This is budget brand Goodmans' most affordable 27in LCD to date, and at first glance it seems ideally suited to those looking for a second room TV. Its plain looks and plasticky, silver finish means that it's unlikely to receive many admiring glances, and the specs are pretty basic - but a decent performance could more than compensate at this price.

Socket shortage

Cost-cutting is most apparent when it comes to the GTV27W3LCD's connections. While a native resolution of 1,280 x 720 means the screen has ample pixels to cope with high-definition material, the lack of both a DVI or HDMI digital input and a component video input means that it will be unable to handle Sky's HDTV service.

The only way to get HD images onto the Goodmans is via its PC input (a feature that at least means it can double up as a luxury monitor). The absence of component video inputs will also be a disappointment for anyone wanting to get top-notch progressive scan images from their DVD player - DVD pictures are left up to one of the two RGB Scart inputs.

The set is fairly straightforward to use, however - something that shouldn't be taken for granted. It automatically tunes and stores TV channels in the correct order, and the remote is neatly laid out and simple to operate. On-screen menus lack the finesse of more upmarket menu graphics, but offer easy access to the usual picture tweaks.

Pictures from the analogue tuner are a bit of a disappointment: clarity is poor, and images are soft with low-quality signals from a rooftop aerial. Still, LCD technology is not known for its prowess in this area, and at this price it's no surprise to find that there's no digital Freeview TV tuner or sophisticated picture processing incorporated to help improve the TV performance.

Happily, there's less picture noise on show from our The Matrix Reloaded test DVD via RGB Scart - but the GTV27W3LCD still has its flaws. Images have an overtly blue hue, which helps to deliver impressive black levels, but has the downside that reds are almost purple at times. And while blacks are deep, they also have a 'black hole' effect, which means they swallow up subtle details in the shadows.

Our test movie's varied skin tones aren't always presented naturally either, and as Morpheus walks through the underground city of Zion, motion artefacts are clearly visible as the set struggles to cope with both imperfections in his skin and subtle background details.

Small wonder

The GTV27W3LCD's tiny side-mounted speakers give a respectable performance for their size and price point. Bass levels aren't particularly high - as is often the case with built-in speakers - but clarity is good, and dialogue is very easy understand. Selecting the 'effect' mode from the screen's sound menu helps to widen the stereo soundstage, and we also recommend switching off the factory-set AVL option for the most dynamic performance.

We do have an audio concern, though, and that's the slight sound breakthrough from the TV tuner when watching other sources via the inputs - it's possible to make out the faint sound of the tuner through the background hiss from the speakers. There's also a big difference in the volume levels from a DVD via the AV inputs and that from the tuner.

Soft details, blue-tinged colours and a lack of high-def socketry - the GTV27W3LCD certainly isn't a cutting-edge flat TV. Its pictures are still watchable, however, and its budget price and PC capability mean it's a reasonable option as a second-room set for an undemanding user.