We expected the £1,300 barrier for a 50in plasma TV to be broken by the likes of Goodmans, Bush or Hyundai. Yet here we have the £1,299 50PF7521D and it sports no less a name than Philips.

What's more, this monstrous screen with its stylish glossy black bezel wouldn't embarrass a screen twice as expensive.

The 50PF7521D does an adequate job of meeting your home cinema connectivity needs with two HDMIs, backed up by a component video input and all the other SD fallbacks. The only niggle is that there's no PC input, so anyone wanting to hook up a PC will have to sacrifice one of the HDMIs to it.

We wouldn't expect a price-driven TV like this to have many features of note. But not only is it HD-ready it has a digital tuner and even sports Pixel Plus image processing, albeit an early version that lacks much of the latter's noise reduction, HD processing and colour control. But it should improve image sharpness.

Worry beads

And so it proves. During the opening Mission: Impossible III scene where Hunt's wife is shot, Pixel Plus helps the 50PF7521D reproduce every pore and bead of sweat on his face with stunning clarity and sharpness.

Black levels are also very good; for instance, during Hunt's night assault on a Berlin factory there's practically no greyness over even the darkest corners, and you can see plenty of the shadow detail that gives the image scale.

Colours are another strength as the rich tones of the Vatican party look vibrant and bright, while skin tones look natural, even during dark scenes.

There are a couple of areas where the 50PF7521D's budget status emerges. For instance, during the opening 'torture' scene Hunt's face shows signs of dotty noise as he thrashes about.

Also, SD handling results in an excessive reduction in various picture elements, including sharpness, colour toning and noise levels - not least because this version of Pixel Plus generates more side effects with lower-quality sources.

While these problems make its pictures average, they're still good enough. And with a reasonably feisty sound performance to boot, it's worth investigating by anyone seeking the maximum screen size for their buck.