The 42PW33Q gets off to a rocky start by being decidedly unattractive thanks to a plasticky dull grey exterior that seems an exercise in blandness.

It loses further ground on the connectivity front. The TV does carry component jacks, but these are neither HD nor progressive scan compatible. There's no CAM slot either, for the good reason that, unlike the Samsung, this Toshiba doesn't carry a digital tuner. At least the Tosh manages to include three Scarts, and offers a slight bonus in the form of a subwoofer line out.

The lack of any HD or digital broadcast support is compounded by the fact that the Toshiba doesn't carry an auto-convergence system. Instead you have to line up the red, green and blue elements of the picture manually - a time consuming process that also left me unable to remove every last bit of red or blue bleed from every single portion of the screen.

With no other significant features (the set is a regular 50Hz model), the Toshiba will have to excel in terms of performance. Thankfully, it does. In fact, its pictures are in a different league.

Firstly, they are much sharper than we had the right to expect, providing a far greater sense of texture and detail (except for the small places where we couldn't quite fully converge the colours) during detail-packed scenes.

The Toshiba's picture also looks pleasantly clean. It doesn't exaggerate noise inherent to sources, and takes great care not to introduce any noise of its own. Not having any significant digital picture processing perhaps helps in this regard.

Black levels are good too, while colours are just as rich and natural.

Of course, the Toshiba isn't perfect. Not having any 100Hz picture technology means that you're often aware of the flickering effect that always accompanies 50Hz technology. Bright scenes also show up faint horizontal scanning lines across the picture, and while the Toshiba's pictures are good, they lack the sheer intensity of more expensive digital technologies.

Sonically the 42PW33Q is inferior to some rivals - but not by much. Only a little less clarity with treble detail and some minor thickness with dialogue let the side down.