These days, it is possible to get a plasma for a grand, so it's great to see a big-name manufacturer produce one for only a shade more. But while it might be the new shirt sponsor of Chelsea, is this Samsung a champion screen?

A price like this usually goes hand-in-hand with a reduced features list, but here Samsung's DNIe picture processing is still on the team sheet. Mind you, the functional grey exterior does leave the PS42V4SKX looking a bit Damien Duff.

It's got all the firepower it needs on the back line, however, with the highlight being an HDCP-capable DVI input, which makes Sky's HDTV services possible. The screen resolution of only 852 x 480 means that such sparkling footage will have to be scaled down to fit. Other inputs include component video, composite video input, S-video input and two Scarts (one of which is RGB).

Processing power

HD-ready it isn't, but the PS42V4SKX does have a Digital Natural Image engine. Primed for high-definition TV pictures (despite the low resolution) and ordinary TV tuner images, DNIe promises a four-pronged attack by boosting contrast and detail while improving colour saturations and making motion clearer (not that this is a major problem with most plasmas).

Bright lights

When we came to check out the Samsung's performance, it was no shock that colour was reproduced with aplomb - it's usually the main advantage of plasma over LCD. Hues were vibrant and well-saturated, while blacks were also represented with enough depth and detail.

This all served to make our drug-addled test DVD, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, look sparkling, especially the reds of 'The Shark' as Hunter (God rest his soul) and the Attorney race through the desert on a dubious journalistic pretext.

However, just as Hunter is left cursing his contacts back in LA, we felt like we'd been burned ourselves when it comes to that DNle picture engine - the picture did look soft and at times noisy, even with it in full flight. Thankfully, (scaled-down) high-def footage looks a little cleaner, as does DVD fodder fed through the DVI input.

Our test disc's blistering late '60s soundtrack sounded surprisingly good, with the side-mounted speakers providing some punch and coping well with the mumbling Hunter's outbursts.

Considering the PS42V4SKX's limited arsenal and low price, it gives a decent performance. However, its low screen resolution is something that we would steer clear of - there are plenty of plasmas around with more to play with - because it does severely limit how good high-definition footage can look.

That's not to say HD doesn't look good on the PS42V4SKX, but it does seem a shame that the DVI input can't deliver its full potential.

At the final whistle, this 42in plasma is a good-value solution for those with big-screen ambitions and small-time budgets. Which, frankly, is most of us. Just don't expect fireworks.