You don't have to look hard to find the main attraction of Tiny's PS-42D8. It's cheap. With a capital 'C'. In fact, it's the cheapest 42in plasma sold in the UK, which is nice. But how many corners have been cut to make such an extraordinary price possible?
Although there's nothing exactly designer about the Tiny's obstinately rectangular looks, it does at least avoid looking cheap thanks to its silver frame's pleasingly metallic sheen
Connectivity is poor. There are no digital video inputs. This immediately denies the 422 compatibility with both Sky's upcoming high-definition services and pristine digital outputs - upscaled or otherwise - from some high-spec DVD players.
At least there are two Scarts and a built-in tuner for regular users, plus a PC jack and component video jacks for analogue (non-HDCP protected) highdefinition and progressive sources. Oddly there are no composite or S-video inputs.
Feature-wise, you can adjust phase and frequency for high-definition feeds (which is actually more of a hindrance than a help), choose between a few audio presets, zoom in on and pan around a picture, and play with a few reasonably helpful picture-in-picture modes. But that's basically that.
Oh dear. I'd have been fully prepared to accept some pretty average picture quality given the Tiny's £1,000 asking price - but the 422's picture inadequacies fall well below that.
However, most surprisingly, dark film scenes are actually presented with a credible level of black level. This means the picture can, at least with a highdefinition source, look quite solid and three-dimensional.
The Tiny's only other strength is its detail response, with just about enough clarity to give pictures - high-definition ones, at least - a sense of texture.
From here on in, though, it's all bad. Even with a high-definition source the picture suffers quite horribly with oldschool dotty artefacts over moving objects. Even worse, with HD the picture judders horrifically, to the point where camera pans are almost laughable. Or at least they would be if this 'fun' effect hadn't cost you a grand.
Colours are oversaturated, and seldom enjoy anything like a natural tone. Colour banding is also evident, indicating an old video driver. Tiny makes a big point of saying it sources its panels from Samsung - but if this is true, it's clearly missing out on key driver and processing technology to hit its price point
Stepping down to RGB Sky feeds sees all the above problems - except the juddering, which disappears - double in intensity. Colours often look simply bizarre, the picture loses focus, and motion artefacts and crude gradations are omnipresent. As for tuner pictures - heaven help us. The speakers supplied in the 422 package are okay - or at least, they sounded pretty solid relative to those nasty pictures.
I'd hoped at this point to be slapping Tiny on the back for opening up the big-screen plasma experience to the mass market. But instead I'm mortified thinking about how many people might end up stuck with its shoddy pictures, thinking that they're acceptable, when they clearly aren't.
What's more, our internet forums abound with tales of these screens' unreliability, and they have even featured on the BBC's Watchdog. Cripes.