Coming straight out of the LCD computer monitor market, ViewSonic would appear to have the necessary technological know-how to impress the average man on the street, and throwing an asking price of under £2,000 into the bundle is not a bad way to make new friends and influence people right from the start.

That said, the company is all too aware of the prejudice that many consumers rightly or wrongly have against manufacturers that mainly produce PC peripherals crossing over into an AV market. For this reason ViewSonic has made every effort to include as many features as is possible to influence buyers that it knows what it's doing.

Disappointingly, build-quality and design aesthetics don't appear to come under this remit. The result is a TV with a design that is bland, to the point of being ugly.

A simple grey rectangle with equally nondescript speakers lining either side, you're almost grateful that the on-light is a glaring blue. Not only that but the 30in 16:9 screen actually has a 29.5in viewing area. While ViewSonic will undoubtedly argue 'what's a few inches between friends?' most will feel that they've somehow been cheated by this rather silly and unnecessary oversight, even if it is only half an inch.

But before we get too wrapped up in feeling as though we've been conned, we should sit back and take stock and, in fairness, it quickly becomes clear that the N3000W's benefits far outweigh the failings.

Looking at the sockets on offer at the back of the screen, it's more like a telephone exchange than a bargain display. There's two RGB-enabled Scart sockets, two component video inputs (one PAL progressive scan-enabled) with composite stereo audio jacks to complement. Plus, DVI and VGA inputs with a stereo mini-jack for PC audio, an RS232 service port and two RF antenna ins.

Outputs are also supplied for R/L audio (through composite) and a subwoofer and VGA port for video. The remote control offers a different button for each display making it a chunky affair.

Put simply, there was very little that we wanted to connect to the ViewSonic that we couldn't, and the sheer choice of options on offer completely nullified any need for a separate switching box - even considering the size of our equipment stack.

Performance

As for picture quality, the screen has a lot in common with any Ronseal product in that 'it does exactly what it says on the box'. It's as capable as the quality of the feed you give it.

We found that using the built-in analogue TV tuner (of which there are two, presumably for the more retro picture in picture fans out there), there was a lot of noise. However, once cable, digital or satellite TV is fed through the RGB Scart, the picture improves significantly.

Even better still, and this is the N3000W's major selling point, is running images (DVD or games) through PAL progressive scan. The picture is extremely sharp, with a rich colour-field. A high contrast-ratio brings great clarity to minor imagery although sometimes the blacks can look a little grey (although we do find this to be a universal problem on LCDs, a lot of which are considerably more expensive).

As for computer-feeds through the VGA or DVI sockets, it's perfect. The screen is a fantastic complement to a media PC, for example.

The twin 10W stereo speakers positioned either side of the screen offer a decent virtual surround sound experience, although they don't quite cut it on the deeper bass levels; hence, we presume, the need for a subwoofer out connection. There's nothing noticeable in the way of distortion interfering with the audio though, even when ear-splitting volume levels are reached.

It's essentially an impressive set, especially for the money, and a great debut from ViewSonic. Let's just hope that the company can continue in the same vein after such a positive start.