The French company Sagem has developed a reputation for breaking ground while pushing down prices. A reputation that is done no harm by this 32-inch LCD. From the start the set marks itself out. The glass black finish and glass stand screams of Gallic style, with the hint of the futuristic.

The connections are merely adequate in today's market. There's a single HDMI and component video jacks for high-definition duties, and two RGB-enabled Scarts (one more would have been welcome).

There's a bonus in the form of a multiformat memory card reader, a handy extra that allows the TV to read data from seven types of flash memory cards. These are used for storage in devices like mobile phones, and digital stills cameras and camcorders. While this may not sound much, but the photographer in your family will appreciate it.

Otherwise things are lacking feature-wise. There are a few preset sound settings - including Sagem's virtual surround sound system - and an event timer for the digital tuner.

Sagem hasn't been in the LCD TV market for a long time, but this set doesn't seem to know that. Freeview pictures are astounding - about as good as you can get. Sharp edges provide high detail, without distracting noise or pixellation. Motion smearing is minimal, present at times, but not distracting. While they aren't bad, black levels could be improved.

Amazing detail

When a 1080i signal is pumped through the set things improve by a huge margin. The detail is amazing and colours broad, and there are no problems with artefacts and the picture doesn't have the digital fakeness other HD-ready TVs can suffer from. The high definition picture is so good, it makes the pictures from standard definition DVDs look garish and crude.

After this top-quality performance, we found the TV's audio performance was a let down, thanks to its underpowered speakers. While this LCD has some limitations it remains a definite bargain, as it delivers a picture that we expect from sets costing several hundred pounds more. What Plasma Staff