You don't have to look beyond its price tag to find the main appeal of Philips' latest 50in plasma TV.At just £3,000 the 50PF7320 is cheaper than some 42in sets. But does this lowly price tag come with too many strings attached?

Aesthetically the 50PF7320 adopts a distinct and not unlikeable retro stance, with styling and hefty proportions (by plasma standards) that feel like a blast from the past.

The connections seem dated too in some ways for while the TV does wear an HD Ready badge, it only gets there by the back door.The problem is that a single DVI socket is expected to do triple duty as a digital video input,component video input,and VGA PC input. Which means that, a) you'll have to muck about with fiddly adaptors for some of your inputs,and b) to attach more than one device via one of those three connectors you'll have to keep switching them over manually.Shudder...

The 50PF7320 starts to recover from its uninspiring start thanks to that quintessential Philips trick,Pixel Plus processing.This near legendary device adds huge amounts of clarity and detail to the picture,and has impressed us in the past,the odd unwanted side effect aside.Note, though,that the 50PF7320's version of Pixel Plus is an old one,and not the new,HD-optimised system sported by Philips' 9830 LCD range.

This TV is unusual in not having a built-in digital tuner but it tries to compensate with some eye-catching specs,notably an extraordinary claimed contrast ratio of 10,000:1, and brightness of 1,500cd/m2.Wow. If these numbers translate into hard picture currency,we could have something quite special here.

Sadly,however,they don't.And rather than quite special,the 50PF7320's pictures are actually very average.

The biggest flaw concerns the amount of noise in the picture,as the set fails to address basic plasma gripes such as colour solarisation, and grey/green dot crawl in dark image areas.Also unpleasant is the nasty halo that can appear around harshly contrasted edges.

These issues are particularly prevalent with Pixel Plus activated, as the processing struggles to cope with the noise caused by the plasma panel and drivers.Switch Pixel Plus off,though,and the picture loses too much definition and depth.

Colours,meanwhile,can be suspect in tone, with reds looking orange and people looking green around the gills.The white balance is dull too,and a general brightness/ contrast imbalance makes it hard to pitch the settings right to suit dark and light scenes simultaneously.

It's not all bad news.Dark picture parts enjoy unusually profound black levels, motion is reasonably free of plasma's common dotty noise,and some of the earlier flaws earlier are less troublesome during HD viewing than with standard definition footage.And the set's audio is both powerful and clean, aside from a faint buzz when the picture is particularly bright.

Ultimately,though,competition is so severe these days that even though it's cheap, it's numerous woes make it impossible to seriously recommend. John Archer