Tiny Focus 5000 review

The most affordable 50in plasma around

Our Verdict

Our favourable verdict isn't all down to price

Tiny's 5000 is the most affordable 50in plasma in the UK. The company's move into the home cinema market has been heralded with a staggering number of plasma packages, including not only screens but also surround speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers and even DVD recorders. This model costs a modest £2,600, so let's see if many compromises have been made.

Could this massive screen be a heavyweight contender? In one way, definitely. Lifting heavy TVs in our test rooms is part of our job, of course, but nothing quite prepared us for this beast. Ouch. Once heaved onto its table-top stand, the Focus 5000 is nothing special to look at, as Tiny has stuck to its budget guns with a simple metallic frame. Still, it's pleasant enough.

Connectivity initially looks anything but budget, with a DVI input heading up a list that includes two Scarts, component video inputs, a D-Sub PC input and an analogue audio input. Finally, a mini jack audio input shows this plasma's PC heritage. Sadly, the DVI input didn't work with our DVD player. So Sky's HDTV plans could be off-limits - even though this panel's native 1,366 x 768 resolution would be enough to display high-def. Tiny has promised to send us a new sample for our next bigscreen group test.

The menus are PC in style: straightforward and easy to use. Picture presets include normal, bright and soft, while novel features include freeze frame on live TV and a zoom function that extends to panning around all parts of an image. As well as a few picture-in-picture modes, there are sleep and timer functions.

When it comes to the Tiny's performance, we got the impression this screen is working flat-out to display DVDs via its component video inputs. Playing The Incredibles, we noticed some fairly major picture cons alongside some genuinely impressive pros...

Colours are reproduced well - but this is The Incredibles, and most TVs should be able to get reasonable colour from such a hue-filled movie. However, sharpness isn't a strong point - which makes a mockery of the 5000's 3,000:1 contrast ratio stats. Although The Incredibles is CGI animation, it's packed with backgrounds and SFX you'd expect to see in a live-action movie. Plenty to test the Tiny, in other words. In a nutshell, this screen falls short in sharpness compared with the other TVs in this test.

Backing off

There is a lot of detail to close-ups, but not backgrounds, and skin tones in live-action DVDs are over-cooked, with patches of colour not blending well - particularly greens. Distracting colour banding and an overall soft image is the result. And sadly, the colour temperatures can't be adjusted. Nor can this screen cope too well with motion - there's a significant level of juddering and dot crawl on horizontal action. There's really nothing here to get excited about, but the overall image does remain watchable.

Audio from the attached side speakers comes in preset modes comprising music, cinema and news (and also with adjustable treble and bass levels), and suffers from virtually no distortion while delivering a decent amount of bass.

The Focus 5000 is hardly the finest plasma we've seen, but with prices for similarly sized sets hideously expensive, we commend Tiny for effort. The image is soft, and it isn't clever with colours or motion, but with good audio and a watchable image, this screen just sneaks four stars. That's largely thanks to its pricing, of course - a penny more and our opinion would change.