The rather unusual looks and design of the LC1700 make it stand out from the crowd, which in our book is no bad thing. A metallic mesh frame surrounds the screen and, although it adds a few inches, creates a sumptuous aesthetic. As nice as the design may be, though, there's nothing outstanding about the connections at the rear. The big omission is component video input and there's also only one Scart.

Another surprising absentee is a composite video input. Consolation comes in the form of an S-video input, along with stereo audio and RF signals. The other notable inclusion is a 15-pin PC input with stereo minijack, which displays 60Hz PC images at SXGA resolution.

The built-in deinterlacer applies 3:2 or 2:2 pull-down detection to interlaced signals, which is designed to produce smooth moving images. Black Level Expansion stretches dark areas of pictures to black, in turn boosting contrast as it stops blacks becoming greys. There's three preset picture and audio modes, virtual surround and hue adjustment of combined red and blue levels.

Performance

The LC1700 is a fine picture performer. It exhibits impressively low levels of noise with all input sources, while the response rate is excellent, providing little image lag or judder to moving objects. RGB Scart DVD images from the Superbit version of Gladiator, for example, are clean with vivid contrasts that belie the fairly average 350:1 ratio rating.

As the troops get ready for battle in the opening sequence of the movie, embers of grey ash are clearly visible floating in the deep evening sky. There's stacks of detail on show, too, as sticks, branches, grass and fern are clearly visible on the forest floor. Later on, in the recreation of the Battle of Carthage, it is easy to distinguish a wide variety of lucid tones on Senator Gracchus's multicoloured garb.

The only minor niggle concerns the unimpressive greyscale, which makes darker colours appear black. RF pictures are smooth, however, with very little noise to spoil the view, while PC images are spectacularly clean and robust.

Despite the rather low 4.3W stereo output, audio from the set is generally magnificent, producing crisp dialogue and good levels of bass. The virtual surround mode widens the soundstage, which is very noticeable with DVD playback.

The LC1700 is a very impressive LCD TV. Connectivity is just about adequate and we did have a fair bit of trouble tuning the channels in, but that's all there really is to grumble about. Overall, then, this is an all-round top performer.