Contrary to popular belief, hi-def isn’t just intended for plasma TVs the size of a house. The extra detail on offer also makes a difference on small screens under 26in (although we recommend 26in and above), which is why more and more manufacturers are putting HDMIs and hi-def resolution panels inside 23in, 20in and even 15in LCD sets.

The 23W330D is one such TV. Sporting a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels – standard for a hi-def TV – and a single HDMI socket on its rear panel, it’s equipped to handle content from hi-def sources such as Sky HD or Virgin Media’s TV services, and Blu-ray or HD DVD players. Now you can watch Lost in bed or take in the Test match while you’re cooking, all in glorious hi-def.

But wherever you watch it the 23W330D’s sleekness will enhance your surroundings. The black styling is classy and understated, while the silver flashes give a hi-tech edge.

Incredibly, the HDMI isn’t the end of the 23W330D’s hi-def connectivity. Sockets also include a set of hi-def component video jacks, which are ideal for Xbox 360 owners. There is also find an RGB-capable Scart on the rear, alongside a handy PC input.

On board is a digital tuner with quick and efficient auto tuning feature, but a sluggish seven-day Freeview EPG. If you want to add pay TV channels then the common interface slot makes it possible.

Otherwise, there are some shrug-inducing features like 3D Comb Filter and MPEG noise reduction, though picture-in-picture and digital text are worth a mention.

Smallscreen hi-def

The 23W330D proves how good hi-def pictures can look on a 23in screen. National Geographic’s Sunrise Earth, fed from a Sky HD box using the HDMI, looks stunning thanks to the set’s pin-sharp reproduction of fine detail. Shots of the sun rising over some of the planet’s most stunning scenery look crisp, dynamic and almost 3D.

On the downside, some noise is visible on some backgrounds, but it doesn’t detract from the top-notch images on display.

Static material like Sunrise Earth is one thing, but fast-moving Wimbledon coverage on BBC HD is a different ball game. The 23W330D fares well, keeping pace with the Williams sisters better than their opponents, without showing excessive signs of image lag. Detail, colour and brightness levels are also impressive, best demonstrated by shots from the back of centre court filled with row upon row of sharply resolved spectators.

With movies however, the set’s contrast levels are poor. Shadow detail gets lost during dark scenes in Harrison Ford’s Firewall, which cuts its cinematic potential and drains the pictures’ punchiness.

Images from the built-in digital tuner are fine, but there’s some judder and blur.

Further bad news comes from the audio. The sound emanating from the set’s two 9W speakers is devoid of bass, which makes it seem thin and does no favours for busy, aggressive material like action movies or music shows. The only redeeming feature is the clear reproduction of dialogue.

Worthy but pricey

The superb hi-def pictures provided by the 23W330D prove that HD-readiness is a worthwhile feature on a 23in TV.

Our only qualm is the £500 price tag – for this amount, you could pick up something bigger, possibly with better sound and more convincing contrast capabilities. The choice is yours.