JVC's latest LCD TV range can be summed up as impressive but expensive. So the LT-20B60SJ looks like an anomaly, as it offers 20in of picture for the approachable price of £450. This is an anomaly we don't have a problem with, provided JVC's corner-cutting hasn't gone too far.

It's fair to say that the 20B60SJ won't win any awards for design. In fact, the expanse of plasticky silver screen surround looks almost laughably old-school with its combination of sheer bulk and almost child-like curves.

Things get more 'serious' with its connections; an adequate two Scarts are joined by a 12-pin VGA PC jack. Being able to double up as a PC monitor will increase its appeal.

The 20B60SJ's features list is predictably short. On the pictures side, the only noteworthies are a dedicated backlight brightness adjustment and video noise reduction. For audio, there's just 'Hyper Sound' for delivering a wider soundstage.

As for internal specifications, the 800 x 600 native resolution shapes up well against the Samsung 20S51 also reviewed in this issue; the 500:1 quoted contrast is fair at this price; and the 500cd/m2 brightness is a shade higher than usual.

Unfortunately, though, these specs don't translate into particularly special pictures. For starters, the picture lacks both deep black level response (dark areas succumb to a blue-grey tone that hides shadow details and reduces depth perception), and the sort of eyecatching brightness now common among even budget LCD TVs.

Softly softly

The picture also looks slightly soft, thanks to a lack of fine detail and texture, and a tendency for what fine detail there is to be besmirched by moiring interference. Finally on the downside, colours, while natural in tone, look slightly muted.

One thing that doesn't contribute to the slight softness, however, is smearing; although movement on the 20B60SJ isn't completely immaculate, it's nothing like as blurry as many low-cost rivals.

Also pleasing is the picture's directness; you're not distracted by common LCD noise ailments such as dot crawl, grain or colour banding. Finally a thumbs up goes to the TV's tuner, which is sensitive enough to provide an unusually strong, clean signal.

Despite their unusual (by LCD standards) bulk, the 20B60SJ's speakers are uninspiring. An almost complete lack of bass is sadly emphasised by too much focus on trebles,which leaves the soundstage unbalanced and very harsh under any sort of duress. Voices often sound nasal and boxy as well.There is some good news, however, in that the set can reach pretty high volumes, never succumbs to distortion, and produces subtle effects with unusual clarity.

Ultimately there's something slightly dated about the 20B60SJ's performance. Also, the price only looks 'good' rather than 'great' when you consider that Samsung's 20in LCD TV sells for £70 less. Which means that, unexcitingly, the best word to sum up the 20B60SJ overall is probably 'OK'. John Archer