Not content with being the largest LCD yet to hit the UK market, at a whopping 45in, the LC-45GD1E boasts a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels - making it one of the very few screens in existence that's able to display every pixel of detail from all kinds of high-definition footage.

Then there's the built-in Freeview tuner, and an SD card slot that allows digital camera pics to be viewed and material in the MPEG4 format be be both recorded and played back. Unusual enough for you?

Looks-wise the LC-45GD1E is nothing new, following the same design formula as previous Sharp LCDs. Still, that's no bad thing - the classy, deep grey, titanium-clad frame, swivelling desk-top stand and curved grille of the below-screen speakers make for a super-sleek and stylish set.

Connections tick all the right boxes, and comprise a DVI input for accepting those high-detail HD images, component video inputs, three Scarts (two RGB-capable), an RF input and D-Sub 15-pin PC connector. There are no audio outputs, however - a peculiar omission that means a Scart must be used to get audio into the set.

We found that the LC-45GD1E stumbles slightly when it comes to usability: the electronic programme guide for Freeview is quite unresponsive, with a time lag between selecting programmes very apparent. What's more, Freeview broadcasts looked a bit ropey, with some blocking and picture noise evident, but that is largely down to the low bit-rate broadcasts, and is to be expected on a screen of this huge size.

DVD performance, however - no doubt the main diet of such a monster screen - is a different matter. We decided to test-drive the Sharp with one of our personal favourites, Back to the Future, and we're pleased to report that it did the time-travel adventure full justice.

Colours, in particular, were impressive - an area in which plasma generally still has the edge over LCD. From Marty's red 'life-preserver' jacket to Doc's wild white hair, all hues looked completely natural. Detail during close-ups, meanwhile - such as that of a dumb-founded Doc from the 1950s when he meets the time-travelling Marty - was plentiful, and didn't diminish during dark scenes, proving that this screen boasts great contrast and black levels.

Smooth ride

Even that old LCD bug-bear of smearing over motion is all but eliminated, no doubt thanks to Sharp's Quick Shoot technology. During the chase that precedes our test movie's famous 'I hate manure!' pay-off, both the skateboarding Marty and the car pursuing him are presented smoothly.

Finally, we found that the 3D-NR mode, supposed to reduce noise, didn't appear to make much difference - but that's probably because the screen shows up very little in the way of noise anyway!

The LC-45GD1E's high-def performance is the icing on the cake. When we hooked it up to a D-VHS machine (our HD test standard), we were astounded. Blurring was hardly detectable, while detail was awesome. This is one hell of an HD-ready panel.

The speakers have a lot to live up to, and while they performed well with our test DVD, we did notice distortion and slightly buzzy bass on the highest setting. Still, the Virtual Dolby mode lends a hand with action-heavy scenes, deepening the soundstage nicely.

The LC-45GD1E certainly isn't cheap, but if you want innovation and a top performance, you're going to have to pay for it. This screen delivers both in spades, and is a benchmark in the LCD world.