Sim2 is probably best known for its projectors. But since these projectors are renowned as some of the most stylish and best-performing around, we have high hopes for the brand's first foray into the flat TV world, the HTL40 LINK.

From the first glance it's clear that this set sits apart from the crowd, with a glass-fronted black screen surround and a wooden back plate (in either a rosewood or whitened oak finish). Combined with an optional crystal tabletop stand, it looks stunning. And that's not to mention the fact that, at 40in, it's one of the biggest LCDs on the market.

High in fibre

Connections come on an external 'DigiOptic' multimedia box. This connects to the set via ultra-robust fibre optic cables, which should carry signals with less image noise and over greater distances without degradation. What's more, it can be upgraded as future connections become available.

The current hookups are far from scant, and include an HDMI input for HD feeds, a PC-only DVI input, four component inputs and two PC inputs. The lack of Scarts and a TV tuner is a shame, and means that an RGB source (like a set-top box) has to be hooked up via the right cabling or adaptors, but, at £6,500, this is clearly a high-end set.

More fiddly than the HTL40's connections is its setup system. Menus are confusing, and the detection of signal inputs is poor, meaning we had to spend more time than we'd like getting things up and running.

Donnie darker

Thankfully, our efforts were generally very well rewarded. For starters, the HTL40 boasts an impressive black level response that did full justice to our test DVD, Donnie Darko, via component video. This shadowy movie has tripped up many an LCD in the past, but the Sim2's wide contrast range meant that we could make out plenty of detail in Donnie's night-time dream sequences. What's more, the movie's rare outdoor, sunny sequences were exceptionally vibrant, boasting rich colours that were free of image noise.

There's also no sign of any of LCD's common artefacting glitches, be it motion blur, dot crawl or colour banding. In fact, the only criticism we have of the HTL40's images from standard definition sources is that a slight green tone can creep into colours - especially flesh tones - during darker scenes. It's an excellent performance, especially considering the Sim2's size.

It's a slightly different story with a digital or HD feed, however. While there's plenty of good stuff to report - great detail response, bold colours and good black levels - footage can be 'jittery' and unstable. There are also a few other flaws; we've seen HD done better.

Our assessment of the HTL40's audio is easy - there isn't any. Clearly, Sim2 figures that anyone stumping up £6,500 for a 40in TV will be using it with a separate surround sound setup (probably a fair assumption).

With designer looks and near-perfect pictures from standard definition sources, the HTL40 LINK is certainly very desirable. A disappointing HD performance is the main problem - and if you're you sort of person to buy a TV with no speakers, you'll probably want HD. Which leaves us thinking that this set's hefty price tag isn't justified.