Once the king of the rear projection world, CRT technology is getting increasingly sidelined by its newer DLP rival. But it's hanging on thanks to its attractive screen size/price ratio - a talent exemplified by Samsung's SP42Q2HD, with 42in of pictures for just £750.
And this lowly figure doesn't just get you a basic specification. In fact, the set sports progressive scan processing, a built-in Freeview tuner and even high definition capability. Sound too good to be true?
Samsung has clearly tried to be stylish with the SP42Q2HD's broad black and grey bands and minimalist finish but the results actually look pretty ugly. The finish is plasticky, too.
Things look up considerably on the connections front: component video jacks deliver analogue in (PALonly) high definition, and there's progressive scan. There's no digital input, limiting the TV's compatibility with next gen HD sources but it should work fairly well with Sky's first-generation HD box.
The TV also carries three Scarts, and a CAM slot for adding Top Up TV to the digital tuner.
The SP42Q2 also backs up its digital tuner with the Freeview 7-day EPG including programme category filtering. However, this guide is abysmally slow to navigate, and will only let you set reminders from it, not full blown recording timer events.
Elsewhere there are Natural and Digital picture presets as well as the aforementioned progressive one; noise reduction; Virtual Dolby audio; and a handy Self Focus system that automatically converges the red, green and blue of the CRT picture.
Sadly, while the SP42Q2 sounds great on paper, its picture performance is a huge disappointment. For starters the image looks very soft and unfocussed, as well as strangely fragile, with an almost translucent look to peak whites.
The set's image processing also struggles, exaggerating any noise in an image, and introducing more noise of its own. The image mode that causes the least artefacts (Progressive),also suffers with aggressive image flicker.
More trouble comes from bright spots in a picture, which can cause streaks across the screen, and the nasty way harsh edges are plagued by glimmering halos, making the picture look uneven and disjointed.
There are one or two plus points to report. Black levels are fair; motion is quite natural (it suffers none of DLP's noise or LCD's smearing); colours are reasonably vivid and fairly, though not spectacularly, natural in tone; and Self Focus does an OK job of aligning CRT's red, green and blue colours. But the bad stuff rules.
Samsung puts the SP42Q2's bulk to good use with its audio, as it delivers plenty of bass, lots of audio detailing, and enough breathing room to open up for a raucous action scene.
But decent sound doth not a top TV make. Cheap the SP42Q2 may be, but if this is the best CRT can do these days, maybe it's time the old TV warrior finally hung up its sword.