With so many great looking, feature-packed LCD TVs out there, it takes something out of the ordinary to surprise us. Enter the Sanyo CE-32LDY1, stage left. For starters, it looks sumptuous, with its burnished Aluminium screen frame and rear mounted, pole-style, upward-firing speakers.

There's also a 160GB HDD PVR. Its features include chasing playback, automatic buffering of the currently viewed channel, and the potential to record one source while watching another. The only limitations are that you can't record via the component video, PC or HDMI jacks, or call up the HDD menu while recording.

Lot of front

Adding further to the 32LDY1's upfront appeal is a digital tuner, backed up by the usual seven-day EPG facilities, from which you can directly set timer events for the PVR.

The set's connections are adequate. There are HDMI and component HD video options (though only one of each), a D-Sub PC port, three Scarts, the usual composite video fallback, and a CAM slot for adding subscription services to the digital channel roster.

Despite the appearance, it's the performance that matters. So it's a relief to find the set handling HD and standard DVD transfers of Alien with some aplomb.

Colours are fully saturated, giving the film's rare colourful scenes like the infamous 'chestbursting' sequence immediate dynamism and vibrancy. Secondly, they're pleasingly natural in tone for the most part.

Also good are the TV's black levels. The shadowy corridors of the Nostromo look truly dark, rather than swimming in grey mist as they do on lesser LCDs.

Some of the film's hand-held camerawork, meanwhile, reveals the Sanyo to be a credible handler of motion, while the sharpness and texturing apparent in background walls reveals good fine detailing.

Pictures aren't perfect, though. Colours occasionally lose a little naturalism during dark scenes, the digital tuner shows more MPEG noise than we're comfortable with, and although they look black, dark picture areas also look a bit hollow.

When it comes to recordings, using the HQ mode the results are good, but not quite as natural looking (or sounding) as the original source material. And we wouldn't recommend you use anything other than the top two provided settings if you still want your recordings to be easy to watch.

Unusual suspects

Those unusual speakers on the 32LDY1's rear, meanwhile, at first seem a touch restrained in their approach. But over time we grew to appreciate their rare richness and finesse, complete with nicely controlled bass line and well-rounded trebles.

Overall, the 32LDY1's combination of looks, features and above par performance make it worth considering blowing £1,400 on - assuming you're in the market for a PVR as well as an LCD TV, that is.