What's this, are we seeing things? Can this stunning offering from Relisys really be a 40in LCD panel? For the uninitiated, such large flatpanels are about as common as Englishmen in the Arsenal team or Australians happy to talk about cricket. What's even more surprising is the fact that the Taiwanese manufacturer is offering this slice of LCD magic for just £2,600, has the world gone mad?

Relisys has opted not to skimp when it comes to the styling of this mighty LCD panel, and its sleek, sophisticated lines will undoubtedly prove a big hit with minimalists that prefer their screens understated. Having said that, the clumsily designed detachable speakers (not pictured) appear to have been tacked on as something of an afterthought.

Connectivity is also surprisingly generous. The customary Scarts and S-video options are partnered by an HDCP-enabled DVI and two component video inputs. Combined with a native resolution of 1280 x 768, the prestige of an HD-ready badge is guaranteed.

Having done so much to whet our appetite, the feature list is something of a damp squib. The only things worthy of a mention being a black level booster, a noise reduction mode and a Film mode reputed to improve motion when watching movie, rather than video, sources.

When it comes to performance, the RLT4000 proves that you needn't spend a fortune on an established brand to experience great-looking pictures, although there are some caveats as we'll explain later.

Top of the list is the motion handling, which is an achievement worthy of genuine praise considering this is a budget offering.

Watching Premiership football provided images completely free from smear or judder. Meanwhile interference such as moiring, dot crawl and grain are completely absent, even when studying fine details close up.

Equally impressive is the colour handling both with bright garish tones and more subtle hues. This was most apparent watching our favourite TV channel CBeebies where flesh tones are handled with much the same aplomb as bright primary colours.

Black to basics

Sadly, much of the good work done by the impressive colour handling is very quickly undone in darker scenes, thanks to less than convincing black levels. While this isn't a problem when watching The Fimbles, when it comes to Batman Begins, the frailties are hard to ignore. Blacks lack depth, resulting in splashes of flat grey. Also, because of a noticeable lack of subtlety when it comes to grey scale, areas of shadow look hollow and, on the odd occasion, green in tone.

Also disappointing is the softness to images, meaning that HD fare loses its crispness, while lower-definition sources look almost unfocused.

The detachable speakers go some way towards redressing the good work, providing an impressively broad and powerful soundstage. Dialogue is clear, while effects are accurately positioned and well rounded.

Though far from perfect, this is the cheapest 40in LCD offering we've seen, making it an appealing, although slightly flawed proposition.