.

Limited connectivity

Connectivity is even more disappointing.

There's only the one HDMI input here, leaving you up a certain stretch of water without a certain implement if you want to hook up more than one piece of hi-def kit (such as a Sky HD box, hi-def disc player or games console) to the TV at any given time.

At least the presence of component video input, D-Sub PC input and CI slot lessen the blow. Other connections include S-video and twin Scarts (one RGB-enabled).

The combination of HDMI and component video inputs reveals that the LD3261HD is HD Ready, with a native resolution of 1366 x 768. The rest of the TV's specification doesn't auger too well for potential picture performance, however.

Modest expectations from this budget LCD

The contrast ratio of 800:1 and brightness of 500cd/m2 are both a little on the low side, but this is a budget HDTV after all.

The LD3261HD may sound disappointing on paper, but it's in practice where we make our decisions, so we threw an HD DVD of King Kong in the TV's direction to see how
it would fare.

Our expectations of this TV weren't great, to be honest (we've been stung by Goodmans before!), so it wasn't a massive shock to discover that the LD3261HD's sound is lamer than the proverbial canard.

Limp performance from Goodmans

There's barely any bass wallop at all, and the overall lack of power renders the soundstage limp and distorted during all but the quietest scenes - you can imagine how the climactic Empire State Building sequence fares.

Pictures barely escape from being average at all times. We were right about that contrast level: dark areas of the picture look more bluish than black, undermining any sense of scale.

Shadow detailing is also on the scarce side, leaving those same blacks looking unconvincing.

Hit and miss image quality

Colours also trip up the LD3261HD. Skin tones are the first to suffer, making actors look like shop window dummies.

Still, brightness levels (actually quite good, considering our initial reservations) cheer the picture up a little.

The common LCD technology problem of handling motion convincingly also rears its ugly little head: motion smearing is all over the shop, particularly apparent when Kong attempts to swat the swooping bi-plane gnats from the New York skies.

Cheap LCD at a price

Overall, the Goodmans LD3261HD represents reasonable value for money (if indeed outlay is the major consideration in your HDTV purchase), and is a reasonable way to experience high-definition on a budget.

As a bonus, the Goodmans LD3261HD's Freeview pictures are less noisy than expected.

But there are too many teething troubles with HD sources to makes the Goodmans LD3261HD an LCD TV worth shouting about from the rooftops.

The ultimate bargain HDTV eludes Goodmans for now.