With Panasonic's bigger LCD TVs winning regular plaudits here, the arrival of the diddy 20LX6 in our labs fills us with anticipation. We must say, though, that whatever attractions this set may turn out to have, they aren't immediately obvious.

Aesthetically, it's pretty decent. The silvery outer frame and speaker section seem rather plasticky, but contrasted against a black, inner screen frame, the combination looks far less drab than it does on Panasonic's bland larger models. We appreciated the 20LX6's widescreen shape, too.

Connectivity is very disappointing, though. For starters, there's no HDMI, DVI or even component video jack available for HD playback. There isn't PC input of any sort either, added to which the RF tuner input can only feed the TV analogue broadcasts.

You only get one Scart, a single S-video input, stereo audio inputs, and a headphone jack. When you think that the excellent Toshiba 20WLT56 offers PC connectivity, a digital tuner and even some HD compatibility for the same sort of money, the TX-20LX6 doesn't seem up to much.

There are no really significant features contained within the TV's onscreen menus either, unless you're turned on by a basic noise reduction system and an 'enter your address' Owner ID system to help police recover the TV if it's stolen.

Performance

Just when the 20LX6's seems unwilling even to try to justify its £500 price point, it pulls a rabbit out of the hat with a really scintillating picture performance.

Especially eye-catching is how exceptionally sharp pictures look, even though the sources available are only standard definition.

This presumably is down to two factors: the native resolution of 1,366 x 768 for one, plus some excellent motion handling, which finds objects moving across the screen largely unaffected by the smearing still common on (especially small) LCD TVs.

Colours are also outstanding by small LCD standards, with some terrifically rich saturations and vibrant hues, crucially allied to some of the most natural tones in the business. These glamorous colours aren't affected by any serious types of video noise either.

Dark scenes, meanwhile, reveal the 20LX6 to have reasonably expressive black levels, leaving as our only complaint the faint traces of ghosting around very harsh edges.

Sonically the set is less impressive, with a lack of bass and treble extension leaving the mid-range with more of a burden than the speakers can deal with. But it's no worse in this respect than many of its 15- to 23-inch peers.

Given its lack of HD, PC or digital tuner capabilities and it's extravagant price (under the circumstances), it's a testament to how good the 20LX6's pictures are that we are very impressed by it. But in the end, the numbers don't quite add up