We'll forgive you for being unfamiliar with the name Planar: while the manufacturer is firmly established in the US, it's never previously ventured properly into the UK TV market.

However, on the evidence of the brand's UK LCD debut – the 47in PD470 – we suspect that Planar is now here to stay.

Not that the PD470 makes a particularly great first impression. Its plain black rectangle design looks a little industrial; its price tag of £2,400 is higher than you'd expect from a 47in LCD TV today; and – take a deep breath – there's no built-in tuner nor any speakers as standard.

Diamonds are an LCD's best friend

So, why do we reckon that Planar is here to stay? Look a little deeper and this LCD TV is not as it first appears. Although it's not particularly glamorous, the PD470 is ferociously well-built, featuring a diamond-polished brushed aluminium bezel.

The reason for the missing tuner and speakers is that Planar is pitching the PD470 at the custom install market, where the screen will be partnered with a separate video source (Sky HD receiver; Blu-ray player etc) and external audio system.

What about the high price? Actually, that starts to look reasonable when you take into consideration the screen's Full HD specification – plus it's armed with a dynamic backlight contrast system that delivers a claimed contrast ratio of 5,000:1.

So far, so groovy. But things really get interesting in the image processing department. The PD470 is the first screen in the UK to sport the Genesis Cortez-Plus LCD control chip, claimed to deliver on a single chip reams of top-end processing circuitry from award-winning video guru, Faroudja.

Mighty Cortez

Elements included in the Cortez-Plus package include DCDi 10-bit cinema video conversion for removing jaggedness over contours; Faroudja's Intellicomb 3D adaptive comb filtering for cutting down on artefacts when upscaling standard definition sources to Full HD; and – most importantly – Faroudja's TrueLife system for enhancing detailing, colours and depth perception.

This latter component, for our money, plays a big part in making the PD470 quite possibly the finest big-screen LCD performer we've ever seen.

Fantastic HD performance

The level of subtlety, finesse and transparency on show during a run-through of Blade Runner on Blu-ray has to be seen to be believed.

The varied but subdued colour palette is reproduced with seemingly infinite subtleties of tone and blend; fine detailing is extreme and achieved without video noise; and, most striking of all, the screen resolves shadow detailing during dark scenes with a deftness most LCDs can only dream of.

The PD470's images are also generally free from LCD's traditional motion blur problems, and contain some spectacularly vivid colours alongside possibly the most believable skin tones we've ever seen an LCD screen deliver.

Splendid TV

All these strengths combine to produce an achingly beautiful hi-def image that's a benchmark level for LCD tech.

What's more, the remarkable image processing also helps the PD470 work wonders with standard definition material, scaling it up to the screen's Full HD pixel count with remarkably little attendant noise.

In an ideal world, black levels might go a little bit deeper, but in every other way the PD470 is nothing short of a revelation.