When Sky talked up its HD channels late last year, the broadcaster stated that the time was right for its new service because HD Ready TVs had sunk to as low as £700 - but we hadn't see many.

A few short months later and there's now a big choice of HD sets to suit even smaller budgets. We're looking at Mirai's debut into the UK market, a HD Ready TV going for just under £500, a sure sign that the swelling awareness of HDTV is forcing CRT TVs down the tubes.

And why? Because with a screen resolution of 720 lines, the T27004 is perfectly matched to what will probably be the staple HD format for Sky: 720p. It's certainly the preferred format for sport and if you've a thirst for the World Cup in HD, it may be time to start salivating.

There will be few damp mouths among style-lovers, because the T27004 is dull on a stick and wears its 'budget' price tag like a noose. Hanging around the back, at least, is a handsome array of inputs including component video, a brace of Scarts and a VGA input for a PC, while a single DVI deals with HD duties - so get your HDMI/DVI adaptors at the ready for connecting to HD boxes.

And with HD, the T27004 does excel. We're not talking high-end perfection (which costs more than double this price), but instead a precise picture with a deal of detail and better colour saturations than really ought to be expected for this kind of money.

Nor is there any problem with motion blurring or jagged edges, but before we glance into the Mirai and flash a grin, there are plenty of minuses to wipe away a smile.

This won't matter to those who plan to use the T27004 with Sky HD or TeleWest HD, but its analogue TV tuner supplies soft pictures that break-up and seem imbalanced in terms of colour. Images are still free of blurring, but a lack of contrast dogs every source other than HD, meaning even if you've a Freeview, cable or satellite receiver connected via RGB Scart, the T27004 is hard to recommend.

None of that may be worth chewing over if a healthy diet of HDTV is on the menu, but all potential users should know that few TVs handle audio as poorly as the T27004.A total lack of bass means that even dialogue comes through so thinly at anything other than high volumes; throw the T27004 a punchy movie soundtrack and it falls flat. This wouldn't really be an issue for a much bigger set, but at 27in, the Mirai is pitched at the CRT-replacement market.

With the T27004, Mirai has ignored styling, decent audio and forgotten to ensure that standard definition pictures look good. We don't entirely mind that they did though, because the T27004 is geared towards a specific kind of consumer - one that needs a cheap HD screen and wants to watch only HD material, doesn't care what the products looks like, and has a separate sound system. This won't be enough for most people but this budget HD Ready TV knows what it is and does what it promises to do quite well - but not much else. Jamie Carter