Having tended to stick to the upper slopes of the LCD TV market, Toshiba's C series marks an effort to grab a chunk of the entry-level end of things. And although smaller C models haven't impressed, the 42C3030 fits the budget bill nicely.

It starts well by looking more expensive than it is, thanks to some solid build-quality and a neat black bezel/silver trim combination. Plus it's got twin HDMI, component video input and PC connections.

One thing it does not have, however, is a full HD native resolution, instead topping out at 1,366 x 768 pixels. This by no means automatically ruins its chances of producing a good picture. In fact, given that the set retains Toshiba's likeable Active Vision LCD processing despite its lowly price, there's a fair chance its pictures won't be bad at all.

Also promising are a claimed contrast ratio of 4,000:1; the ability to take 1080p/24fps signals from HD discs; an MPEG noise reduction system and 3D colour management.

Performance

The 42C3030 is the best-performing model we've seen in Toshiba's C range. Black levels in particular seem much improved over smaller models in the series, with less greyness and more shadow detail. Also, the contrast doesn't break down quite as badly as the smaller models when viewed from the side.

Motion handling has been improved: objects pass across the room with less blur and resolution loss. This fact joins forces with a very good eye for fine detail in making the 42C3030 a real friend of HD's innate sharpness and clarity, despite not having a full HD resolution.

Other useful bits and bobs find HD pictures looking pleasingly free of video noise, and colours looking impressively vibrant for such an affordable set.

While the 42C3030 may seem much-improved over its small siblings, though, it doesn't hold up quite so well against the best on offer from rival brands. For instance, black levels do still suffer residual greyness, especially when showing a mix of bright and dark material. Also one or two colours look a bit off key, standard definition looks merely average, and while motion handling is decent, it lacks the purity of most 100Hz LCD sets.

With some solid if uninspiring audio to join the solid if uninspiring pictures, you don't have to be Einstein to figure out that the 42C3030 is basically a solid if uninspiring TV.