Hitachi has proved consistently that it's a star player with big flat-panel TVs, be they LCD or plasma-flavoured. But can it maintain its edge at the smaller end of the market?

It must be said that the 20LD3200 sadly lacks the glamour usually found on Hitachi's bigger TVs, looking really rather plain and plasticky in its chunky grey livery.

The set's connections are very basic too,comprising just one Scart, the aerial socket,a composite video input,and an S-video input. The absence of any VGA jack is particularly unfortunate,denying you the possibility of using the 20LD3200 as a PC monitor.

The screen's claimed specifications bode quite well,with the 500cd/m2 brightness and 500:1 claimed contrast,both higher than is common at this screen size.The native resolution,though,is a bog standard 640 x 480.This Hitachi is a 4:3 ratio set but for people thinking of attaching a DVD player as well as a standard analogue aerial, it does have a widescreen mode.

Predictably, given the 20LD3200 is exceptionally cheap for a 20in LCD TV, other features are in short supply. In fact,the only things really worth a mention are a dynamic skin tone option for improving the look of people's flesh,and multiple brightness presets based around the ambient light in your room.

In action the 20LD3200 proves a run of the mill performer. Starting with RGB DVD and Sky receiver feeds, the key problems are common ones in the cheap LCD world: a shortage of black level (not helped by slight backlight bleed to top and bottom), some slightly offish colour tones, and traces of motion smearing.

On the upside, colours are reasonably vibrant,due to fulsome saturations and a decent level of innate brightness from the screen. Detail levels are pretty decent too, delivering reasonable texturing and a good general sense of sharpness. This is helped further by colours that tend to stay well contained within their proper boundaries.

Finally RGB pictures look likeably clean,with precious little dot crawl, grain,moiring or other interference to spoil the show. In fact,overall RGB-fed pictures tend to look really quite nice.Shame,then,that the quality degrades so markedly with analogue tuner feeds.

This is mainly because colours look much less controlled.Even if you manually tone them down, you're still left with too many artificial hues, flaring,and some quite severe edge bleed.

Sonically the 20LD3200 is typical of small budget LCDs - which is not a particularly good thing.There's practically no bass, trebles sound harsh and strangled,and raw power is at a premium.The only good news is that voices sound believable,and there's seldom any sign of cabinet rattle or speaker distortion.

In answer to the question we posed at the start of this review,we have to say that no, on this evidence Hitachi can't apply its large-screen prowess to the smaller things in life. Still,while this might make the 20LD3200 disappointing by Hitachi's standards, it's actually more or less average for its price point.